The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs has recently received notification from the National Park Service that two additional Delaware properties—the Adams Home Farm in Greenwood and the Evans-West House in Ocean View—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 15293 Adams Road in Greenwood, the 211-acre Adams Home Farm possesses a unique concentration of agricultural resources which together symbolize the variety of farming practices associated with Northwest Fork Hundred and Sussex County from the 1850s to the 1950s. These cultural resources represent the evolution of agriculture from the planting of com and grain, to the production of vegetables and fruits, to truck farming, to the poultry industry and to the development of a feed and fertilizer business.
According to Ed Kee, Delaware’s current secretary of agriculture and an agricultural-history expert, the Adams Home Farm contains the best preserved collection of agricultural resources in the state including 13 buildings and structures that contribute to the historical significance of the property. Five of the structures have been in use since circa 1850 while several of the structures erected between 1900 and 1953 include rare 20th-century building types in Sussex County such as the clerestory-roofed chicken brooder-house, the one-story migrant-farm-workers’ housing and the metal water-tower with adjacent chemical shed.
Located at 40 West Ave. in Ocean View, the Evans-West House is a significant vernacular-interpretation of the Gothic Revival style of architecture. Minimally altered since its construction in 1901, the house and associated barn, storage shed and star-shaped daffodil garden, represent an early-20th-century domestic complex which is not duplicated in Ocean View or the surrounding area.
The interior of the home retains a high percentage of its original historic fabric including room configurations as well as an ornate front door with etched-glass, genre-scene panel; kitchen wainscoting; an early porcelain-kitchen-sink; random-width floor boards throughout the house; original two-over-two double-hung windows; reeded door and window surrounds with bulls-eye corner blocks; original hardware including porcelain and electroplated doorknobs; and turned front-porch columns.
The current owners of the Evans-West House, strong advocates of historic preservation, have given legal ownership of the property to the Ocean View Historical Society which plans to restore the barn, maintain and preserve the house and grounds, and utilize the property as a museum and exhibit facility in conjunction with the society’s historical complex which includes the nearby Tunnell-West House.
During an end-of-the-year success event on Dec. 14, 2015, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs tipped its collective hat in recognition of the staff, volunteers, partners and friends who helped make 2015 a noteworthy year for the agency.
As part of the event program, division director Tim Slavin shined a spotlight on several individuals and teams who had made significant contributions to the agency over the course of the year. To begin with, Slavin discussed the fire that struck Delaware’s Legislative Hall on Oct. 7, 2015, and the extraordinary efforts of state employees from a variety of agencies who helped recover nearly 200 historical objects and works of art that were on display in the building.
State employees who contributed to the recovery effort include Justin King of the Division of Facilities Management who removed paintings from the building’s walls during the fire; Dave Russel and Kevin Wright of the Department of Technology and Information who assisted in setting up Internet and telephone access at the temporary storage facility that was used to house the recovered items; and Ronald Johnson of Facilities Management, who, along with several staff and volunteers from the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, assisted in the temporary relocation of objects from Legislative Hall.
Slavin and Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer Gwen Davis also presented Certificates of Appreciation in Preservation for community members who helped save two historic sites in the state. In the first case, Josie Roy of New Castle County government was honored for inspiring a host of local partners to take action to preserve New Castle’s Mount Salem United Methodist Church. New Castle County Executive Thomas Gordon and Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Sam Guy spoke at the event in recognition of Roy.
In the second case, Frank Calio, Shawn Larrimore and Mayor John Shwed, all of Laurel, were honored for their efforts in developing a plan to preserve the 1921 Laurel High School building. The division’s National Register of Historic Places coordinator Madeline Dunn accepted the award on behalf of her fellow Laurel residents.
Slavin also took time to collectively recognize staff members who have joined the division during 2015 including Chris Conley, Betsy Gant, Patricia Gerken, Scott Hayes, Renee Huber, Carlos Maldonado, Gene Modzelewski, Paul Nasca, Charolenne Shehorn, Laurie Turkawski, Bridget Wallace and Nicole Worthley; while volunteer-service certificates, presented by Volunteer Services Coordinator Rachel Wootten, were awarded to Carolyn Apple for 233.25 volunteer hours, Kent Slavin (196 hours), Laura Herbin (106.75 hours), Juliann McNelia (104.25 hours), Jim Schilling (98.75 hours), David Perlmutter (57.25 hours) and Larry Watkins (35.5 hours).
In addition, Slavin presented staff service-awards to Beverly Laing for 25 years of service and Alice Guerrant for 35 years; congratulated CARE Team manager Edward McWilliams for earning the Management Development Certificate from the state of Delaware’s Office of Statewide Training and Organizational Development; commended the volunteers of the Johnson Victrola Museum who were recipients of a Governor’s Outstanding Volunteer Award; and bade farewell to departing staff members Amanda Goebel, Sally Shorey and Rachel Wootten.
Finally division staff honored their colleagues by presenting recognition awards to the following individuals and teams: Extra Mile Awards to Charity Luksha of the Preservation Maintenance Team, Thomas Pulmano of the Sites Management Team, Michael Cinque of the CARE Team and Volunteer Services Coordinator Rachel Wootten; Biggest Impact Awards to the division’s American Association of Museums accreditation team and the staff of the Zwaanendael Museum; and a Lifetime Achievement Award to Sally Shorey of the Buena Vista Conference Team. Shorey was not able to attend the ceremony.
In addition to recognition of the division’s staff, volunteers, partners and friends, the end of year event included a review of the agency’s accomplishments during 2015 including progress on obtaining accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums. On Nov. 17 and 18, 2015, reviewers from the alliance visited Delaware, touring the division’s museums and collections facilities, and meeting with staff members. Overall, the reviewers were pleased with the division and its programs, noting the agency’s “great work, amazing staff and terrific collection.”
Before concluding the day’s activities, attendees took the Marshmallow Challenge, a team-building exercise that provided valuable lessons in collaboration, innovation and creativity. In taking the challenge, participants were divided into several small groups and asked to build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string and one marshmallow—which needed to be on top. The tallest tower, at 33.5 inches, was created by a team comprised of division planner Lynn Riley; and Zwaanendael Museum personnel including staff members Amanda Goebel and Gene Modzelewski, and volunteer Betsy Mahon.
In a recognition ceremony held at the Delaware Public Archives building in Dover on Dec. 5, 2015, Delaware Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock presented awards celebrating the work of 1,200 participants from 21 schools across the state who took part in the 2015 Delaware Day Fourth Grade Competition. Over the past 14 years, more than 11,000 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. Six months later, on June 21, 1788, 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.
Sponsored annually by Delaware’s secretary of state, the Fourth Grade Competition encourages students to study the Constitution and to discover Delaware’s role in its writing and ratification. Students’ observations are presented in a four-panel display format that incorporates prose, artwork, songs and political cartoons. Each display is reviewed for factual accuracy, spelling and creativity.
Questions for this year’s competition required students to learn about the five individuals who represented Delaware at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia; and explore issues discussed by the delegates; review Article IV (how states are admitted to the Union), Article V (the amendment process), Article VII (the ratification process), the Bill of Rights (2015 is the 225th anniversary of Delaware’s ratification of the Bill of Rights on Jan. 28, 1790), and the petition process by which Delaware Day was established 82 years ago.
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 2015 competition are the George Read Award to the Gallaher Elementary School in Newark; the Gunning Bedford, Jr. Award to Bunker Hill Elementary School in Middletown; the Jacob Broom Award to the Learning Express Academy in Newark; the John Dickinson Award (tie) to Booker T. Washington and North Dover elementary schools, both in Dover; and the Richard Bassett Award to Frederick Douglass Elementary School in Seaford.
Honorable-mention awards were presented to Brader, Downes, Jones, Keene, Leasure, McVey, Mt. Pleasant, North Star, Oberle, Star Hill, Wilson and Sunnyside elementary schools; Calvary Christian Academy; and Christ the Teacher and Wilmington Friends schools.
Special Artistic Merit Awards, reviewed by the Delaware Division of the Arts with assistance from the Newark Arts Alliance, were also announced during the ceremony. Schools honored with this award were Bunker Hill, Frederick Douglass, Gallaher, North Dover and Star Hill elementary schools. Artistic Merit Honorable Mention awards were presented to Sunnyside Elementary and Wilmington Friends schools. As part of the Artistic Merit Awards process, financial assistance for up to $50 worth of art supplies was provided to participating schools through a Division of the Arts grant awarded to the Newark Arts Alliance.
The 2015 Delaware Day Student Competition was planned and organized by Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ historian and National Register coordinator Madeline Dunn in consultation with representatives of Delaware’s departments of State and Education. Participation by other Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs staff-members 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 photographs of displays created by participating schools.
The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be hosting 12 special events during the month of January 2016 at the museums of the state of Delaware. A full schedule is included below. All programs are free and open to the public.
Highlights of the month include “Fiber Arts Fridays,” a four-part series of programs taking place between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Jan. 8, 15, 22 and 29 at the John Dickinson Plantation, located at 340 Kitts Hummock Road in Dover. During each week of the series, visitors will have an opportunity to learn about a different fiber-arts discipline including weaving, spinning and knitting.
On Saturday, Jan. 2 at 1 p.m., The Old State House, located 25 The Green in Dover, will present “Tales Tombstones Tell,” in which storyteller Ed Okonowicz examines the rich history found on grave markers in Delaware. The day’s activities will also include guided tours of the display “Delaware Mourns Lincoln: A Demonstration of Love and Sorrow.”
Finally, on Saturday, Jan. 16 at 2 p.m., the Zwaanendael Museum, located at 102 Kings Highway in Lewes, will present “I Cannot Tell a Lie, It was Almost a Big Blue: Historic Preservation and Archaeology at Ferry Farm, George Washington’s Boyhood Home,” a lecture by Paul Nasca, Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ curator of archaeology, on Preservation Through Archaeology and the actions taken in Virginia that impacted the historic preservation of one of the nation’s iconic places. The program is presented as part of the division’s celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. Admission to the lecture is free but, due to space restrictions, reservations are required by calling 302-645-1148 no later than Jan. 15, 2016.
Special events at the museums of the state of Delaware, January 2016
Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016
“Music to Pray To; Music to Rejoice To.” Hear original 78rpm recordings of inspirational music 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. 302-739-3262.
Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016
“Tales Tombstones Tell.” Storyteller Ed Okonowicz examines the rich history found on grave markers in Delaware. The day’s activities will also include guided tours of the display “Delaware Mourns Lincoln: A Demonstration of Love and Sorrow.” First Saturday in the First State program. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Storytelling at 1 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5054.
Fridays, Jan. 8, 15, 22 and 29, 2016
“Fiber Arts Fridays.” Four-part series in which visitors will learn about a different fiber-art each week including weaving, spinning, knitting and other fabric arts. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 11–3 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Free admission. 302-739-3277.
Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016
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.–4:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.
Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016
“The Founding of America in One Year.” Lecture by historical interpreter Bob Vander Decker. Part one of a year-long series that examines important local and national events that led to the founding of the United States. New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle. 7 p.m. 302-323-4453.
Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016
“Preservation50—‘I Cannot Tell a Lie, It was Almost a Big Blue: Historic Preservation and Archaeology at Ferry Farm, George Washington’s Boyhood Home.’ ” Lecture by Paul Nasca, Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ curator of archaeology, on Preservation Through Archaeology and the actions taken in Virginia that impacted the historic preservation of one of the nation’s iconic places. Presented in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Program 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 Jan. 15, 2016.
Monday, Jan. 18, 2016
“Courage and Freedom.” In commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, guided tours will focus on three compelling stories of courageous Delawareans whose fight for freedom and equality began at the Old State House. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5054.
Monday, Jan. 18, 2016
“The Struggle.” In commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, guided tours focus on African-American vocalists and Civil Rights activists Paul Robeson and Marian Anderson, accompanied by 78rpm recordings of those artists played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-739-3262.
Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016
“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Historical Perspective.” Screening of the 2002 documentary film that explores King’s life and the development of his philosophies, set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement. New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle. 7 p.m. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations are recommended by calling 302-323-4453.
Go to the following for a comprehensive, long-term calendar of museum events.
The following article appeared in the Oct. 30, 2015 edition of NCSHPO News, an e-news publication of the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers.
For the past two years, the Delaware State Historic Preservation Office (part of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs) has focused staff and resources on a major redevelopment of its on-line mapping portal, the Cultural and Historical Resources Information System (CHRIS). Utilizing funds from the HPF Grant and from the Delaware Department of State, the Delaware SHPO hired GeoDecisions to upgrade the CHRIS to an easier, more flexible and cost-efficient system based on ESRI’s ArcGIS On-Line (AGOL).
The new CHRIS launched in February 2015, receiving many positive comments from users. Major benefits of the new system are the ability for consultants and agencies to map and submit survey forms online, the ability for in-house management and updating of data, improved management of user accounts to protect confidential information, a tool for creating public-oriented, thematic “story maps,” and the ability to deliver more extensive survey and National Register information.
This initiative includes ongoing efforts to digitize and upload survey data. In recent months, the Delaware SHPO joined several other state agencies participating in a new scanning program. Delaware Governor Jack Martel established a partnership with Specialisterne, a company that works with and secures employment for people on the autism spectrum, and Computer Aid, Inc. (CAI) which employs such workers with skills that are ideal for technology projects. Such skills include focused concentration, attention to detail, an ability to recognize patterns and deviations in data, and thinking outside the box. The CAI employees are scanning thousands of inventory forms and photographs for CHRIS. One of the new tools of the system will allow staff to upload the newly scanned files from CAI to the historic properties’ points in bulk, which will vastly cut down on the time needed to accomplish this task. The Delaware SHPO is well on its way to its goal of providing 24/7 access to comprehensive information on Delaware’s historic properties.
Written on: November 24th, 2015 in News
In a commencement ceremony held on Oct. 22, 2015, Edward McWilliams, manager of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ Collections, Affiliates, Research and Exhibits (CARE) Team, was awarded the Management Development Certificate from the state of Delaware’s Office of Statewide Training and Organizational Development.
The Management Development Certificate was developed in the fall of 2003. Since that time 72 state employees have enrolled in the program which offers supervisors and managers statewide a comprehensive and progressive series of developmental opportunities to continually improve their performance. McWilliams joins the ranks of a very elite group of only seven state employees to graduate from this challenging program.
During the course of his studies, which took place from 2013 to 2015, McWilliams was required to attend 13 required courses and four elective courses, prepare course-summary notes, complete a year-long project, prepare a written report and make a live presentation before program evaluators.
As his certificate project, McWilliams led an inter-organization partnership that created “Forging Faith, Building Freedom: African American Faith Experiences in Delaware, 1800–1980,” an exhibit that explored the state’s black community, its faith experiences and its contributions to the development of religion in the United States. On display from Sept. 27, 2013 to June 14, 2014 at the Delaware History Museum, a unit of the Delaware Historical Society in Wilmington, Del., the exhibit was created by the society’s curatorial staff, which researched and wrote the exhibit narrative and organized loans of exhibited objects; and the CARE team which designed, fabricated and installed the exhibit. In September 2014, the exhibit was the recipient of the American Association for State and Local History’s prestigious History in Progress Award.
During comments at the commencement ceremony, McWilliams discussed his experience in the certificate program and how it will guide him in service to Delaware’s people as a manager within state government. In an interview for this blog, McWilliams praised the program and its instructors, particularly his advisor Marianna Freilich who “demanded the highest standards but who also gave countless hours of encouragement. I would not have been able to complete this program without her support and friendship.”
A native of Wilmington, Del. who currently resides in Laurel, Del., McWilliams has been a Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs employee since 1996 when he began service as site supervisor of the John Dickinson Plantation. He served as curator of exhibits from 2001 until July 2011 when he was named manager of the newly formed CARE Team. In 2009, he was named the Delaware Department of State’s employee of the year. He holds a bachelor’s degree in art history from the University of Delaware and a master’s degree in arts management from the American University in Washington, D.C.
Written on: November 10th, 2015 in News
In a ceremony held on Nov. 2, 2015 in the courtroom of Dover, Del.’s Old State House, Gov. Jack Markell issued a pardon of Samuel D. Burris, a free black man from the Willow Grove area of Kent County, Del., who was convicted on Nov. 2, 1847 of aiding slaves escaping from their owners. The ceremony took place in the very location where Burris was convicted 168 years ago.
As a conductor on the Underground Railroad, Burris is known to have successfully led several enslaved people from Maryland and Delaware to relative freedom in Pennsylvania. In 1847, he was captured and charged in three cases with enticing away slaves. Found guilty in two of the cases, he was fined, sentenced to prison and thereafter sentenced to be sold into servitude. After being purchased for $500 by a Wilmington abolitionist, he was taken to Philadelphia where he was reunited with family and friends. He continued to work for the abolitionist cause until his death in San Francisco in 1863.
As part of his remarks, Markell noted, “This pardon is an extraordinary act in recognition of a historic wrong that cannot be corrected by a single stroke of a pen. … While we cannot change what was done more than 150 years ago, we can ensure that Mr. Burris’ legacy is appropriately recognized and celebrated. We affirm today that history will no longer record his actions as criminal, but rather as acts of freedom and bravery in the face of injustice.”
Other highlights of the ceremony included an invocation by the Rev. Ralph D. Smith, Sr., and a reading by Ocea Thomas from a March 29, 1848 letter that Burris wrote to a friend while he was imprisoned in the Dover jail that was located just a few steps from where the ceremony took place. Smith and Thomas are Burris-family descendants.
Quoting from Burris’ letter, which was published under the headline “Letter From Another Martyr in the Cause of Freedom” in the June 30, 1848 edition of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison’s newspaper, The Liberator, Thomas read “… for liberty is the word with me, and I would not consent to be President upon any terms that be mentioned, for I consider the lowest condition in life, with freedom attending it, is better than the most exalted station under the restraints of slavery.”
The ceremony also included the dedication of a new historical marker honoring Burris near the location of the abolitionist’s home at the intersection of Route 10 (Willow Grove Road) and Henry Cowgill Road southwest of Camden, Del. The site is located along the route of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway in Delaware.
Musical offerings at the pardon ceremony included performances by the Caesar Rodney High School VOX ONE vocal jazz ensemble and the Interdenominational Chorus of Dover. Government officials in attendance included state Sen. David G. Lawson and state Reps. William R. Outten and Lyndon Yearick, sponsors of the Burris historical marker; Secretary of State Jeffrey W. Bullock; Stephen Marz, director of the Delaware Public Archives which administers the historical marker program; and Tim Slavin, director of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, who served as master of ceremonies.
Division staff members who provided invaluable historical research on the life and accomplishments of Samuel D. Burris include Madeline Dunn who in the 1990s initiated the division’s research into Delaware’s African-American history and who subsequently developed interpretive programs on that history that are still offered at the division’s museums; Beverly Laing, who has been conducting research specifically on Burris since 1996; and Cindy Snyder and Gloria Henry, site supervisors respectively of the New Castle Court House Museum and the John Dickinson Plantation, who have been studying the history of African Americans at their sites. Finally, Robin Krawitz, formerly the division’s National Register of Historic Places coordinator and currently program director of Delaware State University’s Historic Preservation program, conducted extensive research on Burris during her tenure at the division. Krawitz is currently working on a book about Burris that will be published by the Delaware Heritage Commission.
For press articles about the ceremony, go to the following:
Delaware Governor Markell pardons a historic hero
Newsworks, WHYY TV, Philadelphia, Pa.—Nov. 13, 2015
Black History Matters: Governor Pardons Abolitionist–After 168 Years
New America Media, San Francisco, Calif.—Nov. 11, 2015
Underground Railroad Conductor Pardoned 168 Years After Conviction
History Channel, New York, N.Y.—Nov. 3, 2015
Delaware governor pardons man who helped slaves escape
WMDT TV, Salisbury, Md.—Nov. 2, 2015
Delaware governor pardons abolitionist who helped slaves escape
CBS News, New York, N.Y.—Nov. 2, 2015
Delaware Pardons an Underground Railroad ‘Hero’
New York Times, N.Y.—Nov. 2, 2015
Free black man who helped scores of slaves escape to the North on the Underground Railroad receives official pardon
Daily Mail, London, U.K.—Nov. 2, 2015
Gov. Jack Markell pardons Delaware abolitionist
The News Journal, Wilmington, Del.—Nov 2, 2015
Governor pardons abolitionist Samuel Burris
Delaware State News, Dover, Del.—Nov. 2, 2015
Kent County Underground Railroad Conductor Pardoned
WBOC TV, Salisbury, Md.—Nov. 2, 2015
Man who helped slaves escape pardoned 168 years after conviction
Fox News, New York, N.Y.—Nov. 2, 2015
Markell pardons Delaware Underground Railroad abolitionist
WDEL Radio, Wilmington, Del.—Nov. 2, 2015
Pardoned for his “crime” 168 year later
WPVI TV, Philadelphia, Pa.—Nov. 2, 2015
Posthumous pardon for Delaware man who helped slaves escape in 1847
Reuters, London, U.K.—Nov. 2, 2015
Righting a wrong: Delaware pardons man who guided slaves to freedom
CNN, Atlanta, Ga.—Nov. 2, 2015
Samuel D. Burris pardon is 10 a.m.
Dover Post, Del.—Nov. 1, 2015
In a ceremony held at the Dover Downs Hotel on Oct. 6, 2015, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell recognized 22 individuals and groups as recipients of the 2015 Governor’s Outstanding Volunteer Awards. One group of recipients, the volunteer staff of the Johnson Victrola Museum, was honored in the program’s Arts and Culture category. Three of the museum volunteers—Howard Fulcher, Arnold Leftwich and Jim Schilling—were present at the ceremony. Laura Herbin and David Perlmutter were unable to attend.
Operated by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the Johnson Victrola Museum utilizes authentic phonograph machines, recordings, trademarks, objects and paintings to tell the story of Delaware’s native son, Eldridge Reeves Johnson, founder of the Victor Talking Machine Company and a pioneer in the development of the sound-recording industry.
In August 2009, the museum began operating on a reduced schedule due to reductions in the state budget resulting from the nation-wide economic recession that began in late 2008. In order to extend operating hours, the division initiated a recruitment campaign in March 2011 to attract and train volunteers who would assist existing interpretive staff in operating the museum. A group of almost 20 volunteers, comprised of both retirees and working professionals with an interest in music and the sound-recording industry, was recruited and trained to serve as museum docents. While many of those original volunteers have since left, two members—Fulcher and Leftwich—helped the museum expand to a four-day-per-week operating schedule in May 2011.
Since then the core group of volunteers (Herbin, Perlmutter and Schilling joined in 2012) has contributed more than 3,000 hours of volunteer service, not only assisting the museum staff in greeting visitors and leading guided tours, but also in taking on special projects that go above and beyond the call of duty.
According to their award nomination, submitted by Rachel Wootten, coordinator of the division’s Volunteer Program:
Highlights of their service include Arnold developing and creating a customized guest registry for the museum. He also created a DVD of the 2nd floor of the museum for visitors who are unable to climb the stairs. This DVD includes his original photographs accompanied by music. … Johnson Victrola Museum interpreters frequently use [the DVD] to share the 2nd floor experience with visitors who would be unable to experience it first-hand. Laura has committed to working eight-hour shifts—when a normal scheduled volunteer shift is four hours. James consistently keeps the grounds of Museum Square clean, something he takes pride in, and has also attended volunteer fairs on behalf of the division’s Volunteer Program.
David’s long-term commitment, along with the others, is refreshing in the volunteer world. David has also attended volunteer fairs on behalf of the division. Howard consistently uses his photography skills for division special events and is also active in programming. Most recently, he put on a program … about the jazz great Fats Waller … and also serves on the division’s Community Engagement Committee.
In a statement about all of the winners of the 2015 Governor’s Outstanding Volunteer Awards, Gov. Markell noted, “These volunteers recognize that it’s not about them. It’s about the people they serve. … They not only illustrate the growing ethic of volunteerism in our state, but they contribute to a stronger and healthier Delaware.”
The Governor’s Outstanding Volunteer Awards are sponsored by the Office of the Governor, Delaware Health and Social Services, the Division of State Service Centers, the State Office of Volunteerism, as well as the Governor’s Commission on Community and Volunteer Service.
During September 2015, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs welcomed three new members to its staff—Patricia Gerken, Laurie Turkawski and Nicole Worthley.
Patricia Gerken comes to the Buena Vista Conference Center after serving as a marketing and retail assistant for Delaware State Parks, as the events and retail coordinator for the Indian River Life Saving Station Museum and as the volunteer coordinator for the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village. The Milford, Del. resident holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Delaware. As Buena Vista’s historic-site supervisor, she is involved in a myriad of tasks including maintaining customer relations, meeting with new clients, conducting tours of the property, scheduling events, processing reservation agreements and billing, delegating and monitoring staff duties, managing social-media initiatives and overseeing the maintenance and upkeep of the house and grounds.
Originally from Michigan, architectural historian Laurie Turkawski joined the staff of the division’s State Historic Preservation Office after serving since 2008 as a historian/heritage resource specialist for the Fairfax County (Va.) Department of Planning and Zoning. Previously, she served as a tour guide at the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Woodlawn historic site in Alexandria, Va., and as an intern at the Ypsilanti Historical Society and the Henry Ford, both in Michigan. She holds a master’s degree in historic preservation from Eastern Michigan University, and degrees in finance from Walsh College and Oakland University.
Turkawski’s responsibilities at the division include conducting cultural resource reviews of federally funded or permitted projects for Section 106 compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act for historical and architectural properties; providing coordination services with state designated certified local governments; and oversight of division-held historic preservation easements and covenants.
A resident of New Castle, Del., Nicole Worthley joined the staff of the New Castle Court House Museum as a historic-site interpreter after three seasons serving in that role at Fort Delaware State Park. Worthley graduated in May 2015 from the University of Delaware with a bachelor’s degree in history and anthropology which included internships at the Newark History Museum and the Delaware Academy of Medicine. As a historic-site interpreter dressed in period clothing, Worthley will add a human face to Delaware history by bringing the people and events of the past to life.
By Beverly Laing, historian, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, 302-736-7437, email@example.com.
The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ State Historic Preservation Office and preservation partners throughout the state are gearing up to celebrate an important anniversary and everyone is invited to join. 2016 marks the 50th year since the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, a moment when the country officially recognized the value of preserving and protecting the places that reflect its historic heritage. The act established programs and funding to assist states, Indian tribes and local communities in identifying and preserving their significant historic properties. Delaware’s communities have seen the benefits of these efforts. The anniversary offers the opportunity to raise public awareness and heighten interest about historic preservation in our towns and cities, counties and our state.
Preservation50 is a nation-wide coalition of citizens from all backgrounds who are coming together to build upon the national preservation program established by Congress 50 years ago. Today, federal, state and local governments are working with local preservation organizations, historical societies, museums, schools and churches to protect and preserve our communities. The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs invites YOU to join in these efforts and share the fun.
Beginning now and running through October 2016, we will be part of a force across the state to share ideas, present workshops, offer expertise and generally connect neighborhoods and citizens with the tools needed to make a difference in preserving our heritage, our cultures and our communities. You will see us at festivals and fairs, including the “Revealing the Ridgely Family” celebration in downtown Dover on Oct. 3, 2015; lectures and conferences; and online.
How do you get involved? Look for the Delaware Preservation50 logo and check out the events. Tell us about success stories you have on historic preservation. If you’re interested in joining our efforts, just give us a call, or go to the Preservation50 website and see all the many opportunities to play a role in this celebration.