Old State House holds public program for Summers family reunion

August 28th, 2014 by Jim Yurasek

On Aug. 17, 2014, The Old State House in Dover, Del. held a public program in conjunction with a reunion of the Summers family. Thirty-eight family members, from across the United States, attended the program which featured tours of the museum and a special presentation that recounted the story of three Summers family ancestors.

Members of the Summers family at The Old State House on Aug. 17, 2014.

Members of the Summers family at The Old State House on Aug. 17, 2014.

Confirmed by historical documents, the presentation explored the manumission (granting of freedom) of two slave children—Ruth and Thomas Summers—which took place in 1797 in the Kent County Recorder of Deeds office, located in what is now called The Old State House. The children were manumitted by their own father, James Summers, a free African American, who had obtained them from their former owner. Following the presentation, historic-site interpreter Tom Pulmano, dressed in period clothing, gave a living-history performance in which he portrayed Vincent Summers, youngest son of James Summers, who discussed the ordeals faced by his family.

Historic-site interpreter Tom Pulmano portraying Vincent Summers.

Historic-site interpreter Tom Pulmano portraying Vincent Summers.

Every August, Summers family descendants gather in Delaware to renew ties and celebrate their family’s rich and continually unfolding history. Since the 1990s, The Old State House has presented public programs on the Summers’ manumission story which have been attended by family members as well as members of the general public. During the Aug. 17 program, Virginia Harris, a Summers descendant from Kent County, Del. noted that her relatives “look forward to this [The Old State House] event every year.”

A small Old State House display, presented in the very room where the event occurred, features the following text from the manumission document:

To all to whom these presents Shall come I James Summers of Murderkill Hundred in the County of Kent and State of Delaware free negro, send Greeting Know Ye that I the said James Summers for divers Considerations me especially moving do manumit Liberate and set at full Liberty: and by these presents doth manumit liberate and set at full Liberty my affectionate Children namely Thomas Summers who is now aged about five years, and Ruth Summers aged Seven years on or about the twenty fifth day of December next ensuing the date hereof: And I the said James Summers doth covenant promise grant and agree to and with the said Thomas Summers, and Ruth Summers that they the said Thomas Summers and Ruth Summers liberated as aforsd. Shall from and immediately after the date of these presents enjoy their Freedom as Other Free Citizens Can or ought to do, and that they or either of them shall not at any time hereafter be molested or bared by the said James Summers his Executors administrators or any other person. And I the said James Summers the said Thomas & Ruth hereby manumitted liberated and set at Liberty against himself the said James Summers, and his Heirs Executors and administrators, and against all other persons whatsoever claiming the said Thomas & Ruth or either of them shall and will warrant and defend by these presents. In Witness whereof I the said James Summers have set my Hand & Seal this fourteenth day of October Anno domini 1797.

                                                                                                 his
sealed & delivd in presence of                                   James + Summers
us   S. W. Wilson   John Lowber                                             mark

Photo of Thomas and Ruth Summers’ manumission document from the Delaware Public Archives.

Photo of Thomas and Ruth Summers’ manumission document from the Delaware Public Archives.

Allen McLane symposium to take place in Dover on Oct. 25, 2014

August 27th, 2014 by Jim Yurasek

On Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wesley College in Dover, Del. will host a symposium on the life and military career of Allen McLane, the noted American patriot from Duck Creek (Smyrna), Del.

Allen McLane

Allen McLane

Speakers will include John A. Nagy, author of “Spies in the Continental Capital: Espionage Across Pennsylvania During the American Revolution”; Glenn F. Williams, a historian at the US Army Center of Military History and author of “Year of the Hangman: George Washington’s Campaign Against the Iroquois”; retired Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs curator of archaeology Chuck Fithian; Michael Lloyd, long-term McLane researcher; Edith McLane Edson, McLane descendant and writer; and historian Robert Selig. Living-history performances will be provided by the First Delaware Regiment and by Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs historical interpreter Tom Welch who will portray McLane.

The symposium will take place in Wesley College’s Peninsula Room, located in the du Pont College Center at 120 N. State St. in Dover, Del. Admission is free and open to the public but pre-registration is strongly encouraged. The first 50 persons to register will receive a pack of six Allen McLane post cards that were produced in 1976 by the Delaware American Revolution Bicentennial Commission. In addition, all participants will receive a copy of the first book ever written solely about McLane which is scheduled to be published by the Delaware Heritage Commission.

Primary sponsorship of the Allen McLane symposium is provided by the Northern Delaware American Revolution Round Table, the Sons of the American Revolution and Wesley College. Additional sponsorship is provided by the Claymont Historical Society, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the Delaware Historical Society, the First Delaware Regiment, the Friends of Belmont Hall and the Society of the Cincinnati. Financial support is provided by gifts from Ginger Trader, Troy Foxwell, the James Family and Thomas Welch.

To register for the symposium, or for additional information, contact Tom Welch at tompj8129@gmail.com or call 302-736-6345.

About Allen McLane …

Allen McLane (1746-1829) of Duck Creek Hundred served in the House of Assembly from Kent County in 1785 and 1789. He participated in numerous battles during the American Revolutionary War and worked closely with Gen. George Washington at Valley Forge. He was a member of the Delaware Convention that ratified the U.S. Constitution. Later in life, he moved from Kent County to Wilmington, serving as collector of the customs for many years. He belonged to the Society of the Cincinnati, the Masonic order and was a member of the Methodist Church. His will began with the sentence, “I, Allen McLane, of the Borough of Wilmington, in the State of Delaware, Collector of the Customs of the United States for the Delaware District, and a friend and soldier of the American Revolution … .” His son, Louis McLane, became a U.S. representative, senator, secretary of state, secretary of the treasury and minister to England.


Call for abstracts: “Learning From the Reservation: Using the Traditional Cultural Place Perspective for Better Decision Making in a Diverse Cultural Landscape”

August 27th, 2014 by Jim Yurasek

-Deadline for submission of abstracts: Oct. 15, 2014-

National Council for Preservation Education logo

From April 23 to 25, 2015, the National Council for Preservation Education will be hosting “Learning from the Reservation: Using the Traditional Cultural Place Perspective for Better Decision Making in a Diverse Cultural Landscape,” a conference that will highlight and share the innovative work that applies the Traditional Cultural Place perspective beyond its application to Native American historic resources to identify, document and mitigate impacts to properties important to other cultural groups. The conference will take place at Delaware State University, 1200 N. DuPont Highway, in Dover, Del.

The conference will be organized around a single track of papers focused on three aspects of working with non-traditional Traditional Cultural Places: identification, documentation and mitigation. Papers can address all three topics but must focus primarily on one aspect. A stipend to cover travel expenses will be offered to all successful paper authors to facilitate participation in this event.

Paper proposals should be no more than 400 words in length, and should be accompanied by a one-page curriculum vitae. Submit paper proposals by Oct. 15, 2014, via email to Rebecca Sheppard, rjshep@udel.edu and Jeremy Wells, jwells@rwu.edu. Authors will be notified by Nov. 30, 2014 regarding acceptance of papers. Full drafts of selected papers will be due by Feb. 1, 2015.

For additional information about the conference, go to the National Council for Preservation Education website, or contact Robin Krawitz via email at rkrawitz@desu.edu or 302-857-7139.

An Illegal Activity: The Underground Railroad in Delaware”–Exhibit extended through Dec. 7, 2014

August 26th, 2014 by Jim Yurasek

The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs has announced that the closing date for “An Illegal Activity: The Underground Railroad in Delaware” has been extended to Dec. 7, 2014. The exhibit, on display at the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, located at 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Dover, Del., has been open since Oct. 16, 2013 and was scheduled to close on July 31, 2014. Operating hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free. For additional information, call 302-744-5055.

Underground Railroad conductor Samuel D. Burris.

Underground Railroad conductor Samuel D. Burris.

Planned and created by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs in partnership with the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway Management Organization and the Underground Railroad Coalition of Delaware, the exhibit explores the First State’s role in the pre-Civil War network of secret routes and safe houses used by black slaves in the United States to escape to free states and Canada with the aid of abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic to their cause. Focusing on two Delawareans who played important roles in this illegal and clandestine enterprise—Samuel D. Burris and Thomas Garrett—the exhibit explores the actions of a number of brave people who made principled decisions to follow their consciences rather than what they viewed as the unjust laws of the state and nation.

About Samuel D. Burris …
Born on Oct. 16, 1813 in the Willow Grove area near Dover, Del., Samuel D. Burris was the educated son of George Burris, a free-black man. As a conductor on the Underground Railroad, Samuel D. Burris is known to have successfully led several enslaved people from Maryland and Delaware to freedom. After an 1847 attempt to bring a young woman, Maria Matthews, out of Kent County, Del. to Pennsylvania, Burris was found guilty of aiding in the escape of a slave and was fined, sentenced to prison and thereafter sentenced to be sold into slavery. After being “purchased” for $500 by Wilmington abolitionist, Isaac S. Flint, he was taken to Philadelphia where he was reunited with his wife, children and friends. He continued to work for the abolitionist cause until his death in San Francisco in 1863.

About Thomas Garrett …
Thomas Garrett was born on Aug. 21, 1789 to a prominent Quaker family in Upper Darby, Pa. After moving to Wilmington, Del. where he was an iron merchant, Garrett operated as the stationmaster on the last stop of the Underground Railroad in Delaware, collaborating with a number of noted conductors including Harriet Tubman and Samuel D. Burris. He is credited with helping over 2,500 fugitive slaves escape to freedom. In 1848, Garrett was tried in Federal District Court meeting at the New Castle Court House under the jurisdiction of United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney. After being convicted of trespass and debt for aiding and abetting in the escape of runaway-slaves, Garrett was fined several thousand dollars resulting in his financial ruin. Nonetheless, he continued to work for the abolitionist cause. He died in Wilmington in 1871.

Thomas Garrett

Thomas Garrett

 

Division’s autumn 2014 programming provides a wide variety of ways to learn about Delaware history

August 19th, 2014 by Jim Yurasek

New programs added; changes made to previously announced events

The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be sponsoring 60 special events between September and December 2014 at the state of Delaware’s six museums (The New Castle Court House Museum, the John Dickinson Plantation, the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, The Old State House, the Johnson Victrola Museum and the Zwaanendael Museum). Except for the September lecture/tours of His Majesty’s Sloop DeBraak, admission for all programs is free and open to the public. A complete listing of events is included below.

Cast of “The Trial of William Penn.” The historical-theatre production will be presented at the New Castle Court House Museum on Oct. 25, 2014.

Cast of “The Trial of William Penn.” The historical-theatre production will be presented at the New Castle Court House Museum on Oct. 25, 2014.

This programming is part of the division’s ongoing efforts to increase public activities at the state’s museums through simple, low-cost programs designed to not only attract new visitors, but to also offer inducements for people to make return visits to the facilities. Events include partnerships with community organizations, holiday activities, themed tours, expanded children’s programming and many others.

Administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the museums of the state of Delaware tell the story of Delaware’s contributions to the history and culture of the United States. Through displays, exhibits and special programs, the museums explore how the state’s distinctive physical environment, in combination with the people who came to live there, gave Delaware an identity that is different from any other place.

Special events, September thru December 2014

Monday, Sept. 1, 2014
“An Illegal Activity.” Utilizing the exhibit “An Illegal Activity: The Underground Railroad in Delaware” as a backdrop, guided tours will explore Delaware’s crucial role in the Underground Railroad and on two Delaware leaders who aided in this “freedom enterprise.” First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, Delaware Public Archives building, 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Dover. Tours at 10 a.m., Noon and 2 p.m. Museum open 8 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055. Note change in museum hours.

Monday, Sept. 1, 2014
“The Star Spangled Banner: Then and Now.” Programs examine the development of America’s national anthem through time with original recordings played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. Programs at 11 a.m. and 2 3 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055. Note time change.

Monday, Sept. 1, 2014
“The Test of Time: The Relationship Between the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware and the Swedish Royal Family.” Elected Chief Dennis Coker discusses the rekindling of that relationship after 300 years and the advancements made by both communities. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 1 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Elected Chief Dennis Coker of the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware (right) talks with King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden during the May 2013 ceremonies commemorating the 375th anniversary of the founding of New Sweden. Chief Coker will be speaking at the program, “The Test of Time: The Relationship Between the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware and the Swedish Royal Family,” at The Old State House on Sept. 1, 2014.

Elected Chief Dennis Coker of the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware (right) talks with King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden during the May 2013 ceremonies commemorating the 375th anniversary of the founding of New Sweden. Chief Coker will be speaking at the program, “The Test of Time: The Relationship Between the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware and the Swedish Royal Family,” at The Old State House on Sept. 1, 2014.

Thursdays, Sept. 4, 11, 18 and 25, 2014
“Taper Thursdays.” Learn to make your own candle and help the plantation dip 200 candles that John Dickinson would have required from his tenants as part of their leases. 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, Sept. 6, 2014
“Drums, Drums, Drums.” Guided tours explore Victor Talking Machine Company founder E.R. Johnson’s role in making music a fundamental subject in public education and in helping children to become familiar with the most popular musical instruments. In this program, visitors will learn about the significance of drums as both a means of communication and as entertainment, featuring original recordings played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. First Saturday in the First State program. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Displays at the Johnson Victrola Museum.

Displays at the Johnson Victrola Museum.

Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014
“An Illegal Activity.” Utilizing the exhibit “An Illegal Activity: The Underground Railroad in Delaware” as a backdrop, guided tours will explore Delaware’s crucial role in the Underground Railroad and on two Delaware leaders who aided in this “freedom enterprise.” First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, Delaware Public Archives building, 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Dover. Tours at 10 a.m., Noon and 2 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014
“Delaware’s Native People and Archaeological Study.” Program examines Native-American artifacts from the collections of the state of Delaware and how those artifacts interpret the rich culture of the first residents of the First State. First Saturday in the First State program. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 1 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Mondays, Sept. 8, 15, 22 and 29, 2014
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 in advance by reservation through the Shop Delaware website. For additional information, call 302-645-1148.

Visitors enjoying a tour of the DeBraak hull.

Visitors enjoying a tour of the DeBraak hull.

Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014
“The First People of the First State: A Lenape Celebration of Heritage.” Third annual celebration featuring the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware as they honor mother earth and Native-American culture with dancing and demonstrations. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Celebration Noon 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055. Note time change.

Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014
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.

Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014
“The Star Spangled Banner: Then and Now.” Program examines the development of America’s national anthem through time with original recordings played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. Program 2 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055. Recently added program.

Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014
“Hearth Cooking Basics.” Hands-on workshop. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 11 a.m.–1 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Students learning about hearth cooking at the John Dickinson Plantation.

Students learning about hearth cooking at the John Dickinson Plantation.

Saturdays, Sept. 20 and 27, 2014
“First People of the First State.” Two-part lecture, based on the research of Delaware archaeologist Cara Blume, explores Delaware’s Native-American communities of the past and present. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 1 p.m. on both days. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055. Programs cancelled.

Saturday Sept. 20, 2014
“Lost and Found: Native American Identity in Delaware’s Public Schools.” Panel discussion examines the challenges that Delaware’s Native-American students faced during segregation and the subsequent integration of the public schools. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 1 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.
Recently added program.

Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014
Arts in the Estuary.” Celebrate National Estuaries Day from the artistic viewpoint including the work of artisans, performers and authors. Partnership with the St. Jones Reserve. 10 a.m.–2 p.m. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road and St. Jones Reserve, 818 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. 302-739-3277.

Saturday Sept. 27, 2014
“Smoked, Pickled and Salted for Survival.” Learn how smoked, pickled and salted meats helped stretch food reserves in the winter, and participate in pickling meats with brine and smoking meats in the plantation’s smokehouse. 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 Sept. 27, 2014
“Surviving Invasion: Learning About the First Peoples of the First State.” Based on the research of Dr. Cara Blume, this lecture will explore Delaware’s Native-American communities of the past and present. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 1 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.
Recently added program.

Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014
Native-American-themed program. Speaker TBD. “Capt. John Smith and his Encounter with the Nanticoke Indians.” Lecture by archaeologist Dan Griffith explores the natural environment of the Nanticoke River watershed in the early 17th century with a focus on the indigenous Nanticoke Indians and their encounter with Capt. John Smith. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Program at 2 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-645-1148. Note additional program description.

Saturday, Oct. 4 2014
“The Declaration of Independence.” Guided tours focus on the document in which the newly born United States declared its independence from Great Britain, and the Delaware signers who made this one of the most important documents in American history. First Saturday in the First State program. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014
“An Illegal Activity.” Utilizing the exhibit “An Illegal Activity: The Underground Railroad in Delaware” as a backdrop, guided tours will explore Delaware’s crucial role in the Underground Railroad and on two Delaware leaders who aided in this “freedom enterprise.” First Saturday in the First State program. First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, Delaware Public Archives building, 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Dover. Tours at 10 a.m., Noon and 2 3:30 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055. Note change in program time.

First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries

First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries

Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014
River Towns Ride and Festival. Festivals in historic New Castle and Delaware City frame a bicycling event between the two cities. Family-oriented festival held from Noon–5 p.m. at the New Castle Court House Museum and The Green in New Castle will feature music, rides, attractions, games, tours, vendors, craft beers, food and drink. 302-323-4453.

Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014
“His Majesty’s Sloop of War DeBraak.” Held in conjunction with Lewes’ annual Boast the Coast festival, the event will feature a day-long slate of maritime-history and -archaeology activities including block-and-tackle demonstrations and a 2 p.m. presentation on the DeBraak shipwreck. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Museum open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-645-1148.

Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014
“Pioneers in the Music Industry: Emile Berliner.” Guided tours explore the first pioneers in the music industry including the inventors of talking machines as well as early recording artists. Oliver Berliner, grandson of inventor Emile Berliner, will discuss his grandfather’s life, his inventions (including the gramophone) and his major contributions to society. First Saturday in the First State program. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. Program at 2:30 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055. Note change in program description and time.

Emile Berliner, inventor of the disk-record gramophone. Oliver Berliner will speak about his grandfather at the Johnson Victrola Museum on Oct. 4, 2014.

Emile Berliner, inventor of the disk-record gramophone. Oliver Berliner will speak about his grandfather at the Johnson Victrola Museum on Oct. 4, 2014.

Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014
“A Day in the Life of the John Dickinson Plantation.” Visitors of all ages will enjoy a day of music, food, entertainment and hands-on activities from Colonial trades to hearth cooking in the 18th-century setting of the home of the “Penman of the Revolution.” Featured performers will be the Swordmasters demonstrating Colonial muskets and rifles, and giving fencing demonstrations. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277. Note program addition.

Friday, Oct. 24, 2014
“Lantern Tours of the Plantation.” Programs explore the parties, games, dances and entertainment that would have abounded at the plantation during the nighttime in the 18th century. Activities will also include wagon-ride guided-tours conducted by staff of the St. Jones Reserve exploring the nocturnal life of the estuary. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Programs 6–7 p.m. and 7:30–8:30 p.m. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations are required by calling 302-739-3277.

Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014
William Penn Day. Series of programs commemorating the 332nd anniversary of Penn’s disembarkment at New Castle, his first landing in the New World. Activities at the New Castle Court House and The Green include a re-enactment of the Livery of Seizen ritual in which Penn received possession of New Castle and a 12-mile circle of land surrounding it; “Tea With Mrs. Penn”; a performance by De Blokfluiters recorder/flute ensemble; and “The Trial of William Penn,” a historical play exploring Penn’s trial on religious freedom and the rights of English subjects under the law. and an evening concert by the University of Delaware Baroque Chamber Ensemble. New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle. 10 a.m.–6:30 p.m. 302-323-4453. Note cancellation of one program segment.

New Castle Court House

New Castle Court House

Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014
“An 18th-Century Sweet Tooth.” Hands-on workshop in which visitors can learn how to create 18th-century sweets and goodies. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014
“Mysteries of History.” Walking tour explores the unusual tombstones of St. Peter’s cemetery in Lewes. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Tour leaves from the museum at 2 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-645-1148.

Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014
“Man’s Best Friend.” Guided tours explore one of the most celebrated canines in the world—Nipper, the dog who adorns the Victor trademark, “His Masters Voice.” Programs will also include original Victor recordings played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. First Saturday in the First State program. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014
“An Illegal Activity.” Utilizing the exhibit “An Illegal Activity: The Underground Railroad in Delaware” as a backdrop, guided tours will explore Delaware’s crucial role in the Underground Railroad and on two Delaware leaders who aided in this “freedom enterprise.” First Saturday in the First State program. First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, Delaware Public Archives building, 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Dover. Tours at 10 a.m., Noon and 2 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014
“18th Century Market Fair.” Programs explore an era when The Green served as the focal point of life in Dover as historical interpreters explore the goods, wares and political attitudes of the 1700s. The Old State House will celebrate the fair with special tours and appearances by historical re-enactors. Sponsored by the First State Heritage Park. The Green, Dover. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. 302-739-9194.

Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014
“Swing.” Guided tours explore Victor Records’ original recordings of “swing music,” played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Tuesdays, Nov. 4 and 11, 2014
“The People’s House.” In recognition of Election Day, guided tours will explore the significance of The Old State House and the many state and county governmental functions that were conducted there between 1791 and 1933. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Senate chamber in The Old State House. Photo by Don Pearse Photographers.

Senate chamber in The Old State House. Photo by Don Pearse Photographers.

Tuesdays, Nov. 4 and 11, 2014
“An Illegal Activity.” Utilizing the exhibit “An Illegal Activity: The Underground Railroad in Delaware” as a backdrop, guided tours will explore Delaware’s crucial role in the Underground Railroad and on two Delaware leaders who aided in this “freedom enterprise.” First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, Delaware Public Archives building, 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Dover. Tours at 10 a.m., Noon and 2 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Thursdays, Nov. 6, 13 and 20, 2014
John Dickinson’s Birthday Month. Visitors celebrate the birth of John Dickinson by helping to make a great cake and decorate it using royal icing and shaped marzipan. 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, Nov. 8, 2014
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.

Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014
“Delaware’s Decades—the 1970s: ‘Coastal Zone Act of 1971.’ ” Program description TBA. Lecture by Kevin Coyle, principal planner for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, on the landmark state-legislation that limited industrial development in Delaware’s coastal areas. Part five of an eight-part series exploring decades in Delaware’s history. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Program at 2 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations are required by calling 302-645-1148 no later than Nov. 6, 2014. Note additional program info.

Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014
“The Victors of World War I: The Power of Music.” In celebration of Veterans Day, this lively program examines music’s influence during World War I when patriotic songs were being composed throughout America. Hear 78 rpm recordings of this inspirational music played on authentic Victor Talking Machines, and explore how the Victor Talking Machine Company’s Camden, N.J. factory led the fight to make the world safe for democracy. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014
Candle-making workshops. Bayberry-candle workshop from 10 a.m.–noon examines bayberries and their use in creating bayberry candles. Presented in partnership with the St. Jones Reserve. Reservations required by calling the St. Jones Reserve at 302-739-3436. “Light Me Up!” workshop on candle dipping and discussion of lighting devices of the 18th century from 1–3 p.m. Reservations required by calling 302-739-3277 no later than Nov. 14. Museum also open for visitation 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover.

Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014
Dutch-American Heritage Day. Learn about the contributions that the Dutch have made to the economic, social, political and cultural life of Delaware and the United States. Program will include a lecture by Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs archaeologist Craig Lukezic. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Lecture at 2 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-645-1148.

Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014
“Handmade for the Holidays.” Seasonal program in which visitors can learn to create and decorate cards through the art of paper quilling and stenciling, and write a personal note with a quill pen. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 11–2:30 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014
“Hospitality Night.” Holiday-themed program featuring festive décor, music, demonstrations and seasonal refreshments. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. 6–9 p.m. 302-645-1148.

Zwaanendael Museum

Zwaanendael Museum

Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014
A Taste of Jazz: From the Beginning.” Guided tours explore the sounds of the Jazz Age and the role played by Delaware’s native son, E.R. Johnson in jazz-music history, accompanied by early-jazz recordings played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. First Saturday in the First State program. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014
“Handmade for the Holidays.” Seasonal program in which visitors can create a sachet with herbs and spices. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program at 2:30 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014
“Tour Zwaanendael Museum.” Enjoy the museum’s festive holiday-décor. Event held in conjunction with the Lewes Historical Society’s Christmas Tour of Lewes. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. 302-645-1148.

Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014
“Simple Pleasures: Picnic, Play and Dance.” Utilizing authentic clothing and objects from the collections of the state of Delaware, Ann Baker Horsey, Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ curator of collections, will discuss Edwardian and Roaring ´20s fall and winter recreational activities and their associated fashions that reflected the spirit of the liberated “modern” woman. First Saturday in the First State program. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 1 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014
“An Illegal Activity.” Utilizing the exhibit “An Illegal Activity: The Underground Railroad in Delaware” as a backdrop, guided tours will explore Delaware’s crucial role in the Underground Railroad and on two Delaware leaders who aided in this “freedom enterprise.” First Saturday in the First State program. First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, Delaware Public Archives building, 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Dover. Tours at Noon and 2 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014
Delaware Day awards ceremony. Event honors participants in the Delaware Department of State’s 13th annual Delaware Day Fourth Grade Competition which challenges students to create displays that help illustrate and explain the U.S. Constitution and the role played by Delawareans in the writing and ratification of the nation’s founding document. First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Dover. Time TBA. 302­–739–4111. Recently added program.

Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014
Spirit of Christmas in New Castle. One of the best preserved Colonial-era towns in America will feature tours of historic homes bedecked in holiday decorations, activities at museums including the New Castle Court House Museum, crafts, musical entertainment and more. Festivities will conclude at 5 p.m. with the annual Christmas tree lighting at Market Square. Downtown New Castle. 9:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. 302-328-3279.

Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014
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.

Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014
“Handmade for the Holidays.” Seasonal program in which visitors can create a plaster ornament. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 11–2:30 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Mansion house at the John Dickinson Plantation.

Mansion house at the John Dickinson Plantation.

 

Historic preservation tax credit workshop in Lewes on Sept. 26, 2014

August 13th, 2014 by Jim Yurasek

The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be conducting a presentation on tax credits that are available to property owners to help offset costs associated with the rehabilitation and preservation of historic buildings in the First State. Sponsored by the Lewes Historic Preservation Commission, the presentation will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 26, 2014 at the Lewes City Hall, 114 E. Third St., in Lewes, Del. The event is free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-645-7777.

Street scene in the Lewes Historic District.

Street scene in the Lewes Historic District.

The presentation will be conducted by Joan N. Larrivee, an architectural historian, Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs staff member and coordinator of Delaware’s Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program. Larrivee has been advising property owners of the tax benefits of preserving historic properties since the inception of the federal preservation-tax-incentive program in 1976, and currently advises applicants seeking credits under both the state and federal programs.For additional information on the programs, contact Larrivee at 302-736-7400 or joan.larrivee@state.de.us.

Programs on Native-American heritage among 23 events at division museums in September 2014

August 11th, 2014 by Jim Yurasek

New programs added; changes made to previously announced events

 The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be sponsoring 23 special events during the month of September 2014 at the six museums of the state of Delaware. Six of the events—on Sept. 1, 6, 13, 20 and 27—will explore the First State’s rich Native-American heritage and culture including programs on the Lenape and Nanticoke Indian tribes. A schedule of all of the division’s September special programs is listed below. Except for the lecture/tours of His Majesty’s Sloop DeBraak, admission for all programs is free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-744-5055.

Elected Chief Dennis Coker of the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware (right) talks with King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden during the May 2013 ceremonies commemorating the 375th anniversary of the founding of New Sweden. Chief Coker will be speaking at the program, “The Test of Time: The Relationship Between the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware and the Swedish Royal Family,” at The Old State House on Sept. 1, 2014.

Elected Chief Dennis Coker of the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware (right) talks with King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden during the May 2013 ceremonies commemorating the 375th anniversary of the founding of New Sweden. Chief Coker will be speaking at the program, “The Test of Time: The Relationship Between the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware and the Swedish Royal Family,” at The Old State House on Sept. 1, 2014.

According to Nena Todd, site supervisor for the state’s downtown Dover museums, September is a time for Native-American people to return to their homelands. Traditionally, the coming of cooler weather provided a signal for native peoples to transition from their summer hunting and fishing grounds to more secure winter lodging. This tradition of seasonal travel continues in today’s Native-American communities with September serving as a time when families come together and communities celebrate their heritage. One of Delaware’s most well-known Native-American celebrations is the annual Nanticoke Indian Pow-Wow that will take place this year on Sept. 6 and 7.

 Special events at the museums of the state of Delaware, September 2014:

Monday, Sept. 1, 2014 “An Illegal Activity.” Utilizing the exhibit “An Illegal Activity: The Underground Railroad in Delaware” as a backdrop, guided tours will explore Delaware’s crucial role in the Underground Railroad and on two Delaware leaders who aided in this “freedom enterprise.” First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, Delaware Public Archives building, 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Dover. Tours at 10 a.m., Noon and 2 p.m. Museum open 8 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055. Note change in museum hours.

Monday, Sept. 1, 2014 “The Star Spangled Banner: Then and Now.” Programs examine the development of America’s national anthem through time with original recordings played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. Programs at 11 a.m. and 2 3 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055. Note time change.

Display of Victor Talking Machines at the Johnson Victrola Museum.

Display of Victor Talking Machines at the Johnson Victrola Museum.

Monday, Sept. 1, 2014 “The Test of Time: The Relationship Between the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware and the Swedish Royal Family.” Elected Chief Dennis Coker discusses the rekindling of that relationship after 300 years and the advancements made by both communities. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 1 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Thursdays, Sept. 4, 11, 18 and 25, 2014 “Taper Thursdays.” Learn to make your own candle and help the plantation dip 200 candles that John Dickinson would have required from his tenants as part of their leases. 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, Sept. 6, 2014 “Drums, Drums, Drums.” Guided tours explore Victor Talking Machine Company founder E.R. Johnson’s role in making music a fundamental subject in public education and in helping children to become familiar with the most popular musical instruments. In this program, visitors will learn about the significance of drums as both a means of communication and as entertainment, featuring original recordings played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. First Saturday in the First State program. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 “An Illegal Activity.” Utilizing the exhibit “An Illegal Activity: The Underground Railroad in Delaware” as a backdrop, guided tours will explore Delaware’s crucial role in the Underground Railroad and on two Delaware leaders who aided in this “freedom enterprise.” First Saturday in the First State program. First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, Delaware Public Archives building, 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Dover. Tours at 10 a.m., Noon and 2 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 “Delaware’s Native People and Archaeological Study.” Program examines Native-American artifacts from the collections of the state of Delaware and how those artifacts interpret the rich culture of the first residents of the First State. First Saturday in the First State program. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 1 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Mondays, Sept. 8, 15, 22 and 29, 2014 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 in advance by reservation through the Shop Delaware website. For additional information, call 302-645-1148.

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

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

Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014 “The First People of the First State: A Lenape Celebration of Heritage.” Third annual celebration featuring the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware as they honor mother earth and Native-American culture with dancing and demonstrations. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Celebration Noon 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055. Note time change.

Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014 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.

Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014 “The Star Spangled Banner: Then and Now.” Program examines the development of America’s national anthem through time with original recordings played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. Program 2 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055. Recently added program.

Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014 “Hearth Cooking Basics.” Hands-on workshop. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 11 a.m.–1 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturdays, Sept. 20 and 27, 2014 “First People of the First State.” Two-part lecture, based on the research of Delaware archaeologist Cara Blume, explores Delaware’s Native-American communities of the past and present. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 1 p.m. on both days. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055. Programs cancelled.

Saturday Sept. 20, 2014 “Lost and Found: Native American Identity in Delaware’s Public Schools.” Panel discussion examines the challenges that Delaware’s Native-American students faced during segregation and the subsequent integration of the public schools. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 1 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055. Recently added program.

Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014 Arts in the Estuary.”Celebrate National Estuaries Day from the artistic viewpoint including the work of artisans, performers and authors. Partnership with the St. Jones Reserve. 10 a.m.–2 p.m. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road and St. Jones Reserve, 818 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. 302-739-3277.

 Saturday Sept. 27, 2014 “Smoked, Pickled and Salted for Survival.” Learn how smoked, pickled and salted meats helped stretch food reserves in the winter, and participate in pickling meats with brine and smoking meats in the plantation’s smokehouse. 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.

Historic-site interpreters outside the John Dickinson Plantation’s smokehouse.

Historic-site interpreters outside the John Dickinson Plantation’s smokehouse.

Saturday Sept. 27, 2014 “Surviving Invasion: Learning About the First Peoples of the First State.” Based on the research of Dr. Cara Blume, this lecture will explore Delaware’s Native-American communities of the past and present. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 1 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055. Recently added program.

Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014 Native-American-themed program. Speaker TBD. “Capt. John Smith and his Encounter with the Nanticoke Indians.” Lecture by archaeologist Dan Griffith explores the natural environment of the Nanticoke River watershed in the early 17th century with a focus on the indigenous Nanticoke Indians and their encounter with Capt. John Smith. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Program at 2 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-645-1148. Note additional program description.

 

Public comment sought regarding Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief grant awards

July 29th, 2014 by Jim Yurasek

On July 29, 2014, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs announced three awards for the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Assistance Grants for Historic Properties program and is seeking public comment on its finding that the selected projects will not adversely affect historic properties.

Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the East Coast of the United States in October 2012.

Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the East Coast of the United States in October 2012.

The grant program is funded under the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in response to the effects of the destructive hurricane which struck the East Coast of the United States in late October 2012. As part of the act, $50 million was appropriated to the National Park Service to cover the costs of preserving and/or rehabilitating historic properties damaged by the storm. Subsequently, the National Park Service allocated $1 million for Delaware’s component of the program which is being administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. The purpose of the program is to help return damaged historic properties to useful condition, preserving the state’s cultural heritage for future generations.

The division publicly announced the availability of the grants and posted information on the program in January 2014. To qualify, properties were required to be listed, or eligible for listing, in the National Register of Historic Places, and have documented damage that resulted from the effects of the storm. Eligible properties included those owned by private individuals or organizations, local governments, or the state.

The division received three applications. A technical-review committee found that all three of the applications qualified for funding according to the selection criteria and application requirements. Because the currently approved applications did not exhaust the full amount of funds awarded to Delaware, the division may elect to hold another round of grant applications. Additionally, in accordance with its agreement with the National Park Service, the division plans to apply some of the remaining funds toward improving data on the location and nature of historic properties in areas vulnerable to such storm events, assisting in disaster planning.

The three historic properties that will be assisted by the program are as follows:

Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse
Location:  Situated on the outer breakwater in Lewes harbor
Built:  1926
Historical significance:  Listed in the National Register in 1989 as a contributing structure within the National Harbor of Refuge and Delaware Breakwater Harbor Historic District, a nationally significant aid-to-navigation and safe harbor
Ownership:  Non-profit
Storm damage:  Results of wind-driven water and waves
Federal grant:  Up to $360,000
Scope of work:  Replacement of dock and stairs leading to lighthouse; assessment of condition of lighthouse
Historic-preservation outcome:  The grant-funded work will define the critical preservation work necessary to maintain and preserve the lighthouse, and will restore proper access to allow such work to occur and to further the organization’s public interpretation and educational programming

Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse with intact dock.

Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse with intact dock.

Storm-damaged dock at the Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse.

Storm-damaged dock at the Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse.

Milford New Century Club
Location:  18 N. Church St., Milford
Built:  1885
Historical significance:  Individually listed in the National Register in 1982 as part of a multiple-property nomination for the city of Milford, the building is significant for its architecture and as a long-standing community center, a purpose it still serves
Ownership:  Non-profit
Storm damage:  Results of high wind, wind-driven rain and rising water
Federal grant:  Up to $60,000
Scope of work:  Replacement of roof and associated interior and exterior repairs; exterior painting and associated repairs; replacement of HVAC system
Historic-preservation outcome:  The grant-funded work will secure the building’s exterior to prevent further damage and deterioration, and will allow the building to again be used year-round for the organization’s civic projects and rental for local events

Milford New Century Club after Hurricane Sandy.

Milford New Century Club after Hurricane Sandy.

Phillips Potato House
Location:  7472 Portsville Road, Laurel
Built:  Circa 1900
Historical significance:  Individually listed in the National Register in 1990 as part of a multiple-property nomination for sweet potato houses, a specialized agricultural outbuilding in Sussex County. The potato houses reflect the modernization of agricultural practices in southern Delaware during the first half of the 20th century including the emergence of truck farming
Ownership:  Private
Storm damage:  Results of high wind, wind-driven rain and water run-off
Federal grant:  Up to $42,000
Scope of work:  Removal of damaged asphalt siding and repair of wood siding and trim; window repair; removal of metal roofing and restoration of wood shingles; foundation repairs
Historic-preservation outcome:  The grant-funded work will secure the building’s exterior to prevent further damage and deterioration, and provide an opportunity for returning the building to agricultural use and/or for an adaptive reuse to include public interpretation of agricultural practices

Phillips Potato House after Hurricane Sandy

Phillips Potato House after Hurricane Sandy.

In order to receive funding, the grantees must ensure that the repair work is consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, and must maintain and preserve the properties for a period of time thereafter. Grantees must also document that consulting and contractual services have been open to competitive bidding and selected in accordance with state and federal law. Grantees must also comply with a number of other reporting requirements to demonstrate that the project is properly carried out. These commitments are documented in a grant agreement that is signed by the division and the grantee.

The division has received the National Park Service’s approval to award these three grants on the condition that all program requirements are being met including compliance with federal historic preservation and environmental laws. Because the program is federally-funded, Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires that the projects’ effects on historic properties are taken into account. Section 106 also affords local governments, interested parties and the public the opportunity to comment on the projects. For more information on this law and the public’s role in the review process, go to the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation’s publication, “Protecting Historic Properties: A Citizen’s Guide to Section 106 Review.”

To fulfill its Section 106 responsibilities, the National Park Service has negotiated a programmatic agreement with the 12 states affected by Hurricane Sandy. This agreement will govern the project-review process for the states’ grant programs, including provisions for public notification and involvement in the program. The agreement also prohibits use of the funds for work that would adversely affect historic properties.

The division finds that the projects will not adversely affect historic properties because:

  • The proposed work will be designed to meet the above-referenced federal standards
  • The grantees must make legally-binding commitments to ensure that the work is properly carried out
  • The division and the National Park Service will have continuing oversight of the projects

To comment on this finding, or to request additional information about the grant program, the Section 106 review process, or the programmatic agreement, contact Gwen Davis, deputy state historic preservation officer, at 302-736-7410 or gwen.davis@state.de.us. Comments must be received by Aug. 29, 2014.

Press inquiries should be directed to Jim Yurasek at 302-736-7413 or jim.yurasek@state.de.us.

 

 

 

History was made here: Fenwick Island Lighthouse

July 23rd, 2014 by Jim Yurasek

A spotlight on one of the more than 40 historic properties owned by the state of Delaware and administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs.

Fenwick Island Lighthouse

Fenwick Island Lighthouse

One of southern Delaware’s most iconic structures, the Fenwick Island Lighthouse, will commemorate two anniversaries during August 2014—Friday, Aug. 1, will mark the 155th anniversary of the official lighting of the historic beacon; while National Lighthouse Day will be celebrated on Thursday, Aug. 7. The lighthouse, located at the intersection of 146th St. and Lighthouse Lane in Fenwick Island, Del., is open from 9 a.m. to Noon, Fridays to Mondays, during July and August; and 9 a.m. to Noon on Saturdays and Sundays from Sept. 1 to 22. The property is cared for and operated for public visitation by the New Friends of the Fenwick Island Lighthouse. For additional information, call 443-235-8521.

Fenwick Island Lighthouse in 1913. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Fenwick Island Lighthouse in 1913. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard.

About the Fenwick Island Lighthouse …

Completed in 1858, the 87-foot-tall Fenwick Island Lighthouse was built to help mariners avoid the treacherous Fenwick Shoals which are located six miles off the coast of Fenwick Island. Erected during a period of rapid expansion and improvement in the nation’s system of aids to navigation, the structure is the only brick, conical-type lighthouse ever built in the state. After completion, a third-order Fresnel lens of French manufacture was installed and the light was turned on for the first time on Aug. 1, 1859. The lighthouse continued in operation without interruption for nearly 120 years until Dec. 13, 1978, when it was decommissioned by the U. S. Coast Guard. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Due to a grassroots effort, ownership of the property was transferred to the state of Delaware in 1981, and the lighthouse was re-lit in 1982 as an unofficial, private aid to navigation.

Spiral staircase inside the Fenwick Island Lighthouse.

Spiral staircase inside the Fenwick Island Lighthouse.

The lighthouse’s grounds contain the Transpeninsular Line marker, erected on April 26, 1751, which indicates the eastern end of the line surveyed by John Watson and William Parsons of Pennsylvania and John Emory and Thomas Jones of Maryland. This line established the east-west boundary between Pennsylvania’s three lower counties (now Delaware) and the colony of Maryland. It also established the middle point of the peninsula, 35 miles to the west. The stone marker bears the coat of arms of the Calvert family on the south side and the Penn family on the north. It was accepted in 1760 and finally ratified in 1769 by King George III.

Transpeninsular-line marker

Transpeninsular Line marker

 

DSU students to present history activities for the public at four Delaware museums

July 22nd, 2014 by Jim Yurasek

On Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014, between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., the four Dover-area museums operated by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be presenting interactive, history-related activities developed by a group of incoming freshmen from Delaware State University. Activities will take place at the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, located in the Delaware Public Archives building at 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.; at the John Dickinson Plantation, located at 340 Kitts Hummock Road; at the Johnson Victrola Museum, located at 375 S. New St.; and at The Old State House, located at 25 The Green. Admission to all programs is free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-744-5055.

Delaware State University freshmen participating in a paper-marbling training session at the John Dickinson Plantation.

Jumpstart Program students participating in a paper-marbling training session at the John Dickinson Plantation.

These one-day-only public offerings are being developed as a partnership between the division’s Volunteer Program and Delaware State University’s Jumpstart Program, an academic-enrichment and leadership-development initiative that provides opportunities for first-time freshmen to get a “jumpstart” on their college careers.

As part of the partnership, the 28 participating students were divided into teams of seven members each with a separate team assigned to each of the four museums. During the activity-development process, which took place during July 2014, team members were given free rein to discuss any topic related to their respective museum’s history or exhibits and to develop enjoyable and educational activities that provide museum visitors with fresh perspectives on Delaware history. The partnership gave students a unique opportunity to experience how museums develop public programming through efficient time-management, teamwork, critical thinking and creativity—valuable skills that the students will need as they move forward in their lives.

For additional information about the partnership, contact Deanna Rishell, the division’s volunteer services coordinator, at 302-736-7411 or deanna.rishell@state.de.us.