Ted Becker is a long way from Mt. Vernon, Ohio, where he was raised. But the Ohio State University graduate feels right at home. “I grew up in a small community like this one, and I like the closeness that affords you and the familiarity,” he says.
Over the past 20 years, he’s become part of the social fabric that weaves through Mayberry-esque Lewes. Not only is he the co-owner of the Inn at Canal Square, but he’s also the city’s deputy mayor.
Becker began spending some weekends at the beach in 1978. Those getaways became more frequent after he purchased a second home in 1981. At the time, Becker and some partners were investing in land in the area. He and his partner bought the inn in 1989.
“We had a vision of bringing the inn up to date,” he says. “Someone needed to be here full time.” Becker had been traveling a lot as the national sales manager for a Washington, D.C., decorative textile company, and after 9/11, he was ready to settle down. He moved to Lewes full time in 2001.
Over the years, he’s witnessed the downtown area’s revitalization. “Lewes has really gone through a metamorphosis,” he says. “But for the most part, store owners are sole proprietors. There are no big box stores here.” Beebe Medical Center and the University of Delaware’s Lewes campus have helped fuel the development and made Lewes a year-round community.
Challenges? Transportation, he says without hesitation—and not just in Sussex County. As an innkeeper, he talks to guests who travel hours to visit. Highway traffic in New York, Washington, D.C., and northern Delaware can be a deterrent.
Becker, whose home and inn are on the canal, is also concerned about climate change. When Sandy threatened the area, he heeded the warnings and removed everything he could on the inn’s first floors. If the tide had risen just a few more inches, he would have had water in the building.
Without a boardwalk and arcade, Lewes draws a different crowd than its neighbors to the south. Visitors here are more interested in historic sites than saltwater taffy. “There are a lot of younger retirees with a lot of intellectual capital that benefits Lewes,” he says. “People are engaged. The sense of community remains strong here.”