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  Archived Posts From: 2013

New Strategic Plan Presented to Division Staff at End-of-the-year Success Event

Written on: December 20th, 2013 in News

During an end-of-the-year success event for Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs staff, volunteers and partners that was held on Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, division director Tim Slavin and members of the strategic-planning committee gave an overview of the division’s new strategic plan for fiscal years 2015 to 2019. The plan will be released to the public in January 2014.

Presentation of the strategic plan to members of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ staff.

Presentation of the strategic plan to members of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ staff.

During the presentation, committee members discussed the five new goals that were developed during the planning process—improving access, innovative learning, engaging audiences, enhancing preservation and achieving excellence. At the conclusion of the presentation, division staff members were invited to sign a Pledge of Excellence that stated:

“The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs pledges that, in fulfillment of our educational mission, we will strive to operate according to national standards and best practices to the best of our abilities and in accordance with our resources.”

Historic-site interpreter Melissa Fitzgerald signing the Pledge of Excellence.

Historic-site interpreter Melissa Fitzgerald signing the Pledge of Excellence.

After the strategic plan overview, Slavin and Delaware Secretary of State Jeffrey W. Bullock presented service awards to staff and volunteers; and recognized division partners, friends and new staff members and volunteers who had joined the division in the past year.

Staff service-awards were presented to Susan Emory for 30+ years of service; Kay Powell for 25+ years; Jeanne DeLacy, Dottie Harper and Lynn Riley for 20+ years; Carol Cutbill, Jackie Collins and Bridget Warner for 15+years; Joan Foster, Craig Lukezic, Eleanor Matthews, Chris Merrill, Thomas Pulmano, Sarah Shorey and Robert Vander Decker for 10+ years; and Richard Bazelow, Barbara Carrow, Jennifer Dunham, Dennis Fisher, Gavin Malone, Sharyn Murray, Alan Roth, Martha Wagner and Thomas Welch for 5+ years.

Volunteer service-awards were presented to David Brown, Howard Fulcher and Arnold Leftwich for 400+ hours of service; James Schilling and Charolenne Shehorn for 300+ hours; and David Perlmutter for 200+ hours.

Division partners and friends who were recognized were Deloris Hayes Arrington of the Delaware Department of State; Danielle Campagnini and Sarah Zimmerman of the First State Heritage Park; Joe Caputo and Curt Stickel, former historic-site interpreters for the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs; Dennis Groom of the Office of Management and Budget; Dave Matsen of the Middletown Historical Society; Russ Smith of the First State National Monument and Phil Proud who farms the agricultural lands at Buena Vista.

New employees who were recognized were Ryan Cardwell, Jody Dengler, Anthony Doughten, Melissa Fitzgerald, Kevin Garner, Courtney Lynahan, Eleanor Siyon, Larry Williams and Stacye Williamson. New volunteers who were recognized were Joanne Anzalone, Joyce Bordley, Gilda Bynum, Roshonna Cannon, Jennifer Child, Rachel Despins, Pat Dura, Mike Emmons, Tara Finney, Keisha Gonzalez, Brian Hankin, Laura Herbin, Ese Jessa, Janet Lockyer, Betsy Martino, Catherine Maye, Krystal McGinnis, Candice Myruski, Meyartha Perry, Shawn Sheppard and Larry Watkins.

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Division Director Tim Slavin Credentialed As a Leed Green Associate by the U. S. Green Building Council

Written on: December 18th, 2013 in NewsPreservation

Timothy A. Slavin, director of the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs and state historic preservation officer, has recently been credentialed as a LEED Green Associate by the U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit organization committed to a prosperous and sustainable future through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings.

Timothy A. Slavin

Timothy A. Slavin

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), is a certification program that provides guidance in the design, construction, operations and maintenance of green buildings, homes and communities across the world. A LEED Green Associate must demonstrate a thorough understanding of green-building principles and practices, including the selection of sustainable sites, achieving greater water efficiency, addressing energy and atmosphere issues, using renewable materials and resources and maintaining indoor environmental quality. According to the US Green Building Council, Slavin is now one of 42 LEED professionals in Delaware.

LEED Green Associate logo

Slavin has served as division director and state historic preservation officer since 2005. His responsibilities include, among others, the maintenance and management of six museums and more than 40 state-owned historic properties across Delaware.


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12th Annual Delaware Day Competition Winners Announced

Written on: December 17th, 2013 in EducationNews

In a recognition ceremony held at the Delaware Public Archives building in Dover on Dec. 7, 2013, Chief Deputy Secretary of State Rick Geisenberger presented awards celebrating the work of 1,164 students from 22 schools across the state who took part in the 2013 Delaware Day Fourth Grade Competition. Over the past 12 years, more than 9,000 students have participated in the program. Delaware Day commemorates the anniversary of Delaware becoming the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution on Dec. 7, 1787.

Examples of Student Responses to Questions from the 12th Annual Delaware Day Fourth Grade Competition.

Examples of student responses to questions from the 12th Annual Delaware Day Fourth Grade Competition.

Sponsored annually by Delaware’s secretary of state, the competition encourages students to study the Constitution and to discover Delaware’s role in its writing and ratification. The students’ observations are presented in a four-panel display format that incorporates prose, poetry, artwork, songs and political cartoons. Each display is reviewed for factual accuracy, spelling and creativity.

The theme for the 2013 competition was the ratification process as outlined in Article VII as well as a commemoration of the 225th anniversary of the nation’s adoption of the Constitution. That event occurred on June 21, 1788 when New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the document thereby providing the two-thirds majority of the states needed to establish the Constitution as the law of the land.

Each of the competition’s winning schools was recognized with a Signer’s Award named for one of Delaware’s five signatories of the U.S. Constitution. The Signer’s Awards for the 2013 competition are the George Read Award (tie) to the William C. Lewis Elementary School and Jill Szymanski’s class at Brandywine Springs Elementary School; the Gunning Bedford, Jr. Award (tie) to Brader and Gallaher elementary schools; the Jacob Broom Award to the Learning Express Academy; the John Dickinson Award to Booker T. Washington Elementary School and the Richard Bassett Award to Blades Elementary School.

Honorable-mention awards were presented to Brandywine Springs, Bunker Hill, East Dover, Jennie Smith, Leasure, Lord Baltimore, Mount Pleasant, North Dover, North Star, Oberle, Sunnyside and Wilson elementary schools; Caravel Academy; Christ the Teacher Catholic School; St. Edmond’s Academy and St. John’s Lutheran School.

The 2013 Delaware Day Student Competition was planned and organized by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ Curator of Education Madeline Dunn in tandem with Tammy Stock, chief community relations coordinator, and Desiree Williams, administrative specialist, for the Department of State. Division-staff participation in the competition included service as judges of the student-developed projects, development of awards certificates and printed materials, set-up of the awards-program location and staffing at the event.

Go to the following for a Flickr photo set about the 12th Annual Delaware Day Fourth Grade Competition Awards Ceremony. Go to the following for information about Delaware’s signers of the U.S. Constitution and a Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings associated with the signers.


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$1 Million in Grants to Be Available for Delaware Historic Properties Damaged by Hurricane Sandy

Written on: December 12th, 2013 in NewsPreservation

On Dec. 4, 2013, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs received notification from the National Park Service that the state had been awarded $1 million in federal funds to be re-granted to Delaware historic properties that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy. The grant-application process will be administered by the division’s State Historic Preservation Office.

Hurricane Sandy satellite image

Satellite image of Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the East Coast of the United States.

Guidelines and application forms for Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Grants for Historic Properties will be posted on this website in early 2014 after program details are finalized with the National Park Service. Until that time, call the division office at 302-736-7400 for more information.

To be eligible for funding, a storm-damaged property must be: listed, or eligible for listing, in the National Register of Historic Places; owned by private individuals or organizations (excepting religious entities), local governments or the state; and have documented damage that resulted from the effects of the storm. Repair work funded by the grants must also be consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and in compliance with a number of other state and federal regulations. Already-completed projects may be eligible for funding if they meet applicable regulations.

Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Grants for Historic Properties are funded under the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013, a $50.7 billion package of disaster assistance largely focused on responding to the effects of the destructive storm that struck the East Coast of the United States in late October 2012. Hurricane Sandy prompted major disaster declarations in the District of Columbia and 12 states, including Delaware. As part of the act, Congress appropriated $50 million to cover the costs of preserving and/or rehabilitating historic properties damaged by the storm.

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Delaware’s Indian River Life-saving Station

Written on: December 4th, 2013 in EducationHistoric SitesMuseums

By: Katie Goerger, Historical Interpreter
Indian River Life-Saving Station
Delaware Seashore State Park

The Indian River Life-Saving Station is one of Delmarva’s relatively unknown gems. Situated along the coastline of southern Delaware between the Rehoboth Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, many recognize it as the hub for programs and events at Delaware Seashore State Park. This oddly-colored building, however, preserves a unique history that has slowly been forgotten over the years.

Irlss Station


In the mid to late 19th century, devastating shipwrecks along American coastlines were an all too common occurrence. Shoals hidden just beneath the water’s surface caused vessels to run aground, losing cargo to the waves and drowning mariners within sight of dry land. By 1871, in response to public outcry, the government finally intervened.

Historic Pic- Origin Unkown

Over the next few years, the first United States Life-Saving stations were built and manned by full-time crews known as “surfmen”. The men who joined the service left their comfortable lives at home to join a life where they would train by day and patrol the beaches by night, performing daring rescues in overwhelming conditions. The service was a complete success, lasting for 44 years until President Woodrow Wilson merged it with the Revenue Cutter Service to form the Coast Guard in 1915.

Keeper's Bedroom

Built in in 1876, the Indian River Life-Saving Station protected mariners along the coastlines from as far south as Bethany Beach and as far north as Cape Henlopen. In total, the crew of this station responded to over 60 wrecks and saved the lives of 419 people.

Courtesy: Dick Albertson

Courtesy: Dick Albertson

Today, the Indian River Life-Saving Station is located along Route 1 just north of the Indian River Bridge and operates as the main public center for Delaware Seashore State Park. The museum itself is setup to resemble its 1905 appearance and is open to both public and private tours year-round.


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History Was Made Here: Belmont Hall

Written on: November 25th, 2013 in EventsHistoric SitesNews

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.

One of Delaware’s most historic homes will be decorated for the winter season and open for visitation during the “Fourth Annual Christmas at Belmont Hall: A Civil War Christmas” that will take place on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, from 1 to 4 p.m., at Belmont Hall, located at 713 Smyrna-Leipsic Road in Smyrna, Del.

Belmont Hall

Belmont Hall

The day’s program will include an American Civil War military encampment featuring living-history re-enactors from the 2nd Delaware Volunteer Infantry as they tend a fire and portray camp life as it might have occurred during the Christmas seasons of 1861-1865. Additional activities include horse-drawn sleigh rides, presentations on civilian life during the Civil War, period music, a visit from Santa and craft-making activities for children. Admission to the program is $5 for adults and $2 for children. For additional information, call 302-264-9048. Note—Visitors to Belmont Hall can also take in the Christmas Open House at the Smyrna Museum that will be taking place on Dec. 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. In addition, Belmont Hall will be open for free tours on Sunday, Dec. 15 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Members of the Second Delaware Volunteer Infantry in camp.

Members of the Second Delaware Volunteer Infantry in camp.

About Belmont Hall…

In 1684, William Penn granted the 600-acre parcel of land on which Belmont Hall is located to Henry Pearman. After six changes of ownership, 91½ acres of the property were sold in 1771 to Thomas Collins who would go on to serve as a member of the Delaware General Assembly, brigadier-general in the American Revolution and eighth president of Delaware. In 1773, Collins completed construction of the grand Georgian structure which he named Belmont Hall. From that time until the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, the home was the scene of many meetings attended by noted patriots Caesar Rodney, Allen McLane, Col. John Haslett, Lt. Col. Charles Pope, John Dickinson, Thomas McKean and Judge Richard Bassett.

Belmont Hall interior decorated for the holidays.

Belmont Hall interior decorated for the holidays.

In 1867, Belmont Hall was inherited by Caroline Cloak Peterson. After the death of Howard Peterson in 1875, she married Gideon Speakman in 1876. Caroline made a number of changes to the property including the addition of a Gothic-Revival porch and the development of 20 acres of gardens including two boxwood formations at the front and rear of the house. She encouraged the Smyrna townspeople to use the property’s gardens for walks, ice cream socials and picnics. After a devastating fire in 1922, her son Cummins Speakman and his wife Marjorie restored the home to its original condition and floor plan, and members of the Speakman family continued to live there until 1987 when the property was acquired by the state of Delaware as part of the Route 1 construction project. Administration of Belmont Hall was transferred to the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs later that year and it was opened for use as a state conference center in 1993.

Belmont Hall boxwood garden.

Belmont Hall boxwood garden.

In 2010, the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs entered into a partnership with the non-profit Friends of Belmont Hall to further preserve the house and property. In keeping with its stewardship responsibilities, the division utilized over $67,000 from its 2012 capital improvements allocation for wood repair, lead-paint stabilization and painting of the building’s exterior as well as installation of a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system that will keep the property operating efficiently well into the 21st century. The Friends of Belmont Hall now sponsors several community events that provide public access to the site throughout the year, as well as renting the house and grounds for meetings, weddings and parties.

Historical photo of Belmont Hall.

Historical photo of Belmont Hall.

Go to the following for additional information on the history of Belmont Hall.

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Larry Williams Joins Division Staff As Physical-plant Maintenance Mechanic

Written on: November 25th, 2013 in News

On Nov. 4, 2013, Larry Williams joined the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ staff as a physical-plant maintenance mechanic working with the Preservation-Maintenance Team, a group of trades professionals who maintain, repair and preserve the nearly 90 structures administered by the division.

Larry Williams

Larry Williams

An all-around tradesman and troubleshooter, Williams served a three-year apprenticeship in carpentry early in his career and has worked for Christiana Construction, the Pennsylvania Shipyard and a 20-year stint at the Sunoco oil refinery in Marcus Hook, Pa. A native of north Wilmington and graduate of Mount Pleasant High School, Williams comes from a long line of carpenters and craftspeople. He and his wife now live in a Newark, Del. house that he planned and designed and for which he completed the lion’s share of construction.

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Debraak Tours Attendance Increased by 38% in 2013; New Tours Scheduled for 2014

Written on: November 22nd, 2013 in EventsMuseumsNews

A total of 314 visitors attended the Lewes, Del. based lecture/tours of the hull of His Majesty’s Sloop DeBraak during 2013, an increase of 38% over the previous year. As a result of this continued interest, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will again offer tours of the historic vessel’s hull during the upcoming season that will run from late spring to early fall 2014.

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

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

The DeBraak was 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 surviving section of the ship’s hull and its associated artifact collection have been curated by the division since they were acquired by the state of Delaware in 1992. Go to the following to learn more about the historical significance of the DeBraak.

Viewing area inside the DeBraak hull facility. The surviving section of the ship’s hull can be seen in the left of the photo.

Viewing area inside the DeBraak hull facility. The surviving section of the ship’s hull can be seen in the left of the photo.

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

Details for the 2014 season of tours including dates, times and prices will be announced via this blog in the near future. For additional information, call 302-645-1148.

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First State Heritage Park 18th Century Market Fair Photo Contest

Written on: October 29th, 2013 in EventsHistoric SitesMultimediaMuseumsNews

Participate in First State Heritage Park’s

18th Century Market Fair Flickr Photo Contest

in Eight Easy Steps:


First State Heritage Park Market Fair Photo Contest Flyer



Experience history and capture some memories at the First State Heritage Park 18th Century Market Fair on November 2, 2013!

Fshp Market Fair Wrapper 2013_outside



Join the Photo Contest group on Flickr.

State of Delaware, Division of Historical & Cultural Affairs

 * Make sure you scroll down and “Agree” to the contest rules to advance to the group page:

State of Delaware, Division of Historical & Cultural Affairs



Upload your memories.

State of Delaware, Division of Historical & Cultural Affairs



Tag your photos with FSHPMarketFair – photos are not eligible for the contest unless they are tagged properly!

State of Delaware, Division of Historical & Cultural Affairs



In the photo description space, please include a title for the image and any description you may provide, including a few words to complete any of the prompts below.

“Visiting the FSHP 18th Century Market Fair, “I learned…,” “I enjoyed…,” or “I met…”


State of Delaware, Division of Historical & Cultural Affairs



Add to the group.




Upload the photos to your Photostream.


* The upload confirmation window should look like this, indicating that your photos are (1) public, (2) tagged, and (3) grouped:




Watch, share, and vote between now and November 30th for your chance to win a 2014 Delaware State Parks Pass!

State of Delaware, Division of Historical & Cultural Affairs

Another blog post will follow with instructions and tips for voting, but the more people that you can get to favorite your photo the better your chances at winning!

Happy Market Fairing! Share your experiences here!


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Division Welcomes Five New Historic-site Interpreters

Written on: October 28th, 2013 in MuseumsNews

During the past six weeks, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs has welcomed five new members to its museums staff. All of these employees serve as historic-site interpreters, the division’s front-line connection with the public. Through tours and special programming, historic-site interpreters add a human face to Delaware history by providing in-depth information about the state’s historic places, and by bringing the people and events of the past to life.

Following are profiles of these newest members of the division’s team:

Rehoboth Beach resident Jody Dengler joined the Zwaanendael Museum staff after a varied career that included work as an educator at the Florida Poison Center, and which continues at Wilmington University where she serves as an adjunct instructor in film appreciation. Hailing from a family of history buffs, Dengler grew up in Collegeville, Pa. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Mount Olive College in North Carolina.

Jody Dengler

Jody Dengler

Melissa Fitzgerald brings an artistic perspective to her work at the John Dickinson Plantation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in painting (with a minor in history) from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a Master of Fine Arts in illustration from the Savanna College of Art and Design. Fitzgerald’s other love—history—has led to work at the Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation’s cultural resources section, and as a historical interpreter at both Fort Delaware State Park and at the Heyward House Historic Center in Bluffton, S.C. Originally from Camden, Del., she currently lives in Odessa, Del.

Melissa Fitzgerald

Melissa Fitzgerald

Four years ago, Courtney Lynahan served as a historical interpreter for the First State Heritage Park during a stint as an AmeriCorps volunteer. After working in a variety of occupations, she is happy to return to the field of history as a historic-site interpreter at the division’s downtown Dover museums. Lynahan holds a bachelor’s degree in history and political science and a master’s degree in urban affairs and public policy with a specialization in historic preservation, both from the University of Delaware. The West Chester, Pa. native has worked as an intern with the cultural-resource services firm John Milner Associates, as a graduate assistant at the University of Delaware’s Center for Historic Architecture and Design, and as a volunteer at Fort Delaware. She currently lives in old New Castle.

Courtney Lynahan

Courtney Lynahan

The circle remains unbroken for Dover resident Eleanor Siyon who developed school programs for the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs in the 1970s. Originally from Bridgeville, Del., Siyon holds a bachelor’s degree in English education from Delaware State University and is nearing completion of her master’s degree in early childhood education from Capella University. Her current work for the division’s museums focuses on developing new and innovative programming including educational tours focusing on the Underground Railroad. Siyon’s distinguished career includes service as an English teacher and as a contractor developing an alternative-education program for the Delaware Department of Education. She is the author of two children’s books as well as the historical play “Courage in Black and White: The Untold Stories” about the Underground Railroad in Delaware. Her new children’s play, “On Golden Wings,” is currently nearing completion.

Eleanor Siyon

Eleanor Siyon

Newport, Del. native Stacye Williamson brings a wide variety of skills and knowledge to her work for the division’s downtown Dover museums. Her past experience includes service as a seasonal gardener at Longwood Gardens and as a volunteer in the Mollusk Department of the Delaware Museum of Natural History. Williamson holds two bachelor’s degrees—one in general studies from Wilmington University and a second in anthropology from the University of Delaware. Her abiding interest in food-related history has led to studies in ethno-botany, beekeeping, nutrition and horticulture. She currently lives in Bear, Del.

Stacye Williamson

Stacye Williamson

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