On Oct. 17, 2016, St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church, located at 103 W. Mispillion St. in Harrington, Del., was 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.
Constructed in 1895, the church has continuously served Harrington’s black community for more than 120 years. According to Frank Zebley, a Delaware church historian, St. Paul represents the last of the 11 African Methodist Episcopal churches built in Kent County between 1867 and 1895. Church records indicate that its congregation was established in 1830 just 17 years after the African Methodist Episcopal Church was organized by Richard Allen and one year before his death.
The church building is a frame, one-story, rectangular vernacular structure designed in the Gothic Revival style. Significant architectural features include a steep gable roof; an offset bell tower capped by a pyramidal roof with bell-cast eaves; and pointed-arch-shaped Gothic Revival style windows with multi-colored glass panes with scissor-like wooden muntins and mullions. Textured glass-panes include a variety of colors such as off white, golden yellow, orange, turquoise blue, light sage and burnt umber.
Written on: December 20th, 2016 in News
During the past several months, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs has welcomed five new employees to its staff. Following are profiles of these talented individuals who are helping the division in its efforts to save Delaware history.
Nate Betts is a contract employee working with the division’s State Historic Preservation Office in transferring information previously stored on microfiche to digital files. The digitized information will then be made available to the public on the agency’s Cultural and Historical Resources Information System (CHRIS), a web-based Geographic Information System. A long-time resident of Kent County, Del., Betts was trained in data analysis at Computer Aid, Inc. (CAI) and has also worked as an electrician.
Historic-site interpreter Valerie Kauffman recently joined the staff of the division’s downtown Dover museums (Old State House and Johnson Victrola Museum) after serving as a volunteer at those sites since June 2016. A former art teacher in the Capital School District, Kauffman shared her creative skills with the division’s museums in a variety of functions including designing props, and serving on the planning committee, for the “Listen Up!” spoken-word program. In recognition of her many contributions, she was awarded the division’s Newcomer Award during the agency’s staff-recognition event on Nov. 12, 2016.
Smyrna native Christian Rieth serves as a physical-plant maintenance-mechanic helper with the division’s Preservation-Maintenance Team which maintains, repairs and preserves the nearly 90 structures administered by the agency. A graduate of Smyrna High School, Rieth has apprenticed and worked in a wide variety of trades, most recently as an automotive-repair machinist. He also holds a commercial driver license from the American Driver Training Academy. An avid avocational musician, he plays several instruments most notably drums and trombone, and has performed as a World War II historical-re-enactor.
Contract employee Michael Sutherland has been working with the State Historic Preservation Office to enter the locations of historical Delaware properties into the agency’s Cultural and Historical Resources Information System (CHRIS). Utilizing old paper maps, he is locating parcels, checking addresses, mapping points and filling out digital data-fields in CHRIS that provide information about the sites. Sutherland is a recent graduate of Penn State University where he majored in geography and minored in geographic-information-system technology. The Hellertown, Pa. native now lives in Smyrna.
Daquan Wilson has been assisting Lynn Riley, the division’s senior planner, with data entry and computer applications that are needed in administering the agency’s Cultural Asset Management Program (CAMP) and in other planning activities. A life-long resident of Wilmington, Wilson graduated from A. I. du Pont High School and has studied information technology as part of ITWorks, a program of Tech Impact.
The five museums of the State of Delaware will be sponsoring eight special events during the month of January 2017. A full schedule is included below. All programs are free and open to the public.
Administered by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the five museums—the John Dickinson Plantation, the Johnson Victrola Museum, the New Castle Court House Museum, The Old State House and the Zwaanendael Museum—tell the story of the First State’s contributions to the history and culture of the United States. Through tours, exhibits, school programs and hands-on activities, the museums shine a spotlight on Delaware’s unique history and the diverse people who came to live there. The New Castle Court House Museum and the John Dickinson Plantation are partner sites of the First State National Historical Park. The Old State House is located on the Dover Green, another partner site of the park. Go to the following for a comprehensive, long-term calendar of events sponsored by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs.
Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs special programs, January 2017
Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017
New Year’s Day. All museums of the State of Delaware (the John Dickinson Plantation, the Johnson Victrola Museum, the New Castle Court House Museum, The Old State House and the Zwaanendael Museum) will be closed. 302-744-5054.
Monday, Jan. 2, 2017
New Year’s Day observed. The following museums of the State of Delaware will be open: The Johnson Victrola Museum and The Old State House, open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. The following museums will be closed: The John Dickinson Plantation, the New Castle Court House Museum and the Zwaanendael Museum. 302-744-5054.
Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017
“Prohibition in Delaware: No Toast for the Boys off to Fight in World War I.” In 1917, Delaware declared all three counties to be dry with only one city in the entire state which held out and manufactured and sold alcohol. Interpretive tours will examine the era of prohibition in Delaware during the First World War. First Saturday in the First State program. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5054.
Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017
“The Victors of World War I: The Power of Music.” In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into the First World War, guided tours will examine music’s influence during the conflict 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. 302-739-3262.
Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017
“Patriots and Loyalists: Life in Lewes—A Town Torn During the Revolution.” Lecture by historic-site interpreter Andrew Lyter. Part three of “Ship to Shore Saturdays,” a four-part series that chronicles local Lewes history. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Program at 2 p.m. on the museum’s 2nd floor (entry via staircase; no elevator). 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. 6, 2017.
Friday, Jan. 13, 2017
Concert by Charlie Zahm. Celtic/folk music. Presented in partnership with the Delaware Friends of Folk and the First State Heritage Park. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. 7:30 p.m. 302-744-5054.
Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017
“Preserving the Culinary Traditions of Southern Delaware.” Lecture by Denise Clemons who writes “Cape Flavors,” a weekly food column for the Cape Gazette and who is the author of “A Culinary History of Southern Delaware.” Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Program at 2 p.m. on the museum’s 2nd floor (entry via staircase; no elevator). 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. 13, 2017.
Monday, Jan. 16, 2017
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The following museums of the State of Delaware will be open: The Johnson Victrola Museum and The Old State House, open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. The following museums will be closed: The John Dickinson Plantation, the New Castle Court House Museum and the Zwaanendael Museum). 302-744-5054.
Monday, Jan. 16, 2017
“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. 16, 2017
“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 78-rpm 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.
Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017
Delaware State Review Board for Historic Preservation business meeting. Agenda to include a presentation by architectural historian Robin Krawitz on the Jackson-Wilson House in Wilmington which has been nominated for placement in the National Register of Historic Places. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. 10 a.m. 302-736-7417.
Written on: December 16th, 2016 in News
In a ceremony attended by more than 300 people at the Delaware Public Archives building in Dover on Dec. 10, 2016, Delaware Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock presented awards celebrating participants in the Fifteenth Delaware Day Fourth Grade Competition. More than 1,000 students from 19 schools across the state contributed to the program in 2016.
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 historical accuracy, spelling and creativity.
Specific questions for this year’s competition required students to study Article V which provides a process for amending the Constitution, and subsequent amendments which expanded voting privileges. Students were also asked to share their views about the importance of voting as an act of citizenship.
Bullock kicked off the 2016 competition in a Sept. 27 event at North Star Elementary School in Hockessin where he participated with students in a competition on the Constitution entitled “Are You Smarter than a Fourth Grader.”
Nearly three months later at the awards ceremony, Bullock noted “Delaware Day is our time to celebrate just how important our state was in the early days of the nation. … As always, the projects our fourth graders presented were outstanding tributes to this legacy, and I congratulate them for their efforts and the time they devoted to learning about the history of the First State.”
Each of the competition’s winning schools is 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 2016 competition are the George Read Award to Wilmington Friends School; the Gunning Bedford, Jr. Award (tie) to Bunker Hill Elementary School in Middletown and Gallaher Elementary School in Newark; the John Dickinson Award (tie) to North Dover Elementary School and Lake Forest Central Elementary School in Felton; the Richard Bassett Award to North Laurel Elementary School; and the Jacob Broom Award to the Learning Express Academy in Newark.
Honorable-mention awards were presented to Bancroft, Booker T. Washington, Carrie Downie, Leasure, Long Neck, McVey, North Star and Wilson elementary schools; the Islamic Academy of Delaware; and Christ the Teacher, Epworth Christian and Newark Charter schools.
Artistic Merit Awards, reviewed by the Delaware Division of the Arts with assistance from the Newark Arts Alliance, were also announced during the ceremony. These awards recognized projects whose overall visual design and impact, composition, cohesiveness and originality represented artistic excellence. Schools honored in this category were Bunker Hill, Gallaher and North Dover elementary schools; Epworth Christian School; and the Learning Express Academy. Honorable-mention awards in the Artistic Merit category were presented to Christ the Teacher, Newark Charter, North Laurel Elementary and Wilmington Friends schools.
The 2016 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. Division historians Bev Laing and Carlton Hall assisted in evaluating the competing projects.
Throughout the month of December 2016, the Zwaanendael Museum, located at 102 Kings Highway in Lewes, Del., has been decked out for the holidays in a horticultural display created by the Sussex Gardeners, a local garden group.
Inspired by holiday-decorating techniques used at Colonial Williamsburg, the display, entitled “Preserving Our Floral Heritage,” was created in celebration of Preservation50, the 50th anniversary of the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. It features flowers, fruit, evergreen branches and other plant material preserved by using a floral desiccant or by air drying.
Desiccants used for drying plant material are granular, moisture-absorbing agents such as silica gel and fine white sand. The advantage of using desiccants is that plant material is entirely embraced and the natural contour and color of the material is more accurately preserved. The Sussex Gardeners employed two different ways of using desiccants in the display. The first method drew moisture from flowers in two to six days. The second method used a microwave in combination with silica gel and a separate dish of water. The microwave method takes a minute or two at 50% power and typically produces the best results.
The display also features plant materials that have been air dried using traditional methods. Air drying is the easiest and least expensive method for drying flowers and foliage although it takes much more time. Bunches of flowers/foliage are hung upside down in a dry, dimly lit area. The speed of evaporation of the water content in the flowers and foliage determines the drying time.
Founded in 1937, the Sussex Gardeners is one of the oldest garden clubs in the United States. It is a member of the Federation of Garden Clubs and part of The National Garden Clubs, Inc., Central Atlantic Region. Its mission is to bring together members of the community who have an interest in the fine art of gardening, landscape design, floral design and horticulture. Its community outreach includes programs in garden therapy, conservation and civic beautification.
Written on: December 14th, 2016 in News
During an all-staff event that took place on Dec. 12, 2016 at the Buena Vista Conference Center in New Castle, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs paid tribute to its staff and volunteers who helped make 2016 a successful year for the agency.
Division Director Tim Slavin began the program by welcoming the following individuals who have joined the division since September 2016: Christian Rieth of the Preservation-Maintenance Team; Daquan Wilson of the Cultural Asset Management Program (CAMP)/Planning Team; Michael Sutherland, a contract employee who is adding historic-property information to the Cultural and Historical Resources Information System (CHRIS); and Valerie Kauffman, a historic-site interpreter at the division’s downtown Dover museums. This was followed by the announcement of the retirement of three long-term employees: Dianna Harris of the Business Services Team; Sharyn Murray, historic-site interpreter at the Zwaanendael Museum; and Jack Wisniewski of the Horticulture Team.
In recognition of their services to the division, Slavin presented a Perfect Attendance Award to Dan Davis; honored Carolyn Apple as a recipient of a 2016 Governor’s Outstanding Volunteer Award; and presented a certificate of appreciation to Gloria Henry and Marian Carpenter who were part of the division’s American Association of Museums Accreditation Team that was nominated for a Governor’s team Excellence Award.
Slavin then passed the baton to Volunteer Services Coordinator Bridget Wallace who presented volunteer-service certificates to Carolyn Apple for 255 volunteer-hours contributed during 2016; Kent Slavin (241.5 hours); Chris Collins (193.2 hours); Valerie Kauffman (124.5 hours); Jim Schilling (110 hours); Bitsy Mahon (69 hours); M.L. Christmas (56.5 hours); and Carla Griffith (36.25 hours) who also accepted certificates for her daughters Zaria Griffith (49.5 hours) and Maya Griffith (35.25 hours).
Division staff members then came to the podium to honor their colleagues by presenting a Biggest Impact Award to Cindy Snyder for her many years of service as site supervisor of the New Castle Court House Museum; a Newcomer Award to Valerie Kauffman; and Lifetime Achievement awards to Sharyn Murray and Dianna Harris.
In addition to recognizing the achievements of the division’s staff and volunteers, the meeting included remarks by Delaware Secretary of State Jeffrey W. Bullock; a historical-theater presentation, “Who Done It: A Historic Murder Mystery”; and a presentation on the William D. Willis World War II Photographic Collection.
Team-building exercises included “Believe It or Not,” a series of scenarios in which staff members were asked to identify the one fictitious story out of three extraordinary work-related occurrences; and the Mannequin Challenge, the division’s take on the viral Internet-video trend where people remain frozen in action like mannequins while a moving camera films them. Go to the following to view the division’s Mannequin Challenge video.
Due to road construction, the parking lot of the Johnson Victrola Museum, located at 375 S. New St. in Dover, Del., will be closed beginning Dec, 13, 2016. Visitors should park on Bank Lane (the street immediately adjacent to the museum’s rear entrance). Visitors will be able to enter the building from that side. The parking lot is expected to remain closed through at least January 2017.
Museum hours of operation will remain the same during construction: Wednesday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. In addition, the museum will be open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 26, 2016 and Jan. 2, 2017. For additional information, call 302-739-3262.
The Johnson Victrola Museum highlights the life and achievements of Delaware’s native son, Eldridge Reeves Johnson, founder of the Victor Talking Machine Company. Through phonographs, memorabilia, trademarks, objects and paintings, the museum showcases Johnson, his company and the development of the sound-recording industry.
Delaware’s historic Buena Vista mansion will be decked out for a one-day-only holiday open-house on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The open house, entitled “Land and Sea Christmas,” will feature decorations and children’s craft activities on the themes of the land and sea. Self-guided tours of the home and refreshments will also be available. The event is free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-323-4430.
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
On Nov. 18, 2016, the Delaware Society for the Preservation of Antiquities was notified that it would be receiving a $47,610 grant from the Longwood Foundation for repair of deteriorating mortar joints in the brick façade at the gables and chimneys of the Hale-Byrnes House, located at 606 Stanton-Christiana Road in Newark, Del.
Leased to the antiquities society by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, Hale-Byrnes House was built in 1750 and used in 1777 as a meeting place for Gen. George Washington and his staff between the Battle of Cooch’s Bridge in Delaware and the Battle of Brandywine in Pennsylvania. The house was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
In recent years, significant investments in water-control have been completed at the property including the replacement of the septic system by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, and improvements made by the Delaware Department of Transportation that prevent road runoff from entering the property.
Written on: November 23rd, 2016 in News
During its 25th annual “Celebration of Tourism” luncheon held at the Duncan Center in Dover, Del. on Nov. 10, 2016, Kent County Tourism presented its Tourism Champion Award to the Delaware Department of State for the contributions that the agency and its component divisions and affiliates have made to the tourism and hospitality industries in Kent County. The department was one of six individuals and organizations honored as part of the annual Kent County Tourism Awards program. The luncheon also provided an opportunity for the tourism agency to unveil its new Kent County brand-identity: “Delaware’s Quaint Villages—At Your Own Pace.”
Before presenting the award, Wendie Vestfall, executive director of Kent County Tourism, noted that “the Delaware Department of State has been an active partner with Kent County Tourism for many years through the work of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the Delaware Public Archives, the Division of the Arts, the Division of Libraries, the Delaware Heritage Commission and the First State Heritage Park. From the John Dickinson Plantation to the Children’s Theatre, the Old State House, the Biggs Museum of American Art and more, sharing Delaware’s unique and diverse culture is central to the department’s mission.”
Speaking to representatives of the department’s divisions and affiliates who were present at the awards ceremony, Delaware Secretary of State Jeffrey W. Bullock noted, “I have a great department and most of it is centered here in Kent County. … To all of you from the Department of State who contribute to the economy of Kent County, thank you for the terrific job you do.”
Additional individuals and organizations that were honored at the ceremony include Michael Leister, executive director of the Air Mobility Command Museum who received the Legacy Award; the Firefly Music Festival which was honored as the Tourism Attraction of the Year; Redner’s Warehouse Markets which was named Tourism Partner of Year; Jim Rafte of Proforma Preferred Solutions who was honored as Tourism Volunteer of the Year; and Sarah Zimmerman, superintendent of the First State Heritage Park who was named Tourism Person of the Year.