Delaware’s year-long observance of Preservation50, the 50th anniversary of the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, came to a close with a celebratory program that took place on Friday, Oct. 7, 2016 at the Painted Stave Distillery in Smyrna.
Sponsored by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs and Delaware State Parks’ Time Travelers program, “Preservation50 Historic Preservation Celebration: Past, Present and Future” attracted 68 people who came out to hear the encouraging words of National Park Service historian Dr. John Sprinkle; Erik Hein, executive director of the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers; and Robin Krawitz, graduate director of the historic preservation program at Delaware State University as each shared their perspective of where historic preservation has been, where it is today and where it is going in the future. The program concluded with the presentation of a certificate of recognition to Kim Burdick, historian and curator of the Hale-Byrnes House, who led a grassroots effort to make historic preservation more well-known to the public.
Members of the public are invited to attend the next meeting of the Delaware State Review Board for Historic Preservation which will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 at 10 a.m. at The Old State House located at 25 The Green in Dover, Del. As part of the meeting, the review board will discuss two new nominations to the National Register of Historic Places: Holly Oak, a private residence located at 1503 Ridge Road in New Castle County north of Wilmington; and the Wilmington Commercial Historic District located on Market Street between Sixth and Ninth streets. Due to limited spaces, attendees are encouraged to park their cars at the Delaware Public Archives located at 121 Martin Luther King Blvd. North in Dover.
In accordance with the Delaware Freedom of Information Act, this meeting is open to the public and copies of the minutes will be made available upon request in accordance with the law. Written comments should be submitted prior to the meeting date. Oral comments and questions will be invited during the meeting.
For additional information, please contact Madeline Dunn, the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ National Register coordinator via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 302-736-7417.
Individuals needing reasonable accommodations in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act may call 302-736-7400 by Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016.
Written on: September 23rd, 2016 in News
On Sept. 19, 2016, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs employees and volunteers gathered at the Laurel, Del. Fire Hall for an all-staff meeting to review recent successes and examine future plans.
Division director Tim Slavin kicked off the program by welcoming the following staff members who have joined the division over the past six months: Kara Briggs, Kaitlyn Dykes, Kelly Ewing, Andrew Lyter, Steven Mumford and John Witzman; plus Nate Betts who is providing contractual services for the division’s State Historic Preservation Office. This was followed by the announcement of a perfect-attendance award for Dan Davis and the presentation of staff service-awards to Ann Baker Horsey for 40 years of service, Jan Rettig for 25 years, and Vertie Lee and Edward McWilliams for 20 years.
Division staff members then came to the podium to honor their colleagues by presenting Extra Mile Awards to Kaitlyn Dykes, Beth Gott and Tom Pulmano of the Zwaanendael Museum staff who helped a visitor recover her handbag which had been left at the site—and Jennifer Bowman; Barbara Carrow; Chis Conley; Jennifer Dunham; Melissa Fitzgerald; Beth Gott; Carla, Maya and Zaria Griffith; Chris Hall; Vertie Lee; Chris Merrill; Sharyn Murray; Tom Pulmano; James Scott; Charolenne, Richard and Ricky Shehorn; Nena Todd; Bridget Wallace and Yvonne Henry-Whaley who helped to make the John Dickinson Plantation/St. Jones Reserve’s “Make a Splash!” festival a resounding success.
Slavin then returned to share the news that members of the division family would soon be honored with two important state-level awards: Greg Buchman, Chris Conley, Scott Hayes and James Scott of the Preservation-Maintenance Team will receive the Department of State’s Employee of the Second Quarter for the emergency aid that they provided to a fellow employee who had collapsed at a job site; and Dr. Carolyn Apple who will receive a 2016 Governor’s Outstanding Volunteer Award for her work in helping to obtain the William D. Willis World War II Photographic Collection for the state’s collections, and for her tireless efforts in researching, documenting and curating photos; writing display text; and assisting in the installation of exhibits and displays that showcase photos from the collection.
In addition to highlighting the work of the division’s staff and volunteers, the event included progress reports on the division’s priority activities including, among many others, strategic planning, progress on obtaining accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums, collections inventory and a variety of historic-preservation initiatives. Staff members also added variety to the meeting by presenting four short vignettes on various aspects of Delaware history.
Before concluding the day’s activities, attendees received training in the proper use of fire extinguishers, and participated in a team-building exercise that provided valuable lessons in collaboration, innovation and creativity. As part of the exercise, participants were divided into several small groups and asked to build free-standing structures out of a pack of playing cards.
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.
By Brian Cannon, lead interpreter, New Castle Court House Museum
The United States is known as a “melting pot” for good reason. We have always adapted the elements of our many cultures, food and language to enrich our unique American society. In the center of New Castle, Del., lies one of the earliest of these cultural imports—a grass- and tree-covered plot of land called “the Green.”
In 1651, the Dutch West India Company established a military post named Fort Casimir at present-day New Castle to control the adjacent South River, today the Delaware River. In 1655, as colonists began settling the area around the fort, it became necessary to lay out streets and plots of land for homes. In keeping with the European style, Petrus Stuyvesant, director general of the Dutch West India Company’s North American colony, included in the plan a central, open public-area to allow grazing of animals, public markets and eventually, a blockhouse for defense.
Over time, the grazing sheep and town markets moved elsewhere and the Green became known as the Public Square. The blockhouse, not needed for defense, became the court house and jail, and a place for public activities. In October 1682, William Penn arrived in North America to claim his new colony of Pennsylvania and the area known as the Three Lower Counties on Delaware, the present day state of Delaware. He received title to the Lower Counties at the blockhouse in a ceremony called Livery of Seizen, commemorated today with a nearby statue of William Penn by noted sculptor Charles Cropper Parks.
In 1689, a new, wooden court-house-building was constructed on the Green and the old blockhouse was given to the town’s Anglican Church parish. This structure was soon replaced by a new masonry building that today serves the congregation of Immanuel Episcopal Church.
The Public Square quickly developed as New Castle County’s legal and governmental center. In 1729, the old court house was destroyed by fire and replaced in 1732 with a new brick structure that served courts, government offices and the colonial assembly for the Three Lower Counties. Today, that building is the New Castle Court House Museum, interpreting the town’s importance in Delaware and regional history.
As the court system expanded, the need for additional jail- and workhouse-space also grew. At first, jail space was included in the court house itself. However, by the 1800s, the Green included separate buildings for incarceration. A new county prison built in the 1850s would occupy almost a quarter of the Green until it was closed in 1905. The prison was demolished in 1911 except for a two-story brownstone building known as the Sheriff’s House. Originally the administrative offices for the prison and official home for the county sheriff, the house is now owned by the National Park Service and will be used as the offices of the First State National Historical Park. [Editor’s note: The Green and New Castle Court House Museum are partner sites in the First State National Historical Park.]
The fear of a coming war with Great Britain prompted the federal government to erect an arsenal on the Green in 1809 to store weapons and gunpowder. A small, windowless brick-structure, it was eventually given to the town of New Castle and enlarged to become a school house.
The citizens of New Castle had been early enthusiasts of education, supporting the 1799 construction of a building on the Green called the Academy. While it was not a public school in the modern sense, it was ahead of most communities in Delaware, even allowing young ladies to attend. As the population of New Castle grew, the presence of the Academy and Arsenal as schools gave the center of town the nickname the “School Green.”
Today, except for the Sheriff’s House and Immanuel Church, the New Castle Green and its buildings are owned by the state of Delaware and maintained by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. The open space no longer supports sheep and cows, but is designated as an “urban forest” containing over a dozen species of trees, and is used daily by residents and visitors alike as an escape back to a slower time in Delaware history.
Born in Wilmington and raised in New Castle County, Brian Cannon served in the U.S. Air Force before attending Delaware Technical and Community College and Delaware State University. After 25 years of service in fire protection and safety management, he began a second career in the museum field. Cannon joined the staff of the New Castle Court House Museum in 1997 and has served as a full-time staff member since 2007.
The five museums of the State of Delaware will be sponsoring 17 special events during the month of October 2016. 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, October 2016
Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016
“The Birth and Re-Birth of a State House: The 40th Anniversary of The Old State House Restoration.” Guided tours explore the modifications that have been made to The Old State House since its completion in 1791, Mabel Lloyd Ridgely’s efforts to restore it and its restoration in 1976 as part of the nation’s bicentennial. 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, Oct. 1, 2016
“Music of the World.” Guided tours explore the music of cultures from around the world that was recorded by the Victor Talking Machine Company, accompanied by 78-rpm records 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.
Fridays, Oct. 7, 14 and 28, 2016
“Photo Fridays.” Take advantage of early morning and late afternoon light to photograph the natural beauty of the home and grounds of the “Penman of the Revolution.” John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Plantation open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Early and late access available by reservation only by calling 302-739-3277.
Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016
“A Day in the Life of the John Dickinson Plantation.” Visitors of all ages will enjoy a day of hands-on activities from Colonial trades to hearth cooking in the 18th-century setting of the home of the “Penman of the Revolution.” John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.
Saturday, Oct. 8, 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.
Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016
“Currents Reading.” Literary reading by Delaware poets and authors published in the new anthology “Currents” which showcases work from the Delaware Division of the Arts’ 2012 Cape Henlopen writers retreat. Part of the statewide Delaware Literary Reading Series 2016. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. 1–3 p.m. 302-739-3277.
Monday, Oct. 10, 2016
Columbus 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.
Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016
“1781 Surrender: End of War.” Lecture by historic-site interpreter Bob Vander Decker. Part 10 of “The Founding of America in One Year,” 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, Oct. 15, 2016
River Towns Ride and Festival. Festivals in historic New Castle and Delaware City frame a bicycling event between the two cities. Family-oriented festival held from 11:30 a.m.–5 p.m. at the New Castle Court House Museum and The Green in New Castle will feature food and craft beer, music, pumpkin decorating and children’s games. 302-323-4453. Note: Event originally scheduled for Oct. 1, 2016. Due to inclement weather, event rescheduled to Oct. 15, 2016.
Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016
Meeting of the State Review Board for Historic Preservation. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. 10 a.m. 302-736-7417.
Friday, Oct. 21, 2016
“Lantern Tours of the Plantation.” Programs explore the parties, games, dances and entertainment that would have abounded at the plantation during the nighttime in the 18th century. Activities will also include wagon-ride guided-tours conducted by staff of the St. Jones Reserve exploring the nocturnal life of the estuary. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Programs 6–7 p.m. and 7:30–8:30 p.m. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations are required by calling the John Dickinson Plantation at 302-739-3277 no later than Oct. 20.
Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016
William Penn Day. Series of programs commemorating the 334th anniversary of Penn’s disembarkment at New Castle, his first landing in the New World. Activities include a re-enactment of the Livery of Seizen ritual at 10:15 a.m. in which Penn received possession of New Castle and a 12-mile circle of land surrounding it; a performance by De Blokfluiters recorder/flute ensemble at 11 a.m.; “The Tryal of William Penn,” a historical play exploring Penn’s trial on religious freedom and the rights of English subjects under the law at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m.; “The Amazing Mrs. Penn,” a living-history performance by Jean Norvell as Hannah Penn at 2 p.m.; and a Baroque concert by the Immanuel Bach Consort at 6 p.m. New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle. Free admission but reservations required for the 6 p.m. concert. 302-323-4453. Note: The time for the Immanuel Bach Consort performance has been changed from 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016
“Distilling in Delaware.” Lecture on the history of distilling in the First State by Mike Rasmussen, co-founder of Painted Stave Distilling in Smyrna, Del., plus a tasting of some of the company’s products. Presented in coordination with the museum’s exhibit “Wine and Spirits in Delaware: Producing, Preserving, and Presenting.” Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Program at 5 p.m. on the museum’s 2nd floor (entry via staircase; no elevator). Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations are required by calling 302-645-1148 no later than Oct. 21, 2016.
Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016
“The Spirit of New Castle Past.” Play by historic-site interpreter David Price explores historical figures of New Castle’s past who return to tell their stories of conquest, murder, adultery, kidnapping, slavery and revolution. New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle. 7 p.m. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations are required. No admission after the play begins. 302-323-4453.
Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016
“Mysteries of History.” Walking tour explores the unusual tombstones of St. Peter’s cemetery in Lewes. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Tour leaves from the museum at 2 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-645-1148.
Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016
“Who Done It: A Historic Murder Mystery.” Fictionalized historical play in which museum guests assist Delaware’s Dr. James Sykes in questioning suspects in the death of Samuel Bedford, III. Based on a real 18th-century medical mystery solved by Dr. Sykes. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Performances at 2 and 8 p.m. Visitors to the 2 p.m. performance are encouraged to bring children for indoor trick-or-treating at stops within the building. Costumes are welcomed for all who attend. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations are required by calling 302-744-5054.
Programs on Delaware’s Native-American heritage that were cancelled for Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016 have been rescheduled to the remaining weekends in September, 2016. The cancellations were due to inclement weather resulting from the after-effects of Hurricane Hermine.
Following is updated information on the programs:
Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016
Spoken-word performances on Delaware’s Native Americans. Latest installment in the “Listen Up!” spoken-word series which features local youth who utilize poetry, theater, dance and song to create compositions that celebrate different aspects of Delaware history. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Performances at Noon and 2:30 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Free admission. 302-744-5054. Rescheduled from Sept. 3, 2016.
Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016
“We ARE Still Here!” As part of a discussion about his book, “We Are Still Here!: The Tribal Saga of New Jersey’s Nanticoke and Lenape Indians,” the Rev. Dr. John R. Norwood examines the most popular misconceptions about Native-American people and their existence in today’s society. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 1 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Free admission. 302-744-5054. No change from original schedule.
Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016
“The First People of the First State: A Lenape Celebration of Heritage.” Sixth annual celebration featuring the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware as they honor mother earth and Native-American culture with dancing and demonstrations from 10 a.m.–4 p.m.; “Digging for Old Delaware” and “Native American Games and Amusements” from 10 a.m.–4 p.m.; grand entry at Noon; flint-knapping lesson at 1 p.m.; “Surviving Invasion: The First People of the First State” lecture by Dr. Cara Blume at 1:30 p.m.; and cordage-making class at 2 p.m. On The Green and in the John Bell House and The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Free admission. 302-744-5054. Rescheduled from Sept. 3, 2016.
Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016
“Songs and Stories: Oral Traditions of Delaware’s Native Peoples.” Presentation by historic-site interpreter Kaitlyn Dykes on Delaware’s native peoples through their own words. 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 Sept. 23, 2016. No change from original schedule.