Schedule released for 2015 tours of His Majesty’s Sloop of War DeBraak

March 31st, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

During 2015, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will again offer public 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. The lecture/tours program was a 2014 recipient of a Leadership in History Award, the American Association for State and Local History’s most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.

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

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

Lecture/tours, limited to 12 visitors per program, will take place at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on the following Mondays during 2015: June 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29; July 6, 13, 20 and 27; Aug. 3, 10, 17 and 31; and Sept. 14, 21 and 28. Note: Tours will not be conducted on Sept. 7. Nonrefundable reservations for the lecture/tours are $10 per person.

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 the exhibit “A Seaborne Citizenry: The DeBraak and Its Atlantic World.” The exhibit 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. Reservations for the DeBraak lecture/tours (restricted to persons aged 10 and above) are available through the Shop Delaware website. For additional information, call 302-645-1148.

Visitors enjoying a tour of the DeBraak hull which can be seen in the left of the photo.

Visitors enjoying a tour of the DeBraak hull which can be seen in the left of the photo.

Significance of DeBraak…

During the late-18th and early-19th centuries, sloops of war such as DeBraak played an increasingly important role in Royal Navy campaigns. These relatively small vessels combined speed, agility, shallow draft and increased firepower, all of which made them formidable naval vessels. As the only Royal Navy sloop of war from this time period that has been recovered anywhere in the world, DeBraak serves as an invaluable historical resource for a time when Great Britain was the world’s preeminent naval power.

The surviving section of the DeBraak’s hull and its associated artifact collection have been curated by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs since they were acquired by the state of Delaware in 1992. Approximately one-third of the hull survives including the keel, keelson and framing elements of the lower hull and a large section of the starboard (right) side.

Ed Gillespie named Delaware Department of State Employee of the Year

March 26th, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

During a Department of State employee-recognition ceremony held in Dover’s Old State House on March 3, 2015, Delaware Secretary of State Jeffrey W. Bullock presented the department’s 2014 Employee of the Year award to Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs physical-plant maintenance supervisor Ed Gillespie.

Ed Gillespie (center) holding his Delaware Department of State Employee of the Year award. Flanking Gillespie are (left) Delaware Secretary of State Jeffrey W. Bullock and Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs Director Tim Slavin.

Ed Gillespie (center) holding his Delaware Department of State Employee of the Year award. Flanking Gillespie are (left) Delaware Secretary of State Jeffrey W. Bullock and Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs Director Tim Slavin.

According to the nomination letter, submitted by one of his co-workers, Gillespie’s “work ethic and positive attitude, even during emergency situations, has been an example to his team.” In May 2014, the division’s physical-plant maintenance superintendent went out on extended medical leave and Gillespie stepped into the breach by accepting leadership of the Preservation-Maintenance Team. During that time, Gillespie not only made sure that daily work assignments were completed and emergencies situations addressed, he also found time to mentor two new employees in electrical and heating-venting-air-conditioning procedures.

On multiple occasions, Gillespie has worked into the night and on weekends when emergencies have arisen at division-administered sites. During a single period in August 2014, he was confronted with concurrent electrical emergencies at the Johnson Victrola Museum and at Woodburn: The Governor’s House. In a deliberate and clear-headed manner, Gillespie took control of the situation, supervising contractors and making sure that repair work was completed properly. His quick reaction and calm leadership helped protect the buildings and the people who use them.

Commenting on Gillespie’s actions, Bullock noted, “Ed took extraordinary care to calmly handle both situations, going above and beyond his required duties, to make sure that both problems were sufficiently solved before calling it a day. It was because of his actions, as well as the positivity his presence brings to his team, that he was honored as this year’s Employee of the Year for the Department of State.”

Gillespie has served as the division’s physical-plant maintenance supervisor since April 2014. Prior to that time, he served for 10 years as a physical-plant maintenance mechanic.

The Delaware Department of State’s employee recognition program provides department employees with opportunities to be recognized for significant contributions, individual achievements and exceptional overall performance attained through their daily work and/or community service.

 

Division museums closed on Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015

March 26th, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

-John Dickinson Plantation, New Castle Court House and Zwaanendael Museum also closed on Good Friday, April 3, 2015-

The six state museums administered by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs—the New Castle Court House Museum, the Johnson Victrola Museum, The Old State House, the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, the John Dickinson Plantation and the Zwaanendael Museum—will be closed on Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015. The John Dickinson Plantation, New Castle Court House and Zwaanendael Museum will also be closed for the state holiday on Good Friday, April 3, 2015. The state’s museums located in downtown Dover—the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, The Old State House and the Johnson Victrola Museum—will be open during their regularly scheduled hours on Friday, April 3, 2015. All six of the museums will be open during their regularly scheduled hours on Saturday, April 4, 2015.

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

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

“Bells Across the Land: A Nation Remembers Appomattox” on April 9, 2015

March 25th, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

For the past four years, the National Park Service and many other organizations and individuals have been commemorating the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War and the continuing efforts for human rights today. On April 9, 1865, Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant met Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee to set the terms of surrender of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

Bell tower at Dover’s Old State House. The site’s bell will ring at 3:15 p.m. on April 9, 2015 in commemoration of Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox in 1865.

Bell tower at Dover’s Old State House. The site’s bell will ring at 3:15 p.m. on April 9, 2015 in commemoration of Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox in 1865.

In conjunction with a major event at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park in Virginia, the National Park Service and its partners invite communities across the nation to join in this commemoration. The bells will ring first at Appomattox at 3 p.m. on April 9, 2015. The ringing will coincide with the moment the historic meeting between Grant and Lee in the McLean House at Appomattox Court House ended. While Lee’s surrender did not end the Civil War, the act is seen by most Americans as the symbolic end of four years of bloodshed.

After the ringing at Appomattox, bells will reverberate across the country. The First State National Historical Park; in collaboration with the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, First State Heritage Park, Lewes Historical Society and the Old Swedes Foundation; is orchestrating bell-ringing at sites across Delaware.

Houses of worship, schools, city halls, public buildings, historic sites and others are invited to join in the commemoration by ringing their bells at precisely 3:15 p.m. on Thursday, April 9, 2015. Bells should continue ringing for four minutes (each minute symbolic of a year of war).

The end of the Civil War has different meanings for different people. Each organization may customize this idea to its own situation. Participants are asked to ring bells across the nation as a gesture to mark the end of the bloody conflict in which more than 750,000 Americans perished. Some communities may ring their bells in celebration of freedom or a restored Union, others as an expression of mourning and a moment of silence for the fallen. Sites may ring bells to mark the beginning of reconciliation and reconstruction or as the next step in the continuing struggle for civil rights.

Organizations that are interested in participating in the commemoration should contact Jim Yurasek of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs at 302-736-7413 or jim.yurasek@state.de.us; Sarah Zimmerman of the First State Heritage Park at 302-739-9194 or Sarah.Zimmerman@state.de.us; or Jenny Manning of the Lewes Historical Society at 302-645-7670 or jenny@historiclewes.org.

Thus far, the following Delaware organizations have agreed to ring their bells at 3:15 p.m. on Thursday, April 9, 2015: Dover Presbyterian and Wesley United Methodist churches, John Bell House (hand bell), Kent County Courthouse, Legislative Mall’s Liberty Bell and The Old State House in Dover; Bethel Methodist, Lewes Presbyterian and St. Peter’s Episcopal churches in Lewes; Immanuel Episcopal and New Castle United Methodist churches and the New Castle Court House Museum in New Castle; Old Swedes Church in Wilmington; and the Wyoming United Methodist Church in Wyoming.

Curriculum materials regarding the Civil War and the surrender at Appomattox are available for schools by contacting Ethan McKinley of the First State National Historical Park at 302-544-6363 or Ethan_McKinley@nps.gov.

Participants are also invited to help write the history of this event by tweeting their observations at #BellsAcrosstheLand2015. Stories will be compiled in one place to see how each one helps build this national story.

Delaware State Review Board for Historic Preservation to meet on April 8, 2015

March 18th, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

Members of the public are invited to attend the next meeting of the Delaware State Review Board for Historic Preservation which will take place on Wednesday, April 8, 2015 at 1 p.m. at The Old State House located at 25 The Green in Dover, Del. As part of the meeting, the review board will discuss four new nominations to the National Register of Historic Places: Adams Home Farm, Sussex County; Evans-West House, 40 West St., Ocean View; Grantham-Edwards-McComb House, Llangollen Estates, New Castle County; and Augustine Beach Hotel, Port Penn. Due to limited spaces, attendees are encouraged to park their cars at the Delaware Public Archives located at 121 Martin Luther King Blvd. North in Dover.

In accordance with the Delaware Freedom of Information Act, this meeting is open to the public and copies of the minutes will be made available upon request in accordance with the law. Written comments should be submitted prior to the meeting date. Oral comments and questions will be invited during the meeting.

For additional information, please contact Madeline Dunn, National Register coordinator, Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, 21 The Green, Dover, DE 19901 or telephone 302-736-7417

Individuals needing reasonable accommodations in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act may call 302-736-7400 by Wednesday, April 1, 2015.


 

Division to begin improvements to state-owned historic properties in New Castle

March 17th, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

Beginning in late-March, 2015, the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be conducting a series of capital improvements at several state-owned historic properties that it administers in downtown New Castle, Del. These improvements, which are scheduled to take place through the end of 2015, represent a $350,000 public investment in the historic city on the Delaware River that serves as the home of one of the state of Delaware’s six museums, as well as the headquarters of the First State National Historical Park.

Aerial view of the New Castle Green. Located on this town commons are the New Castle Court House Museum (foreground), followed counterclockwise by the Arsenal, Immanuel Episcopal Church and the Academy. Photo by Bruce Burk.

Aerial view of the New Castle Green. Located on this town commons are the New Castle Court House Museum (foreground), followed counterclockwise by the Arsenal, Immanuel Episcopal Church and the Academy. Photo by Bruce Burk.

 

Improvements will include roof replacement at the New Castle Court House Museum, renovation of the Arsenal’s south entry-door and first-floor restroom, rebuilding of a deteriorating brick garden-wall at the Academy and stabilization of the Green’s pedestrian pathways.

New Castle residents and visitors may experience some inconveniences during the time that improvements are taking place including temporary restrictions on pedestrian access; and the presence of building equipment, materials and barriers. In particular, roofing materials that will be utilized at the New Castle Court House will be temporarily placed along the curb near the Sheriff’s House located at 10 Market St. This placement, approved by the City of New Castle, will provide workers with ready access to the supplies and equipment that they need to expedite the repair process. With this and all of the other components of the 2015 New Castle Campus Improvement Plan, division staff, project consultants and contractors will make every effort to keep disruptions to a minimum and to facilitate the timely completion of improvements that will make historic New Castle a better place to live and visit.

The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ 2015 New Castle Campus Improvement Plan includes projects at the following locations:

  • The New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St.
    Constructed in 1732, the New Castle Court House served as Delaware’s first court and state capitol. Here in 1776, New Castle, Kent and Sussex Counties declared their independence from Pennsylvania and England creating the Delaware State. Operated by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the museum features tours and exhibits that illustrate Delaware’s unique boundaries, law and government and the Underground Railroad.Scheduled improvements include removal of the court house’s deteriorated terra-cotta roofing system; installation of a new terra-cotta roofing system and flashings; new coating on the west-wing metal roof; renovations to the cupola metal-roof and weathervane; replacement of balustrade wood-components where needed; and associated repairs.
New Castle Court House Museum

New Castle Court House Museum

  • The Arsenal, 30 Market St.
    The Arsenal was originally constructed in 1809 as a one-story windowless building used by the United States government as a storage place for weapons and ammunition. Transferred to the Trustees of the New Castle Common in the mid-1800s, the building was enlarged to two stories in 1855 for use as a school. It served as the New Castle High School until 1930 and was later used for offices and a restaurant. The building is currently leased to the New Castle Historical Society which utilizes it for office space and as a venue for events. Scheduled improvements include renovation of the building’s south entry-door and first-floor restroom to meet current accessibility standards.
The Arsenal

The Arsenal

  • New Castle Academy, 31 E. Third St.
    The New Castle Academy was built in 1799 according to a design by Peter Crowding, a Philadelphia master builder. It served as a public school until 1930 when the New Castle High School was built. The building is currently leased to Immanuel Episcopal Church which utilizes it for many church-related and community activities. Scheduled improvements include rebuilding of the deteriorating brick garden-wall along the Third Street side of the building.
New Castle Academy

New Castle Academy

  • New Castle Green
    The New Castle Green was laid out by the Dutch in 1655. Several of New Castle’s most important buildings surround this town commons including The New Castle Court House Museum, the Sheriff’s House, the Arsenal, Immanuel Episcopal Church and the Academy. Scheduled improvements include stabilization of sections of the Green’s pedestrian pathways where the grading has deteriorated.
New Castle Green

New Castle Green

 

Division offering 20 special events during April 2015

March 11th, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

During the month of April 2015, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be offering 20 special programs at sites across the state. Except where noted, all programs are free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-744-5055.

“Landing of the DeVries Colony at Swaanendael, Lewes, Delaware 1631” by Stanley M. Arthurs. Courtesy of the permanent collection of the University of Delaware. Delaware’s Dutch heritage will be explored in three programs at the Zwaanendael Museum during April 2015.

“Landing of the DeVries Colony at Swaanendael, Lewes, Delaware 1631” by Stanley M. Arthurs. Courtesy of the permanent collection of the University of Delaware. Delaware’s Dutch heritage will be explored in three programs at the Zwaanendael Museum during April 2015.

Delaware’s long-standing connection to the Netherlands—which stretches back in time to the state’s first European colony, Swanendael, established by the Dutch in 1631 in present-day Lewes—will be explored in three programs that will take place at the Zwaanendael Museum, located at 102 Kings Highway in Lewes.

From Thursday to Saturday, April 9 to 11, the museum will feature Dutch games, crafts and a display of Delftware ceramics as part of the Lewes Tulip Celebration, a city-wide series of activities celebrating Lewes’ Dutch roots. On Saturday, April 18, the museum will celebrate Dutch-American Friendship Day which commemorates April 19, 1782, the day that John Adams, who would later become the second president of the United States, was received by the States General in The Hague and recognized as Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States of America. It was also the day that the house he had purchased at Fluwelen Burgwal 18 in The Hague was to become the first American embassy in the world. Finally, on Saturday, April 25, the museum will present King’s Day, a celebration of the birthday of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands.

Other April highlights include living-history performances in which actors from the American Historical Theatre portray President Abraham Lincoln at 1 p.m. on Sunday, April 26 and author Louisa May Alcott at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 30. Both performances will be held in The Old State House located at 25 The Green in Dover.

Bob Gleason of the American Historical Theatre will portray President Abraham Lincoln on April 26, 2015.

Bob Gleason of the American Historical Theatre will portray President Abraham Lincoln on April 26, 2015.

Finally, on Wednesday, April 22, between 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., the John Dickinson Plantation, located at 340 Kitts Hummock Road in Dover, will present Earth Day at the John Dickinson Plantation in which visitors will have an opportunity to explore the natural beauty at the home of the “Penman of the Revolution,” enjoy tours of the colonial-revival garden and create a scented sachet. Special events, April 2015

Thursday, April 2, 2015
“Play That Old-Time Country Music.” Musical program on Victor Records’ early recordings of country music, accompanied by 78-rpm records played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. Part of the History Coffee-Hour Lecture Series. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. 5:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, April 4, 2015
“1904 Fire at the Camden Plant.” Guided tours focus on the fire that devastated the Victor Talking Machine Company’s Camden, N.J. plant in 1904, and the changes in safety and manufacturing that resulted from the tragedy. Tours will also feature a special blend of vintage 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, April 4, 2014
“Delaware Poetry: JoAnn Balingit, Poet Laureate of Delaware.” In celebration of National Poetry Month, Delaware’s poet laureate will discuss her passion and read some of her poetry. The program will also feature poets Lucian Mattison and Linda Blaskey and a panel discussion entitled “Poetry: The Language of Home.”  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.

Thursday, April 9, 2015
“Bells Across the Land: A Nation Remembers Appomattox.” Bells across Delaware including the New Castle Court House Museum and Dover’s Old State House will ring in commemoration of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox in 1865. 3:15 p.m. 302-544-6363 or 215-341-0032.

Thursday, April 9, 2015
“Sharing Delaware History: The Exploits of Allen McLane.” Living-history theatrical performance by museum historical-interpreter Tom Welch portraying Delaware’s Revolutionary War hero Allen McLane who will discuss his many intelligence-gathering activities during the conflict. Part of the History Coffee-Hour Lecture Series. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. 5:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Thursday–Saturday, April 9–11, 2015
Lewes Tulip Celebration. City-wide series of activities celebrating Lewes’ Dutch heritage including Dutch games, crafts and a display of Delftware ceramics at the Zwaanendael Museum. Sponsored by the Lewes Chamber of Commerce. Downtown Lewes. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. 302-645-8073.

Friday–Saturday, April 10–11, 2015
Wildcat Prowl in Lewes. Explore one of America’s oldest towns including programs at the Zwaanendael Museum and tours of the DeBraak hull. Sponsored by the Wilmington University Alumni Association. Downtown Lewes.  Admission fee. 302-295-1174.

Saturday, April 11, 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.

Thursday, April 16, 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 and statesman who served as Delaware’s governor for a short period. Part of the History Coffee-Hour Lecture Series. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. 5:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Friday, April 17, 2015
‘Over There’: How Victor’s Musical Industry Influenced the Nation During World War I.” Two-part program begins with a lecture on the contributions of the Victor Talking Machine Company to the war effort to be presented at the Dover Public Library, followed by a presentation at the Johnson Victrola Museum on Victor’s World War I era recordings played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. Partnership between the library and the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. Program begins at 7 p.m. at the Dover Public Library, 35 Loockerman Plaza, Dover. 302-736-7030.

Saturday, April 18, 2015
Dutch-American Friendship Day. Discover Delaware’s Dutch roots and learn how that connection is alive today. Event features a program at 2 p.m. on bicycling in the Netherlands and Delaware. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-645-1148.

Saturday, April 18, 2014
“The Spring Storm: A Celebration of  Spoken Word.” National Poetry Month program featuring Delaware’s own Spoken-Word artists—Amillion the Poet, SuiteFranchon, Gemele and the Twin Poets; plus a special presentation by Hannah Sturgis, Delaware’s winner of the 2015 Poetry Out Loud contest. The Spoken-Word genre utilizes performance-based poetry focusing on the aesthetics of word play and story-telling. Partnership between the divisions of the Arts, and Historical and Cultural Affairs. 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, April 18, 2015
“The Story of Dinah.” Program explores the life and craft of Dinah Patten, an accomplished spinner and enslaved person owned by the John Dickinson family. A hands-on activity will accompany the program in which the audience learns how to prepare wool for spinning. Partnership between the Dover Public Library and the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. Dover Public Library, 35 Loockerman Plaza, Dover. 2 p.m. 302-736-7030.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015
“Earth Day at the John Dickinson Plantation. Explore the natural beauty at the home of the “Penman of the Revolution,” enjoy tours of the colonial-revival garden and create a scented sachet. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Activities 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Thursday, April 23, 2015
“Women’s Words: Delaware’s Civil War Diarists.” Lecture brings to life the Civil-War-era diaries of Delawareans Elizabeth Dorsey and Anna Ferris. Part of the History Coffee-Hour Lecture Series. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. 5:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, April 25, 2015
King’s Day. Celebration of the birthday of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands in a program that will also explore royal titles and Delaware’s Dutch connection. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-645-1148.

Sunday, April 26, 2014
“Abraham Lincoln.” Living-history performance in which Robert Gleason of the American Historical Theatre portrays President Abraham Lincoln. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 1 p.m. Museum open 12:30–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015
“Freemasons in the Civil War.” Presentation by David Price, a 32nd-degree Freemason, on the participation of the fraternity’s members in the battles of  First Manassas, Shiloh, Antietam, Gettysburg and Appomattox; as well as a story about Col. John Singleton Mosby and the draft lottery of 1864. New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle. 7 p.m. 302-323-4453.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015
“Governor Ross of Delaware: Southern Sympathizer.” Claudia Leister, director of the Milford Museum will discuss the events and attitudes of the 19th-century Delaware governor. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. 7 p.m.  302-744-5055.

Thursday, April 30, 2014
“Louisa May Alcott.” Living-history performance in which Pat Jordan of the American Historical Theatre portrays the American novelist Louisa May Alcott, best known for her book “Little Women.” Part of the Dover Days Festival. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 7 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Pat Jordan of the American Historical Theatre will portray novelist Louisa May Alcott on April 30, 2015.

Pat Jordan of the American Historical Theatre will portray novelist Louisa May Alcott on April 30, 2015.

Current division-sponsored displays

March 10th, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

In addition to sponsoring exhibits and special programs at sites across Delaware, the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs creates small displays that provide a brief accent on different aspects of history and culture. Less formal than exhibits, these displays provide a compliment to the primary activities available at museums, historic sites, libraries, government buildings, visitor centers and other public places.

Carved slate featuring a likeness of Abraham Lincoln that was on-board the funeral train that left Washington, D.C. on April 21, 1865 bound for Springfield, Ill. The object is part of the display “Delaware Mourns Lincoln: A Demonstration of Love and Sorrow” that will open at The Old State House on April 21, 2015.

Carved slate featuring a likeness of Abraham Lincoln. The object was on-board Lincoln’s funeral train that left Washington, D.C. on April 21, 1865 bound for Springfield, Ill. It is part of the display “Delaware Mourns Lincoln: A Demonstration of Love and Sorrow” that will open at The Old State House on April 21, 2015.

Following is information on “Delaware Mourns Lincoln: A Demonstration of Love and Sorrow,” a display that will open at Dover, Del.’s Old State House on April 21, 2015, plus a listing of all division-sponsored displays that are currently on-view at sites across Delaware:

  •  Opening April 21, 2015
     “Delaware Mourns Lincoln: A Demonstration of Love and Sorrow”
    The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Mon.–Sat., 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Sun., 1:30–4:30 p.m. Free admission. 302-744-5055.

Utilizing graphics, clothing and memorabilia from the collections of the state of Delaware, the display will explore how Delawareans expressed their deep sorrow upon the death of President Abraham Lincoln on April 15, 1865. The display opens on April 21, 2015 in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the funeral train’s departure from Washington, D.C. for the burial of the president in Springfield, Ill.

  • Thru April 14, 2015
    “Simple Pleasures: Play and Dance”
    Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Wed.–Sat., 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. from Nov. 1–March 31. Tue.–Sat., 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m.; Sun., 1:30–4:30 p.m. from April 1–Oct. 31. Free admission. 302-645-1148.

Display of original Edwardian and roaring-20s fall and winter fashions that reflect the spirit of the liberated “modern” woman as depicted in the “Downton Abbey” television series. From the collections of the state of Delaware.

Section of the display “Simple Pleasures: Play and Dance” at the Zwaanendael Museum.

Section of the display “Simple Pleasures: Play and Dance” at the Zwaanendael Museum.

  •  Thru April 19, 2015
    “Simple Pleasures: Play and Dance”
    The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Mon.–Sat., 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Sun., 1:30–4:30 p.m. Free admission. 302-744-5055.

Display of original Edwardian and roaring-20s fall and winter fashions that reflect the spirit of the liberated “modern” woman as depicted in the “Downton Abbey” television series. From the collections of the state of Delaware.

  •  Ongoing
    Sculpture by Charles Parks
    New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle. Wed.–Sat., 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Sun., 1:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m. Free admission. 302-323-4453.

The display features depictions of noted historical and political figures including a Minute Man, and presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and George W. Bush. The works compliment the familiar statue of William Penn, also created by Parks, which stands in front of the Arsenal building on Market Street in New Castle.

Over the course of a prolific 50-plus-year career, Charles Parks created more than 500 sculptures for individuals, public parks and plazas throughout Delaware and across the United States. His numerous honors and awards include a Gold Medal for Exemplary Contributions to the Arts from the state of Delaware (1973), the Watrous Gold Medal from the National Academy of Design, the Meiselman Prize for Classical Sculpture from the National Sculpture Society, the Gold Medal from the National Sculpture Society Annual Exhibition and the Tiffany Foundation Award for Creative Sculpture. In 2011, Parks and his wife donated more than 300 of the sculptor’s works to the state of Delaware including bronzes, plasters, woodworks and over 250 fiberglass works ranging in size from eight inches to nine feet from various periods in Parks’ career.

Bust of Richard Nixon by Charles Parks. The work is currently on-display at the New Castle Court House Museum.

Bust of Richard Nixon by Charles Parks. The work is currently on-display at the New Castle Court House Museum.

  • Ongoing
    “World War II Through the Lens of William D. Willis”
    Legislative Hall, 411 Legislative Ave., Dover. Limited visitation hours; call 302-739-9194 before planning a visit. Free admission.

On view over the course of a year, the display will be presented in three succeeding segments, each featuring a different selection of images from The William D. Willis World War II Photographic Collection. The Willis collection includes more than 600 photographs taken by the Dover, Del. native during military service in Western Europe between 1943 and 1945 including images of crash scenes and battle-damaged military aircraft, photos of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp and aerial views of villages in Normandy, France. Willis also photographed the daily procedures of base life as well as United Service Organizations (USO) shows featuring celebrities such as Jack Benny and Ingrid Bergman and a concert by Glenn Miller and his Orchestra. This large photographic collection, of which only approximately 20 images will be featured in each segment of the display, surfaced after Willis’ death and was brought to the division’s attention which accepted it into the permanent collections of the state of Delaware in 2012.

William D. Willis photograph of two P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft.

William D. Willis photograph of two P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft.

William D. Willis was born on June 14, 1919 in Dover, Del. After graduating from Dover High School in 1939, he worked as a mechanic in an automobile-repair shop in his home town. On May 16, 1941, he entered active duty in the U.S. Army where he received training in Army Air Forces motor mechanics at Fort Devens, Mass. Pfc. Willis served as a mechanic for a year after completing his training and was then transferred to the position of photographic technician with the 9th Photo Technician Unit, taking and developing pictures and handling various phases of laboratory work pertaining to negative processing. He departed for the European Theater of Operations on Aug. 9, 1943 and served there until Sept. 26, 1945. For most of his service, he was attached to the 20th Fighter Group at Kings Cliffe, England.

 

Delaware State Historic Preservation Office recent accomplishments

February 25th, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

On Feb. 25, 2015, the Delaware State Historic Preservation Office released a report on some of the most significant accomplishments that it has achieved during the past year. A unit of the state’s Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the office administers a broad range of federal and state programs that identify, register and help to preserve Delaware’s historic places and unique cultural identity.

Go to the following to read the report.SHPO Cover 2015 compressed

National Historic Preservation Advocacy Week in Washington, D.C., March 2-4, 2015

February 18th, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

Historic preservationists from across the country will meet in Washington, D.C. from March 2 to 4, 2015 for National Historic Preservation Advocacy Week, an annual gathering that promotes sound federal preservation policy and programs. Sponsored by Preservation Action and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers, activities will include sessions on key preservation-related issues capped off by visits to Capitol Hill for meetings with members of Congress.

National Historic Preservation Advocacy Week 2015 logo