Zwaanendael Museum to close at noon on Nov. 6, 2014

October 29th, 2014 by Jim Yurasek

The Zwaanendael Museum, located at 102 Kings Highway in Lewes, Del., will close at Noon on Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014 for Return Day, a ceremonial holiday held on the Thursday after Election Day in Georgetown, Del. Return Day features the announcement of Delaware’s election results and has become an occasion for extensive festivities. The Zwaanendael Museum will return to its regular hours of operation on Friday, Nov. 7, 2014.

Zwaanendael Museum hours from Nov. 1 to March 31 are Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and Sunday, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. From April 1 to Oct. 31, museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and Sunday, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free. For additional information, call 302-645-1148.

Zwaanendael Museum

Zwaanendael Museum

 

Zwaanendael Museum

Two additional Delaware properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places

October 29th, 2014 by Jim Yurasek

The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs has recently received notification from the National Park Service that two additional Delaware properties—St. Stephen’s Protestant Episcopal Church in Harrington and the Union Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church Complex in Clarksville—have been officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the United States government’s official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects deemed worthy of preservation.

Located at 110 Fleming St. in Harrington, St. Stephen’s Protestant Episcopal Church is a small, wood frame, one-story structure that is the town’s only known example of vernacular Carpenter Gothic architecture. Though originally constructed for religious purposes, the building is currently owned by the Harrington Historical Society which operates it as a museum that chronicles the town’s history. The structure retains a substantial degree of architectural integrity including the original stained-glass window at the apex of the west façade, a bell tower with X-shaped cross-bracing at the southwest corner of the building, original decorative electroplated-hardware and its original board-and-batten siding.

St. Stephen's Protestant Episcopal Church

St. Stephen’s Protestant Episcopal Church

The history of the church is deeply associated with the Rev. J. Leighton McKim who ministered to St. Stephen’s first congregation. Ordained in 1859 and assigned to Christ Church in Milford in 1862, he eventually became known as the highest paid Episcopal missionary in Delaware. As the principal donor, McKim oversaw the construction, by subscription, of St. Stephen’s Church in 1876. Though the mission existed as part of the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware, McKim retained personal ownership of the building and property throughout his life. Applications requesting that St. Stephen’s be established as a separate parish within the diocese during the 19th century were rejected because of its private ownership status. It was not until after McKim’s death in 1918 that ownership of St. Stephen’s was transferred to the Delaware Diocese.

Located near the Sussex County community of Clarksville, the Union Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church Complex is a grouping of buildings dating from the 19th century to the present that serves as a center of religious life and traditions in the African-American community of southern Delaware. The parcel contains the Union Wesley United Methodist Church (1959), the Blackwater School (1890), a camp-meeting ground (circa 1873) and a large cemetery. The camp-meeting ground features a circular design with a centrally placed large bower (covered but open-sided structure for worship) surrounded by the “tents” that serve as residences for the attendees of the two-week-long annual camp-meeting. The earliest surviving “tents” are small-frame, gable-roofed, two-bay wide and two-stories tall.

Early “tent” buildings at the Union Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church camp-meeting ground.

Early “tent” buildings at the Union Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church camp-meeting ground.

The building that serves as the camp’s refectory, or dining hall, is the former one-room Blackwater School which served the educational needs of African Americans from 1890 until 1922 when it was replaced by a school built by industrialist Pierre S. du Pont. Constructed under the auspices of the Delaware Association for the Moral Improvement and Education of the Colored People, the Blackwater School retains a high level of architectural integrity and is the best surviving example in Delaware of the school buildings constructed for black children during the post-Civil-War period.

The Blackwater School

The Blackwater School

 

Meet the staff of the Buena Vista Conference Center

October 29th, 2014 by Jim Yurasek

Featuring more than 300 events in 2013, and serving over 10,000 guests, the Buena Vista Conference Center is certainly a popular place. Called “the perfect wedding location” in Delaware Bride Magazine’s fall/winter 2013-2014 edition, Buena Vista features “lush grounds, cozy accommodations and luxe décor” that are utilized for a wide variety of functions including business gatherings and government meetings as well as receptions, parties and celebrations.

With that kind of acclaim, someone must be doing something right, and that someone (or some people as the case may be) are the conference center’s highly capable staff members. Following are profiles of these dedicated individuals who are helping to make events at Buena Vista a memorable experience.

Desiree Williams (left) and Morgan Booker

Desiree Williams (left) and Morgan Booker

Overall administration of Buena Vista is managed by Desiree Williams and Morgan Booker who work together to maintain customer relations, meet with new clients, conduct tours of the property, schedule events, process reservation agreements and billing, delegate and monitor staff duties, create and manage social-media initiatives, and oversee the maintenance and upkeep of the house and grounds.

Desiree Williams began service in April 2014 having previously worked as an administrator with the Delaware Department of State. Originally from New York City, Williams attended Delaware State University on a full scholarship, graduating in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and public relations. During the course of her studies, she served as a summer intern at the Cable News Network (CNN) and at the public-relations firm Brotman-Winter-Fried in McLean, Va. The Smyrna, Del. resident is now realizing one of her career objectives by working in the field of event planning.

Morgan Booker began work at Buena Vista in July 2014. She received her bachelor’s degree from Texas A & M University in 2013 with a major in horticulture and a minor in business. While at the university, she volunteered for the Opera and Performing Arts Society of the Memorial Student Center (MSC OPAS), a student organization that presents professional productions of theatre, music and dance. After moving to the East Coast in 2013, she worked in administration, public relations and promotion for the Friends of Belmont Hall in Smyrna, Del.; and as a restaurant floor-manager and a member of the catering team at the Kitty Knight House in Georgetown, Md. The Tyler, Texas native now lives in Wilmington, Del.

Sally Shorey, a familiar face at Buena Vista, has worked at the conference center since 2001. Her responsibilities include customer relations and hospitality, and the upkeep and cleanliness of the facility’s kitchen. A life-long Delawarean and graduate of John Dickinson High School, she currently lives in Bear. Prior to joining the Buena Vista staff, Shorey worked for a local catering firm and for Chemical Bank in Newark, Del. She and her husband of 49 years have two children and three grandchildren.

Sally Shorey

Sally Shorey

Housekeepers Ryan Cardwell, Kevin Garner and Carlton Hall work hard to ensure that Buena Vista is clean and ready for the many visitors that attend events at the site. In addition to the upkeep of the house, they are responsible for the set-up and break-down of events, and assist in a wide variety of tasks including food service, hospitality, customer relations and inventory management.

(From left) Kevin Garner, Carlton Hall and Ryan Cardwell.

(From left) Kevin Garner, Carlton Hall and Ryan Cardwell.

Lifelong Wilmingtonian Ryan Cardwell received both his high school diploma and a certificate in facilities maintenance from the Job Corps Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. A member of the Buena Vista staff since June 2013, Cardwell previously worked in construction and at Sears, as well as serving as an inventory clerk for the Delaware Transit Corporation (DART) and as an account representative for Comcast.

Brooklyn-born Kevin Garner joined the Buena Vista staff in June 2013. He has studied both heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC), and accounting in New York City and is continuing his studies at Goldey-Beacom College in Wilmington with the ultimate goal of becoming a certified public account. Prior to moving to the First State in February 2013, Garner worked for Graffiti-Free NYC, a graffiti removal service in the City of New York. He currently lives in Newark, Del.

Carlton Hall holds a bachelor’s degree in theater arts from Cheyney University and a master’s degree in historic preservation from Delaware State University. Originally from Salem, N.J., the New Castle resident previously worked in food service at the Glen Mills Schools, a residential facility for juvenile delinquents located in Glen Mills, Pa. He joined the Buena Vista staff in September 2014.

Mansion house at Buena Vista.

Mansion house at Buena Vista.

Located at 661 S. Dupont Highway (Route 13), southwest of New Castle, Buena Vista is one of Delaware’s most historic homes. The main section of the house was built between 1845 and 1847 by John M. Clayton, United States secretary of state from 1849 to 1850 under presidents Taylor and Fillmore, and United States senator from 1829 to 1836, 1845 to 1849 and 1853 until his death in 1856. The home later became the residence of C. Douglass Buck, governor of Delaware from 1929 to 1937 and United States senator from 1942 to 1948. Buena Vista and its grounds were donated to the state by the Buck family in 1965 and now serve as a state conference center administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs.

Division seeks next-of-kin for unmarked human remains found near Hawks Nest Circle in Lewes, Sussex County

October 28th, 2014 by Jim Yurasek

In accordance with Title 7, Chapter 54, Section 5406(b) of the Delaware Code, the Director of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, Department of State, hereby gives notice of the discovery of unmarked human skeletal remains near Hawks Nest Circle in Lewes, Sussex County. The remains were discovered during construction work on private property.

The number of graves, and the age, gender and ethnicity of the individuals is uncertain. At least three burials are present. Initial study indicates that at least one of the individuals is of European or African descent. The dates of the burials are unknown, but are most likely to be between 1670 and 1900. The Woolgast, Clark, Clement, Oldman, Jacobs, Clarke, Phillips, Thomas, Burton, Wolfe, Gibbons and Willard families owned the land during this time period, but there may have been undocumented inhabitants.

Any persons who have reason to believe they may be next-of-kin to these individuals or have evidence that they have relatives buried in this location should contact the Director, Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, 21 The Green, Dover, DE 19901-3611; telephone 302-736-7400; weekdays between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.; no later than Dec. 3, 2014.

Division honored with prestigious History in Progress Award

October 15th, 2014 by Jim Yurasek

The American Association for State and Local History has presented a prestigious History in Progress Award to the Delaware Historical Society and the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs for their collaborative exhibit “Forging Faith, Building Freedom: African American Faith Experiences in Delaware, 1800-1980.” The award, a component of the association’s Leadership in History Awards program, is presented for projects that are highly inspirational; exhibit exceptional scholarship; and/or are exceedingly entrepreneurial in terms of funding, partnerships or collaborations, creative problem-solving or unusual project design, and inclusiveness. Only four projects in the entire nation were honored with the award in 2014.

Presentation of the History in Progress Award for the exhibit “Forging Faith, Building Freedom: African American Faith Experiences in Delaware, 1800-1980.” From left are Bob Beatty, interim president and chief executive officer of the American Association for State and Local History; Constance J. Cooper, chief curator of the Delaware Historical Society; Marian Carpenter, Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs curator of collections management; and Lynne Ireland, deputy director of the Nebraska State Historical Society and immediate-past chairperson of the American Association for State and Local History.

Presentation of the History in Progress Award for the exhibit “Forging Faith, Building Freedom: African American Faith Experiences in Delaware, 1800-1980.” From left are Bob Beatty, interim president and chief executive officer of the American Association for State and Local History; Constance J. Cooper, chief curator of the Delaware Historical Society; Marian Carpenter, Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs curator of collections management; and Lynne Ireland, deputy director of the Nebraska State Historical Society and immediate-past chairperson of the American Association for State and Local History.

“Forging Faith, Building Freedom: African American Faith Experiences in Delaware, 1800-1980” explored the faith experiences of Delaware’s black community and its contributions to the development of religion in the United States including a commemoration of the bicentennial of the African Union Methodist tradition and the August Quarterly, the nation’s oldest African-American religious festival.

Section of the exhibit “Forging Faith, Building Freedom: African American Faith Experiences in Delaware, 1800-1980.”

Section of the exhibit “Forging Faith, Building Freedom: African American Faith Experiences in Delaware, 1800-1980.”

On-display from Sept. 27, 2013 to June 14, 2014 at the Delaware History Museum, a unit of the Delaware Historical Society located at 504 N. Market St. in Wilmington, Del., the exhibit was created through a partnership between the society’s curatorial staff, which researched and wrote the exhibit narrative and organized loans of exhibited objects; and the division’s Collections, Affiliates, Research and Exhibits (CARE) Team which designed, fabricated and installed the exhibit. Go to the following to view the exhibit online.

History in Progress Award for the exhibit “Forging Faith, Building Freedom: African American Faith Experiences in Delaware, 1800-1980.”

History in Progress Award for the exhibit “Forging Faith, Building Freedom: African American Faith Experiences in Delaware, 1800-1980.”

The American Association for State and Local History initiated the Leadership in History Awards program in 1945 to establish and encourage standards of excellence in the collection, preservation and interpretation of state and local history throughout America. In 2014, the association conferred 77 national awards honoring people, projects, exhibits, books and organizations.

In addition to the History in Progress award, the “Forging Faith” exhibit was honored with an Award of Merit which recognizes excellence in history programs, projects and people when compared with similar activities nationwide. The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs was also the recipient of an Award of Merit for the “The DeBraak and Its Atlantic World,” a multi-dimensional interpretive program on the British warship that sank off the coast of Delaware in the late 18th century.

Visitors enjoying a tour of the DeBraak hull as part of the program “The DeBraak and Its Atlantic World.”

Visitors enjoying a tour of the DeBraak hull as part of the program “The DeBraak and Its Atlantic World.”

In addition to its three Leadership in History awards, the division was also recognized as a graduate of the association’s StEPs program (Standards and Excellence Program for History Organizations) which helps small- and mid-sized history museums assess policies and practices, manage daily operations and plan for the future.

All of the honors noted above were conferred during the American Association for State and Local History’s awards banquet which took place in St. Paul, Minn. on Sept. 19, 2014. Constance J. Cooper, chief curator of the Delaware Historical Society, and Marian Carpenter, the division’s curator of collections management, accepted honors on behalf of their respective organizations.

Division to offer 19 free programs during November 2014

October 9th, 2014 by Jim Yurasek

During the month of November 2014, the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be offering 19 special programs at the state of Delaware’s museums. A full schedule of events is included below. All programs listed are free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-744-5055.

House chamber in Dover, Del.’s Old State House. The venerable structure will be explored in “The People’s House” programs on Nov. 4 and 11, 2014. Photo by Don Pearse Photographers.

House of Representatives chamber in Dover, Del.’s Old State House. The venerable structure will be explored in “The People’s House” programs on Nov. 4 and 11, 2014. Photo by Don Pearse Photographers.

In honor of Election Day, The Old State House, located at 25 The Green in Dover, will present “The People’s House,” guided tours that explore the significance of The Old State House and the many state and county governmental functions that were conducted there between 1791 and 1933. Tours will take place between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Nov. 4 and 11.

On Saturday, Nov. 15, the John Dickinson Plantation, located at 340 Kitts Hummock Road in Dover, will present two candle-making workshops. In partnership with the St. Jones Reserve, the plantation will present a bayberry-candle workshop from 10 a.m. to noon. Reservations for this workshop are required by calling the St. Jones Reserve at 302-739-3436. Between 1 and 3 p.m., the plantation will present “Light Me Up!,” a workshop on candle dipping and discussion of lighting devices of the 18th century. Reservations for this program are required by calling 302-739-3277 no later than Nov. 14.

Hand-dipped candles at the John Dickinson Plantation. The plantation will offer candle-making workshops on Nov. 15, 2014.

Hand-dipped candles at the John Dickinson Plantation. The plantation will offer candle-making workshops on Nov. 15, 2014.

Finally, on Saturday, Nov. 15 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the Zwaanendael Museum, located at 102 Kings Highway in Lewes, will present Dutch-American Heritage Day, a series of activities exploring the contributions that the Netherlands has made to the economic, social, political and cultural life of Delaware and the United States. At 2 p.m., the museum will present a lecture by Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs archaeologist Craig Lukezic exploring Dutch colonial activities in Delaware.

“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 the Dutch-American Heritage Day program at the Zwaanendael Museum on Nov. 15, 2014.

“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 the Dutch-American Heritage Day program at the Zwaanendael Museum on Nov. 15, 2014.

Administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the six museums of the State of Delaware—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—tell the story of the First State’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, November 2014
Note: Recent program changes are highlighted in brown.

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.

Nipper, the dog in the Victor Talking Machine Company logo, will be featured in the “Man’s Best Friend” program at the Johnson Victrola Museum on Nov. 1, 2014.

Nipper, the dog in the Victor Talking Machine Company logo, will be featured in the “Man’s Best Friend” program at the Johnson Victrola Museum on Nov. 1, 2014.

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.

Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014, and 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.

Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014
“Swing.” In celebration of Election Day, guests will be treated to the sounds of Swing music as recorded by Victor Records on 78-rpm disks and 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 honor 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.

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 will examine 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 Netherlands has 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.

Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014
“Two Civil War Soldiers.”
Historical play about two Confederate soldiers captured at the battle of Gettysburg and subsequently imprisoned at Fort Delaware. Presented by the New Castle Court House Museum and staged at the Arsenal, 30 Market St., New Castle. 7 p.m. Free admission but reservations required by calling 302-323-4453. Recently added program.

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.

Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014
“Two Civil War Soldiers.” Historical play about two Confederate soldiers captured at the battle of Gettysburg and subsequently imprisoned at Fort Delaware. Presented by the New Castle Court House Museum and staged at the Arsenal, 30 Market St., New Castle. 2 p.m. Free admission but reservations required by calling 302-323-4453. Recently added program.


Millsboro’s Burton-Blackstone-Carey Store added to the National Register of Historic Places

September 29th, 2014 by Jim Yurasek

On Sept. 19, 2014, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs received notification from the National Park Service that the Burton-Blackstone-Carey Store in Millsboro has been officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the United States government’s official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects deemed worthy of preservation.

Burton-Blackstone-Carey Store in 2012.

Burton-Blackstone-Carey Store in 2012.

Located at 103 S. State St., the two-story, rectangular frame-structure, built circa 1840 in the vernacular Greek-Revival style, is Millsboro’s oldest–known commercial building with intact historic fabric. Over its 170-year history, it has housed a wide variety of businesses including a dry-goods store, a drug store, a finance company and a paint store. It currently serves as a custom frame-shop operated by Beatrice Carey.

The structure features an unusual hooded corner-entrance, original rectangular-bay display windows with decorative lambs-tongue and chamfered wooden trim on the cross pieces of the shop windows and original two-light double-door entrance with paneled bases and a molded header surmounted by a two-light transom. Other noteworthy architectural features include its original clapboards located beneath the recently added metal sheathing, a 19th century board-and-batten door with iron strap hinges, wide pine floor-boards located on the second floor and original mortise-and-tenon roof rafters.

During the mid-1800s, the building was owned by Benjamin Burton, the town’s wealthiest resident and the largest-known slave owner in Delaware. Burton is noted for accompanying Delaware Congressman George Fisher to Washington, D.C. in 1861 for a meeting with President Abraham Lincoln in which they discussed plans for the compensated emancipation of the state’s slaves.

Burton-Blackstone-Carey Store, circa 1900.

Burton-Blackstone-Carey Store, circa 1900.

Originally situated at the corner of State and Main streets, the Burton-Blackstone-Carey Store was moved approximately 50 feet down State Street in 1918 to accommodate the construction of a masonry bank for the Delaware Trust Company. The repositioned building, owned by Maud and Earnest Blackstone, served as Millsboro’s local drug store for decades. Between 1918 and 1929, the Blackstones added a one-story lean-to addition and established an ice cream parlor in the back room. Ernest Blackstone later entered public service and was sworn in as Delaware’s state treasurer on Dec. 26, 1936.

 

Oliver Berliner, grandson of the inventor of the phonograph, to speak at the Johnson Victrola Museum

September 29th, 2014 by Jim Yurasek

Visitors will have a unique opportunity to learn about the volatile, behind-the-scenes events that culminated in the creation of the recorded-music industry during the program “Pioneers in the Music Industry: Emile Berliner” that will take place at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014 at the Johnson Victrola Museum, located at 375 S. New St. in Dover, Del. Admission is free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-744-5055.

Oliver Berliner upon accepting his grandfather’s 2nd Grammy Award, January 2014. Photo courtesy NARAS. Berliner will speak at the Johnson Victrola Museum on Oct. 4, 2014.

Oliver Berliner upon accepting his grandfather’s 2nd Grammy Award, January 2014. Photo courtesy NARAS. Berliner will speak at the Johnson Victrola Museum on Oct. 4, 2014.

Oliver Berliner, Emile Berliner’s only descendent who has worked in the music business, will make a rare appearance as guest speaker for the program which honors his grandfather, inventor of the microphone and the disc-record player, which he named the gramophone, but which Americans call the phonograph. Emile Berliner is the recipient of two Grammy Awards: a Trustees Award in 1987 and a Technical Award in 2014.

Emile Berliner

Emile Berliner

Like his grandfather, Oliver’s interests are in both engineering and artistic endeavors. He holds two patents; has created broadcast products that were mass-produced by Panasonic, Electrohome, Leader Instruments and Hitachi; has authored two books; and has published over 200 articles on music, audio and video.

He is also a leading publisher of Cuban music, controlling among other hits, the world’s two most famous “chachachas” which have appeared in countless television shows, movies, radio and television commercials. During his Johnson Victrola Museum talk, Berliner will reveal music business secrets for which even historians and scholars are unaware.

Early version of a Berliner flat-disk, sound-reproduction machine.

Early version of a Berliner flat-disk, sound-reproduction machine.

 


History was made here: Cooch-Dayett Mills

September 25th, 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.

Photo of Cooch-Dayett Mills, circa 1910.

Photo of Cooch-Dayett Mills, circa 1910.

On Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., the Delaware Nature Society will host a one-day-only open house at Cooch-Dayett Mills, a historic water-powered grist mill located at 904 Old Baltimore Pike in Newark, Del. The program will feature the public unveiling of a six-foot, multilevel, operational model of the mill, as well as tours of the facility’s main floor where visitors can view the actual machinery that processed corn and wheat from nearby farms into cornmeal and flour. Outdoor tours of the property will provide information on how water from the Christina River was used to power the mill. Admission for all activities is free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-239-2334.

Flour-bagging machinery inside Cooch-Dayett Mills.

Flour-bagging machinery inside Cooch-Dayett Mills.

Built in the 1830s by William Cooch, the facility operated as a commercial grist mill until the early 1990s. It was acquired by the state of Delaware in 1996 and is administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs which, in turn, leases it to the Delaware Nature Society for the provision of educational programs. For additional information on the mill, go to the following blog by the Delaware Nature Society: Cooch-Dayett Mills: Discovering Delaware History Through Partnerships.

In addition to its partnership with the Delaware Nature Society, the division leases a barn on the Cooch-Dayett Mills property to the Pencader Heritage Area Association for use as a museum that spotlights the history of the Pencader Hundred area of northern New Castle County, Del. Museum exhibits include pictures and memorabilia of the Cooch family, artifacts and information regarding the history of Cooch-Dayett Mills, Native American artifacts and information on Revolutionary War activities in the area including the Battle of Cooch’s Bridge. In recent years, the association has added several flagpoles and educational signs on the Cooch-Dayett Mills grounds which help to tell the story of this important location in Delaware history.

pencader Heritage Museum

Pencader Heritage Museum

Educational signs at the Pencader Heritage Museum help to tell the history of the Cooch’s Bridge Historic District.

Educational signs at the Pencader Heritage Museum help to tell the history of the Cooch’s Bridge Historic District.

About the Cooch’s Bridge Historic District …

Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, the Cooch’s Bridge Historic District is a complex of historic structures and sites around Cooch’s Bridge which is located on Old Baltimore Pike just west of Route 72, in Newark, Del. The district includes houses, mills, dams and sites associated with more than two and a half centuries of industrial development including the location of one of the earliest iron furnaces in America, as well as the site of the Battle of Cooch’s Bridge (1777), the only battle of the American Revolutionary War fought on Delaware soil. The division maintains a monument to the battle along Old Baltimore Pike just west of the present-day Cooch’s Bridge. In 1781, American and French armies, under generals Washington and Rochambeau, passed through what is now the district on their way to Virginia where they were engaged in the Battle of Yorktown, the decisive battle of the American Revolution. The 680-mile trip from Rhode Island to Virginia is commemorated in the Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail.

Cooch's Bridge battle monument

Cooch’s Bridge battle monument

For additional information on the Cooch’s Bridge Historic District, go to its nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.

For additional information on iron mining and smelting in the Cooch’s Bridge area, go to the Iron Hill Museum website.

 

 

“Stealing Freedom Along the Mason Dixon Line: The Story of Elkton Slave Catcher and Kidnapper Thomas McCreary”

September 23rd, 2014 by Jim Yurasek

On Monday, Oct. 27, 2014 at 6:30 p.m., the Underground Railroad Coalition of Delaware will present “Stealing Freedom Along the Mason Dixon Line: The Story of Elkton Slave Catcher and Kidnapper Thomas McCreary,” a lecture by historian and author Milt Diggins. The lecture, which will take place at the Hockessin Friends Meetinghouse located at 1501 Old Wilmington Road in Hockessin, Del., is one of four program-meetings that the coalition presents annually throughout the state. Admission is free and open to the public. For additional information about the program, call Debra Martin of the coalition at 302-576-3107.

Milt Diggins

Milt Diggins

Retired educator Milt Diggins has served as a member of the board of trustees of the Historical Society of Cecil County and as editor of that organization’s publication, the Cecil Historical Journal. He is the author of the book “Images of America: Cecil County.”

About Thomas McCreary …
Thomas McCreary’s notoriety as a slave hunter surfaced in 1849 and peaked a few years after the enactment of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. His most famous kidnappings occurred in Chester County, Md. in December 1851. McCreary’s story illustrates the controversies over slave catching, kidnapping and the underlying slavery debate prior to the Civil War. Proslavery advocates viewed McCreary as a courageous upholder of property rights who refused to get bogged down in states that interfered with recovering defiant property. Maryland politicians esteemed and protected McCreary as a slave catcher, a paladin acting on behalf of respectable slaveholders, but Pennsylvania authorities and citizens denounced him as a villain. Some citizens in the slave states of Maryland and Delaware agreed. They saw him an as an opportunist void of compassion, a slave catcher and a kidnapper unconcerned with the difference between the two activities. Abolitionist Thomas Garrett and the editors of the Blue Hen’s Chicken newspaper spoke out against his activities and his involvement with kidnappings in Delaware. These Delaware connections will be highlighted in Diggins’ Oct. 27 presentation.

Established in 2002, the Underground Railroad Coalition of Delaware is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization comprised of private and government organizations and individuals dedicated to sharing the profound stories of the people who escaped from slavery and those in Delaware who assisted them in seeking freedom. To this end, the group provides a forum for gathering and encouraging research; linking local, regional and national resources; and sharing information with the public. The coalition also promotes the preservation of Underground Railroad sites in the state so that future generations may experience the power of these genuine historic places. Staff members of the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs serve as members of the coalition.