Written on: April 28th, 2014 in News
During the past month, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs has welcomed four new members to its staff including a curator of collections management, a physical-plant maintenance supervisor and two physical-plant maintenance mechanics. Following are profiles of these newest members of the division family:
Curator of Collections Management Mari Carpenter’s responsibilities center on the research, cataloging, preservation and storage of the significant collection of historic materials owned by the state of Delaware including museum objects, archaeological artifacts, works of art and many others. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history and African-American studies from Indiana University, and a master’s degree in the same field from the University of Cincinnati. Carpenter’s extensive experience includes service in collections management at the National Civil Rights Museum, the Smithsonian Institution’s Traveling Exhibition Service, the Banneker-Douglass Museum, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and the Indiana Historical Society. A native of Indianapolis, Ind., she now lives in Dover where she is looking forward to working with the wide variety of objects in the state of Delaware’s collections spanning pre-history to the present day. In her free time, she is interested in visiting historic sites and learning about Delaware history, and pursuing her long-abiding love of jazz.
Preservation-maintenance professionals—there’s no job that can’t be done
With more than 120 years of combined experience in various trades, the members of the division’s Preservation-Maintenance Team can handle any challenge that comes their way in order to maintain, repair and preserve the nearly 90 structures administered by the division.
Physical-plant maintenance supervisor Ed Gillespie manages the work load for all of the preservation-maintenance team’s trades-people as well as coordinating services provided by contractors and vendors. The holder of a master’s license in heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration, he was recently promoted to the supervisory position after 10 years of service with the division as a physical-plant maintenance mechanic. Originally from Hagerstown, Md., Gillespie grew up in New Castle and later lived in north Wilmington for 25 years where he worked in residential maintenance-management. The son of a state-government trades professional, one of his first jobs was as a trades-helper in plumbing for the Delaware Department of State during the 1970s. Gillespie and his family now live in Clayton, Del.
Physical-plant maintenance mechanic Jeff Buttillo retired from the United States Air Force in 2011 after a 26-year career in which he served as a civil engineer and as a loadmaster for the C5 aircraft. Since then, he has worked in the maintenance departments for the Delaware Veterans Cemetery and the Department of Corrections before joining the division on April 7, 2014. Originally from Bethlehem, Pa., Buttillo and his family have lived in Dover since 1994. This year, he will be completing his studies in career and technical education at Wilmington University.
In May 2014, physical-plant maintenance mechanic James Scott will be receiving his journeyman’s certificate in heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration from the Polytech Adult Education program in Woodside, Del. A native of Dover, he has worked in apartment maintenance and landscaping in a variety of facilities in Delaware’s capital city capped off by an eight-year stint at Wesley College. Hailing from a long line of state government employees, Scott is excited about working for the division in helping to preserve the state’s historic properties. In his spare time, he coaches Pop Warner football in Camden, Del.
On April 9, 2014 the Delaware State Review Board for Historic Preservation held its annual spring meeting at The Old State House in Dover. As part of the meeting, the board heard presentations in support of two nominations for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
Viva Poore of the Harrington Historical Society summarized her research on St. Stephen’s Protestant Episcopal Church, a mission chapel built in 1876 that is owned by the Harrington Historical Society and houses exhibits chronicling the history of the town. Robin Krawitz, director of the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation at Delaware State University, prepared a nomination for the Union Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church Complex in Clarksville which features the best-known example of an African-American school built in 1890, as well as a historic cemetery and camp-meeting ground continuously used since the mid-1800s.
After the presentations, the board recommended that both nominations be presented for approval to Tim Slavin, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs director and State Historic Preservation Officer, and then forwarded to the National Park Service for official listing in the National Register.
Prior to the National Register presentations, retiring members of the board—Kevin Rychlicki (chair), Chad Nelson, state Senator Dori Conner and Peter Bon—were honored for their service; while four new members—Dr. David Ames, Tony DePrima, Michael McGrath and Carol Quigley—were welcomed to the board by vice chair Dr. Akwasi Osei.
Following are biographical sketches of the new board members:
Dr. David Ames is director of the Center for Historic Architecture and Design and professor of Public Policy and Administration, Geography and Material Culture Studies at the University of Delaware. Ames has published several books including the following in which he was co-author: “Evaluating America’s Historic Suburbs for the National Register of Historic Places” (2002) and “Design and Historic Preservation: The Challenge of Compatibility” (2009). He conducts research on a variety of topics including historic highways, protecting Delaware’s view sheds from negative visual intrusions, the Boston to Washington, D.C. transportation corridor, the impact of development on heritage resources and heritage tourism.
Tony DePrima is a planner who currently serves as the executive director of the Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility, Inc. which the Delaware General Assembly established in 2007. This unique public-private partnership was established to determine ways of reducing energy consumption, lowering greenhouse-gas emissions and supporting distributed renewable-energy. Prior to his current position, DePrima served as the city manager for the city of Dover, Del. from 2001 to 2011 and as the city’s planning director from 1991 to 2001.
Michael McGrath is a native Delawarean who retired in 2011 after serving 28 years as chief of planning for the Delaware Department of Agriculture where he provided input into the development of land-use planning and agricultural development, managed the work of the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation and facilitated the preservation of open space for people and habitat for wildlife. McGrath is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and speaks extensively on farmland preservation and the use of geographic-information-systems in land-use planning and modeling. He continues to serve as a consulting agriculturalist and has a long and abiding interest in Delaware history.
Carol Quigley is a historic architect who currently serves as an architectural designer for Frens and Frens Restoration Architects headquartered in West Chester, Pa. She has worked on a wide variety of projects in Delaware including the restoration of the Read House in New Castle, preparation of a historic-structures report for Old Swedes Church in Wilmington, conducting historical investigations of Dover’s Eden Hill Farm and John Bell House, restoration of the foundation of the Peter Marsh Homestead for the Rehoboth Art League, and restoration projects undertaken at several Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs-administered properties including Buena Vista, the John Dickinson Mansion, the New Castle Court House and The Old State House.
On Saturday, May 17, 2014, from 1:30 to 4 p.m., the New Sweden Centre is sponsoring a celebratory event marking the 375th anniversary of the arrival of Anthony, a black man later known as Antoni Swart, who was among the first colonists of New Sweden which centered on Fort Christina in present-day Wilmington, Del.
The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place at Frederick D. Stubbs Elementary School located at 1100 N. Pine St. (E. 11th and Pine streets) in Wilmington, Del. The ceremony will spotlight the renaming of a local street in honor of Swart and will feature speakers representing the embassies of Angola, St. Kitts/Nevis and Sweden; as well as government officials from Wilmington, New Castle County and the state of Delaware. Activities will include a brief history of Swart presented by historian Abdullah R. Muhammad who often portrays the colonist in historical re-enactments; plus performances by both the choir and drum line from Wilmington’s Bayard Middle School, African drumming and dance, Swedish hymns and children’s games that were common in the 17th century.
Immediately after the event, a reception in honor of the visiting dignitaries and government officials will be held between 4 and 6 p.m. at the same location. The reception will provide an opportunity to meet and mingle with the honored guests while dining on a variety of international foods representative of the dignitaries’ home countries. A limited number of tickets for the reception are available at $35 per person by going to the following website.
New Sweden was established in 1638 when a Swedish expeditionary force sailing in the ships Kalmar Nyckel and Fogel Grip established a timber and earth fort along the Christina River on what is today’s Seventh Street Peninsula in Wilmington, Del. Named Fort Christina after the then 12-year-old queen of Sweden, it became the first Swedish settlement in America and the first permanent non-native settlement in Delaware. New Sweden eventually grew to encompass territory on both sides of the Delaware River from present-day Philadelphia to south of New Castle, Del. The colony was captured by the Dutch in 1655 who eventually lost it to the English.
Details of Anthony’s life are slim and sometimes contradictory. Historical documents reveal that he was a “Morian [Moor] or Angolan” who was brought to New Sweden in 1639 after the Fogel Grip had returned from a trip to the West Indies. His initial status as either a servant or a freeman is uncertain but sometime after his arrival, evidence suggests that he was a freeman known as Antoni Swart, an employee of Governor Johan Printz, who cut hay and sailed Printz’s sloop during the 1640s and 1650s. Swart’s name disappeared from the historical record after the 1654-55 listing of the colony’s officers, soldiers, servants and freemen.
When Cindy Small, executive director of Kent County Tourism, learned that Winterthur Museum would be mounting the exhibit “Costumes of Downton Abbey” during 2014, she realized that the time period depicted in the popular television show—1900 through the 1920s—was an era rich in American and Delaware history that could serve as the perfect organizing theme for the 81st Annual Dover Days Festival.
Produced by Kent County Tourism, the Dover Days Festival is an annual celebration of the First State’s capital city held on the first full weekend in May in Dover’s historic downtown district. This year’s festival will take place from May 2 to 4. Admission is free and open to the public.
Knowing that she was working within a highly compressed time frame, Small convened a group of Dover Days presenters in November 2013 to see if there was enough time for them to devise a unified series of programs on the history and fashion of the Downton-Abbey-era in America, and in particular, in Delaware. The group—which included representatives from the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the Biggs Museum of American Art, the Dover Century Club, the Dover Public Library and the First State Heritage Park—responded enthusiastically, working intensively and collaboratively over the next few months to develop nearly 20 separate programs under the theme, “Delaware Dresses Downton.”
In creating its programming, Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ exhibits professionals searched the extensive collections of the state of Delaware for authentic early-20th-century apparel, accessories, art and artifacts. Based on their findings, they developed two displays that will be featured at this year’s festival: “Dress for Success: The Edwardian Gentlemen’s Wardrobe and Accessories”; and “Simple Pleasures: Picnic, Play and Dance” which features fashions that reflect the spirit of the liberated “modern” woman. Likewise, the division’s three downtown Dover museums—The First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, The Old State House and the Johnson Victrola Museum—developed theme-specific programming on early jazz, Victor Talking Machines, the women’s suffrage movement in Delaware and prohibition.
In similar fashion, the other participating organizations developed their own thematic programming—the Biggs Museum created a history of costume and fashion tour and will be hosting the fashion program “The Way We Wore” and a historical interpreter portraying Negro League and baseball Hall of Famer William “Judy” Johnson; the Dover Century Club will be hosting the program “Close to the Vest and Under the Skirt Tour”; the Dover Public Library will be presenting a Downton Abbey book exhibit and a concert by the First State Harmonizers barbershop chorus; and the First State Heritage Park will be offering themed tours and rides in a 1910-era Stanley Steamer.
To crown the entire enterprise, Kent County Tourism and the Friends of Old Dover applied for, and were successful in receiving, a grant from the Delaware Humanities Forum to hire re-enactors from the American Historical Theatre in Philadelphia who will portray Americans from the Downton-Abbey-era including architect Frank Lloyd Wright; African-American millionaire Madam C.J. Walker; businessman John Wanamaker; and Peggy, maid of Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter Alice.
All told, this year’s Dover Days Festival is proving to be a model of collaboration between presenters, and a golden opportunity to satisfy people’s seemingly insatiable interest in a time period depicted so evocatively in the Downton Abbey television series and in Winterthur’s exhibit. It should prove to be a win-win for all involved.
Go to the following for a complete listing of 2014 Dover Days Festival activities.