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  Archived Posts From: 2016

Hale-Byrnes House to receive $47,610 grant from the Longwood Foundation

Written on: November 23rd, 2016 in Historic SitesNewsPreservation

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.

Deteriorating mortar joints at one of the gables of the Hale-Byrnes House.

Deteriorating mortar joints at one of the gables of the Hale-Byrnes House.

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. 

Hale-Byrnes House

Hale-Byrnes House

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.


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Delaware Department of State receives Tourism Champion Award from Kent County Tourism

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.”

Presentation of the Tourism Champion Award plaque to the Delaware Department of State. From left: Stephanie Adams, development and marketing manager for the Biggs Museum of American Art; Wendie Vestfall, executive director of Kent County Tourism; Beth-Ann Ryan, deputy director of the Division of Libraries; Suzanne Savery, deputy director of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs; Nena Todd, site supervisor of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ downtown Dover museums; Dr. Annie Norman, director of the Division of Libraries; Gloria Henry, site supervisor of the John Dickinson Plantation; Delaware Secretary of State Jeffrey W. Bullock; Tim Slavin, director of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs; Kristin Pleasanton, deputy director of the Division of the Arts; and Tom Summers, information-resources manager for Delaware Public Archives.

Presentation of the Tourism Champion Award plaque to the Delaware Department of State. From left: Stephanie Adams, development and marketing manager for the Biggs Museum of American Art; Wendie Vestfall, executive director of Kent County Tourism; Beth-Ann Ryan, deputy director of the Division of Libraries; Suzanne Savery, deputy director of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs; Nena Todd, site supervisor of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ downtown Dover museums; Dr. Annie Norman, director of the Division of Libraries; Gloria Henry, site supervisor of the John Dickinson Plantation; Delaware Secretary of State Jeffrey W. Bullock; Tim Slavin, director of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs; Kristin Pleasanton, deputy director of the Division of the Arts; and Tom Summers, information-resources manager for Delaware Public Archives.

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.”

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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.


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Restoration work completed at Old Sussex County Court House

Written on: November 22nd, 2016 in Historic SitesNewsPreservation

As part of Return Day festivities on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016, state and local officials participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the rededication of the recently restored Old Sussex County Court House located at 10 S. Bedford St. in Georgetown, Del. Owned by the state of Delaware and managed by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the property recently underwent a $307,000 rehabilitation that included both a major exterior-restoration and interior refurbishment of the site’s first and second floors. These improvements were funded by appropriations from the state of Delaware’s Minor Capital Improvements and Equipment program.

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Exterior of the Old Sussex County Court House prior to restoration.

Exterior of the Old Sussex County Court House after restoration.

Exterior of the Old Sussex County Court House after restoration.

The building was originally constructed in 1791 after the Sussex County seat was moved from Lewes to Georgetown in order to provide a more centralized location for county governmental and judicial functions. In 1837, the structure was moved from its original location on Georgetown Circle to make way for the current court house which still occupies the site. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Old Sussex County Court House is still used occasionally for special court functions. It is now leased to the Georgetown Historical Society which opens it for public visitation at various times throughout the year.

Refurbished interior of the Old Sussex County Court House.

Refurbished interior of the Old Sussex County Court House.

Recent improvements to the property include removal of all the wood-shingle siding on the exterior of the building; repointing of the masonry chimneys; repair of existing wooden windows, doors and raised-panel shutters; repair of the existing wood-shingle roof where needed; application of liquid-membrane waterproofing to the existing metal cupola-floor; restoration of the chime for the cupola’s bell; refurbishing of all existing metal window-, shutter- and door-hardware; painting existing wooden windows and doors; staining new exterior wood-shingle siding; stabilizing interior plaster walls where needed and whitewashing all interior plaster walls; and the application of an oil finish on all interior woodwork exclusive of the floors.


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Small Grants available from Delaware Preservation Fund

Written on: November 21st, 2016 in NewsPreservation

The Delaware Preservation Fund is currently accepting applications for funding under its Small Grants Program. The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 16, 2016.

The Delaware Preservation Fund, an affiliate of Preservation Delaware, is dedicated to the preservation of the historic built-environment in Delaware. The fund’s Small Grants Program supports qualified improvements to historic properties with grants of $1,000 (or somewhat larger in exceptional cases) and by offering short-term loans at below market terms for larger projects.

Grant-application forms are available by going to the Delaware Preservation Fund’s Small Grants Program. For additional information, contact Vincent Murphy, project director, at dpf@dca.net or 443-504-2049.

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Division to sponsor 14 special programs during the 2016 winter-holiday season

Written on: November 18th, 2016 in EventsHistoric SitesMuseumsNews

The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be sponsoring 14 special events, including eight winter-holiday-themed activities, between Nov. 30, 2016 and Jan. 2, 2017. A full schedule is included below. All programs are free and open to the public.

The Johnson Victrola Museum will present “A Victrola for Christmas” on Dec. 3, 2016.

The Johnson Victrola Museum will present “A Victrola for Christmas” on Dec. 3, 2016.

Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016
“Rollin’ on the River.” Lecture by historian Kim Burdick about Revolutionary-War-era life along the Delaware River. Burdick will also have copies of her book “Revolutionary Delaware: Independence in the First State” for sale and autographing. New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle. 7 p.m. 302-323-4453.

Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016
“Hospitality Night: ‘The Holiday Pickle.’ ” Learn how to make pickles, explore the history of the pickle and its significance to the season and enjoy the museum trimmed for the holidays by the Sussex Gardeners. Presented in partnership with the Lewes Chamber of Commerce. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. 5–8 p.m. 302-645-1148.

Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016
“A Victrola for Christmas.” Guided tours examine the holiday marketing-strategies of Eldridge Reeves Johnson of the Victor Talking Machine Company including advertisements posted in newspapers and magazines in the early 1900s, accompanied by 78-rpm recordings of holiday 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, Dec. 3, 2016
“Tour Zwaanendael Museum.” Enjoy the museum’s festive holiday-décor. Event held in conjunction with the Lewes Historical Society’s Christmas Tour of Lewes. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. 302-645-1148.

Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016
“Handmade for the Holidays.” Seasonal program in which visitors can design a holiday card with watercolors and a quill pen. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016
“Historic Holiday Traditions.” Lecture by historic-site interpreter Latecia Prophet examines holiday traditions of the 18th century. First Saturday in the First State program. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 1 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5054.

The Old State House

The Old State House

Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016
“Listen Up! The Art of Sound.” Local youth working with Delaware spoken-word artists James Alexander, Brock Kalim and the Twin Poets, perform their own spoken-word compositions that sample historic 78-rpm Victor recordings. Part of the “Listen Up!” series that features young people who utilize poetry, theater, dance and song to create compositions that celebrate different aspects of Delaware history. First Saturday in the First State program. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. Performance at 1 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5054.

Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016
“1784-1787: Continental Congress to Constitution.” Lecture by historic-site interpreter Bob Vander Decker. Final segment 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. NOTE: Event date changed from 12-14-16 to 12-7-16.

Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016
Spirit of Christmas in New Castle.” One of the best preserved Colonial-era towns in America will feature tours of historic homes bedecked in holiday decorations, Dickens-themed holiday activities, re-enactments, programs at museums including the New Castle Court House Museum, crafts, musical entertainment and more. Festivities will conclude at 5 p.m. with the annual Christmas tree lighting at Market Square. Downtown New Castle. 302-328-3279.

Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016
Delaware Day awards ceremony. Event honors participants in the Delaware Department of State’s 15th annual Delaware Day Fourth Grade Competition which challenges students to create displays that help illustrate and explain the U.S. Constitution and the role played by Delawareans in the writing and ratification of the nation’s founding document. Delaware Public Archives, 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Dover. 10 a.m. 302-744-5000.

Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016
“Land and Sea Christmas”: Buena Vista Holiday Open House. One-day-only event features tours of one of Delaware’s most historic homes decorated for the holidays plus craft activities for children. Buena Vista Conference Center, 661 S. Dupont Highway (Route 13), New Castle. 10 a.m.–2 p.m. 302-323-4430.

Buena Vista

Buena Vista

Saturday, Dec. 10, 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.

Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016
“The Tragic and Heroic Legacy of Jacob Jones.” Lecture by historic-site interpreter Kaitlyn Dykes. Part two 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 Dec. 9, 2016.

Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016
“Handmade for the Holidays.” Seasonal program in which visitors can create an ornament through paper quilling. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Mansion house at the John Dickinson Plantation.

Mansion house at the John Dickinson Plantation.

Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016
Christmas Eve. 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.

Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016
Christmas 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, Dec. 26, 2016
Christmas 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.

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.


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