Dover receives Certified Local Government status

May 21st, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

On May 15, 2015, the City of Dover, Del. received notification it had been accorded the status of a Certified Local Government by the National Park Service. Part of a nationwide effort, Delaware’s Certified Local Government Program is administered by Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ State Historic Preservation Office in partnership with the National Park Service. The program strengthens preservation efforts at the local-level by providing technical and financial assistance, while encouraging successful preservation programs and practices. Delaware now has six Certified Local Governments: Delaware City, Dover, Lewes, Milton, New Castle County and the City of Wilmington.

View of the Dover Green. The Old State House is on the right.

View of the Dover Green. The Old State House is on the right.

Founded by William Penn in 1683, Dover is one of the state’s most historic cities. In 1777, Delaware’s capital was moved there from New Castle because of the city’s central location and relative safety from British warships operating in the Delaware River. The Dover Green, now a component of the First State National Historical Park, functioned for nearly 200 years as the city’s commercial and governmental center. It served as the site where the Declaration of Independence was read to the townspeople in 1776, and where a Continental regiment was mustered for service in the American Revolution. The Green was also home to a number of taverns and inns including the Golden Fleece Tavern where representatives from Delaware’s three counties ratified the United States Constitution on December 7, 1787, becoming the first state to do so. The Green remains the historical heart of Dover and is the location of The Old State House, Delaware Supreme Court and the Kent County Courthouse.

For information about the Dover Green Historic District and the Victorian Dover Historic District, as well as individual Dover properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places, go to Delaware’s Cultural and Historical Resources Information System (CHRIS). Go to the following for Dover’s historic district guidelines.

 

 

Former president of Ghana visits John Dickinson Plantation

May 21st, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

John Kufuor, former president of the Republic of Ghana, visited the John Dickinson Plantation in Dover on Saturday, May 16, 2015 where he was treated to a guided tour by site supervisor Gloria Henry. Kufuor was in Dover to deliver Delaware State University’s commencement address on May 17.

(From left) Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs Deputy Director Suzanne Savery, President John Kufuor and site supervisor Gloria Henry behind the John Dickinson Plantation’s mansion house.

(From left) Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs Deputy Director Suzanne Savery, President John Kufuor and site supervisor Gloria Henry behind the John Dickinson Plantation’s mansion house.

President Kufuor (left) listens to Gloria Henry (right). At center is a museum figure depicting John Dickinson.

President Kufuor (left) listens to Gloria Henry (right). At center is a museum figure depicting John Dickinson.

Henry’s tour provided extensive information on the life of Dickinson, one of the founding fathers of the United States, signer of the Constitution and “Penman of the Revolution.” In a remarkable moment, Kufuor mentioned that he had studied law at Lincoln’s Inn in London which is located across the street from Middle Temple where Dickinson studied. Other highlights of the tour included an examination of books in Dickinson’s library, weaving on the plantation’s barn loom, and demonstrations of meat curing in the smokehouse and hearth cooking in the log’d dwelling. Kufuor was accompanied on the tour by his nephew Dr. Akwasi Osei, a member of the Delaware State University faculty and former chair of the Delaware State Review Board for Historic Preservation.

President Kufuor listens to historic-site interpreter Chris Merrill outside the plantation’s smokehouse.

President Kufuor listens to historic-site interpreter Chris Merrill outside the plantation’s smokehouse.

Exploring the plantation’s barn loom.

Exploring the plantation’s barn loom.

Go to the following to read a press account of President Kufuor’s address at Delaware State University

Former president of Ghana gives DSU commencement
News Journal, Wilmington, Del.—May 17, 2015

 


Division seeks supervisor for the Buena Vista Conference Center, and an architectural historian

May 21st, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs is currently seeking qualified applicants for the positions of museum historic site supervisor, and cultural preservation specialist (architectural historian). Applications for both positions are available by going to the links below or by going to the Delaware Employment Link.

The museum historic site supervisor will be responsible for operations and visitor services associated with the administration of the Buena Vista Conference Center.  As a historic property, Buena Vista is utilized as an active conference center serving state agencies, corporations and the public for meetings and private events. Application opening date: May 21, 2015. Closing date: May 27, 2015.

Buena Vista Conference Center

Buena Vista Conference Center

The cultural preservation specialist (architectural historian) will join the division’s State Historic Preservation Office and will be responsible for reviewing and/or conducting architectural surveys and associated project review tasks, coordinating with local governments and assisting with historic preservation incentive programs. Application opening date: May 21, 2015. Closing date: June 2, 2015.

U.S. military members invited to free lecture/tours of the hull of the DeBraak

May 15th, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

U.S. military personnel are invited to attend free lecture/tours of the hull of His Majesty’s Sloop DeBraak, a British warship that was escorting and protecting a convoy of British and American merchant ships en route to the United States when it was capsized and lost off the Delaware coast on May 25, 1798.

Interpreter pointing to the remaining section of the DeBraak's hull.

Interpreter pointing to the remaining section of the DeBraak’s hull.

Normally $10 per person, reservations for the lecture/tours, which will take place on Saturday, June 6, 2015 at 9 a.m. and Noon, are free for current and former members of the U.S. armed forces and their families (restricted to persons aged 10 and above) with a limit of 12 visitors per program. Military identification is required. Reservations are available only through the Shop Delaware website (go to http://shop.delaware.gov and click the “Tours” link). For additional information, call 302-645-1148.

All programs begin at the Zwaanendael Museum, located at 102 Kings Highway in Lewes, Del., where a lecture on the ship will be presented in conjunction with “A Seaborne Citizenry: The DeBraak and Its Atlantic World,” an exhibit that tells the story of the vessel, its crew and the historical context within which it operated in the late 18th century. Attendees of the lecture will then be transported, via van, to the DeBraak hull facility in nearby Cape Henlopen State Park for a tour of the surviving section of the ship’s hull.

Artistic rendition of the capsizing of the DeBraak by Peggy Kane, 1990.

Artistic rendition of the capsizing of the DeBraak by Peggy Kane, 1990.

This special offering is part of the Blue Star Museums program, a vehicle for outreach to members of the United States armed forces. A collaboration of the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense and more than 2,000 museums across America, the program offers free admission to all active duty military personnel and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

 

Division to sponsor 22 special events during June 2015

May 14th, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

During the month of June 2015, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be offering 22 special programs at sites across the state. Except where noted, programs are free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-744-5055.

Visitors enjoying a tour of the DeBraak hull. Lecture/tours of the 19th century British warship will be conducted beginning in June and continuing through September 2015.

Visitors enjoying a tour of the DeBraak hull. Lecture/tours of the 19th century British warship will be conducted beginning in June and continuing through September 2015.

Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs special events, June 2015

Mondays, June 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29, 2015
Lecture/tour of His Majesty’s Sloop DeBraak. Explore the history of the DeBraak which was capsized and lost off the Delaware coast on May 25, 1798. Program includes a trip to the hull facility in nearby Cape Henlopen State Park for a tour of the surviving section of the ship’s hull. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Programs at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Limited seating. Admission $10 by reservation only through the Shop Delaware website (go to http://shop.delaware.gov and click the “Tours” link). For additional information, call 302-645-1148.

Thursdays, June 4, 11, 18 and 25, 2015
“Thirsty on Thursdays.” Learn how to make cool 18th-century drinks including switchels, lemonade and tea. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturday, June 6, 2015
Free lecture/tour of His Majesty’s Sloop DeBraak for U.S. military members and their families. Explore the history of the DeBraak which was capsized and lost off the Delaware coast on May 25, 1798. Program includes a trip to the hull facility in nearby Cape Henlopen State Park for a tour of the surviving section of the ship’s hull. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Programs at 9 a.m. and Noon. Limited seating. Tours for current and former members of the U.S. military and their families only. Admission free by reservation only through the Shop Delaware website (go to http://shop.delaware.gov and click the “Tours” link). For additional information, call 302-645-1148.

Saturday, June 6, 2015
“Bring Your Partners: Learn the Art of Old English Country Dancing.” Inter-active program in which visitors will discover the style that was the precursor to square dancing. First Saturday in the First State program. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Programs at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, June 6, 2015
“The Golden Age of Jazz.” Here tunes from the hottest era in jazz music played on authentic Victor Talking Machines and join in on popular dances from that time. First Saturday in the First State program. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. Programs at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Friday and Saturday, June 12 and 13, 2015
Separation Day. Celebration marking the 238th anniversary of Delaware’s separation from Great Britain and Pennsylvania and the formation of the Delaware State. Programs include activities at the New Castle Court House Museum. Downtown New Castle. Friday, 5–10 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.–10 p.m. 302-323-4453 or 302-545-1650.

Saturday, June 13, 2015
Demonstrations by the Thistledown Fiber Arts Guild. Program explores spinning, weaving, knitting and other fabric arts. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 1–3 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Friday, June 19, 2015
The Doctor Is In.” Living-history theatrical performance by Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs historical interpreter Dennis Fisher exploring the life and times of Dr. James Sykes, an 18th to 19th-century Dover physician. Partnership between the division and the Dover Public Library. Dover Public Library, 35 Loockerman Plaza, Dover. 7 p.m. 302-736-7030.

Dennis Fisher will portray Dr. James Sykes in “The Doctor Is In” program on June 19, 2015.

Dennis Fisher will portray Dr. James Sykes in “The Doctor Is In” program on June 19, 2015.

Sunday, June 21, 2015
17th Annual Chautauqua Tent Show: “Discovering Delaware’s Maritime Past.” Programs begin at Noon and culminate at 7:15 p.m. when David Scott Taylor of the American Historical Theatre performs “Gideon Olmstead—Adventures of a Sea Captain During the Revolution.” Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. 302-645-1148.

Monday, June 22, 2015
17th Annual Chautauqua Tent Show: “Discovering Delaware’s Maritime Past.” Programs begin at Noon and culminate at 7:15 p.m. when Daisy Century of the American Historical Theatre performs “Phyllis Phillis Wheatley’s Voyage to Britain” which explores an episode in the life of the first published African-American poet. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. 302-645-1148. Note spelling correction.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015
17th Annual Chautauqua Tent Show: “Discovering Delaware’s Maritime Past.” Concert by the Skinny Leg Pete Band performing soul, funk, blues and rock ‘n’ roll. Stango Park, 111 Adams Ave., Lewes. 7 p.m. 302-645-1148.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Painting Party @ The Pole Shed.” Aided by an art instructor, guests at one of Delaware’s most historic estates will help to create the “Peaceful Path” painting while enjoying food and beverages provided by Caffé Gelato. Buena Vista Conference Center, 661 S. Dupont Highway (Route 13), New Castle. 6–8:30 p.m. Admission $39 in advance. For tickets, go to http://www.painting-parties.com/6-23—buena-vista-conference-center.html. For information, call 302-323-4430.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015
17th Annual Chautauqua Tent Show: “Discovering Delaware’s Maritime Past.” Programs begin at Noon and culminate at 7:15 p.m. when Christian Johnson of the American Historical Theatre portrays William Augustus Newell founder of U.S. Life-Saving Service. Lewes Historical Society complex, 110 Shipcarpenter St., Lewes. 302-645-7670.

Christian Johnson will portray Gov. William Augustus Newell, founder of U.S. Life-Saving Service, on June 24, 2015.

Christian Johnson will portray Gov. William Augustus Newell, founder of U.S. Life-Saving Service, on June 24, 2015.

Thursday, June 25, 2015
17th Annual Chautauqua Tent Show: “Discovering Delaware’s Maritime Past.” Programs begin at Noon and culminate at 7:15 p.m. when Kim Hanley of the American Historical Theatre portrays first lady Abigail Adams discussing trade and embargoes during the American Revolution. Lewes Historical Society complex, 110 Shipcarpenter St., Lewes. 302-645-7670.

Desiree Williams promoted to site manager of Buena Vista Conference Center

May 8th, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

Desiree Williams has recently been promoted to the position of site manager of the Buena Vista Conference Center located at 661 S. Dupont Highway in New Castle, Del. Called “the perfect wedding location” by Delaware Bride Magazine, Buena Vista features “lush grounds, cozy accommodations and luxe décor” that are utilized for a wide variety of functions including business gatherings and government meetings as well as receptions, parties and celebrations.

Desiree Williams

Desiree Williams

Williams has worked in the administration of Buena Vista since April 2014 having previously served as an administrator with the Delaware Department of State. Originally from New York City, she attended Delaware State University on a full scholarship, graduating in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and public relations.

“It’s been one of my career objectives to work in the field of event planning, and managing a beautiful site like this [Buena Vista] is a dream come true for me,” noted Williams. As site manager, her responsibilities include maintaining the historical integrity of the mansion, conducting tours for potential brides and clients, assisting with planning and logistical details for events and weddings, maintaining the property’s social media sites, creating marketing and promotional strategies to increase visitation, and managing staff members who serve the more than 10,000 guests that attend events at the conference center each year.

Commenting on Williams’ service, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs Director Tim Slavin noted, “Desiree is a wonderful addition to our team. She is customer-focused and has made Buena Vista one of the finest sites in Delaware for meetings and special events. We look forward to great things with Desiree as our site manager.”

Mansion house at Buena Vista.

Mansion house at Buena Vista.

Buena Vista is one of Delaware’s most historic homes. The main section of the house was built between 1845 and 1847 by John M. Clayton, United States secretary of state from 1849 to 1850 under presidents Taylor and Fillmore, and United States senator from 1829 to 1836, 1845 to 1849 and 1853 until his death in 1856. The home later became the residence of C. Douglass Buck, governor of Delaware from 1929 to 1937 and United States senator from 1942 to 1948. Buena Vista and its grounds were donated to the state by the Buck family in 1965 and now serve as a conference center administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs.

 

State of Delaware’s museums again say thanks to America’s military personnel

May 7th, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

For the fourth year, the six museums of the state of Delaware have joined the ranks of Blue Star Museums as a vehicle for outreach to members of the United States armed forces.

Blue Star Museums poster

The program is a collaborative effort of the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense and more than 2,000 museums across America. It offers free admission to active duty military personnel including members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines, National Guard and Reserve, with up to five family members, from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Museums in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and American Samoa are participating in the program including children’s museums, fine art museums, history and science museums and nature centers.

Administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the state of Delaware’s six museums tell the story of the First State’s contributions to the history and culture of the United States. Although admission to the state’s museums is already free, participation in the Blue Star Museums program allows the division to expand its outreach efforts to military personnel and thank them for their service to the nation.

 

The value of volunteering in historic preservation

April 29th, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

Listed below are three articles that demonstrate the important role that volunteers play in historic preservation efforts across the nation:

Celebrating the Value of Main Street Volunteers
National Main Street Center, Washington, D.C.

Students Working in Local Historic Preservation
Teachinghistory.org, George Mason University, Fairfax, Va.

The Value of Volunteers
Texas Historical Commission, Austin, Texas

Go to the following to learn more about historic preservation and other volunteer opportunities with the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs and with Preservation Delaware. Division volunteer projects have included research and analysis of archaeological artifacts, archaeological fieldwork, preparation of National Register nominations, archival research and preparation of various materials for educational programs.

Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs volunteer Kent Slavin assisting with the analysis of artifacts from the Roosevelt Inlet Shipwreck.

Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs volunteer Kent Slavin assisting with the analysis of artifacts from the Roosevelt Inlet Shipwreck.

 

 

Archaeological symposium at the New Castle Court House Museum on May 9, 2015

April 29th, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

On Saturday, May 9, 2015, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the Archaeological Society of Delaware, will present “The Early Colonial Delaware Valley—An Archaeological Symposium.” Now in its eighth year, the symposium is dedicated to building a regional-level dialog that can identify the uniqueness of the cultures that existed in the Delaware Valley during the early period of European colonization.

New Castle Court House Museum

New Castle Court House Museum

The symposium will take place at the New Castle Court House Museum located at 211 Delaware St. in New Castle, Del. Admission is free and open to the public. For additional information, contact Craig Lukezic at craig.lukezic@state.de.us or call 302-736-7407.

Go to the following for a complete symposium schedule.

Employees and volunteers recognized at division all-staff meeting

April 29th, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

On March 30, 2015, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs employees and volunteers gathered for an all-staff meeting to review recent successes and examine future plans. Held at the Buena Vista Conference Center near New Castle, the meeting featured an in-depth session that focused on disaster-preparedness and planning sessions for each of the division’s teams.

As part of the day’s activities, Delaware Secretary of State Jeffrey W. Bullock recognized division director Tim Slavin for 20 years of service to state government. Bullock and Slavin then presented awards to division employees and volunteers who had made an outstanding impact on the division and the people that it serves. Extra Mile awards were presented to Buena Vista staff member Ryan Cardwell and volunteer Carolyn Apple, while Biggest Impact awards were presented to Michael Cinque of the Collections, Affiliates, Research and Exhibits (CARE) Team, and Alan Roth of the Zwaanendael Museum staff. Slavin also recognized four new employees that had joined the division since January 2015—Greg Buchman, Chris Conley, Amanda Goebel and Gene Modzelewski.

Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs Director Tim Slavin (far right) addressing the all-staff meeting on March 30, 2015. Photo by Howard Fulcher.

Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs Director Tim Slavin (far right) addressing the all-staff meeting on March 30, 2015. Photo by Howard Fulcher.