-Exhibit opening to include full day of colonial-era-themed activities-
“New Castle: Three Forts, One Community,” a new exhibit examining the 17th-century struggle for control of New Castle, Del. by the Dutch, Swedes and English, will open to the public on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017 at the New Castle Court House Museum located at 211 Delaware St. in New Castle, Del.
Between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 9, the museum will celebrate the exhibit opening with a series of activities including Dutch and Swedish re-enactors and encampments; museum and exhibit tours; Swedish craft-activities for children; a walking tour of the site of Fort Casimir; on-board tours of the Kalmar Nyckel, a replica of one of the ships that brought the first Swedish settlers to what is now Delaware; and Dutch-, Swedish- and English-style refreshments. Except for Kalmar Nyckel tours ($5), admission is free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-323-4453.
About the three forts …
Modern-day New Castle traces its origin to the conflict between three great colonial powers—Netherlands, Sweden and England. From 1651 to 1681, these nations vied for control of the Delaware Valley and the profitable trade in natural resources with the region’s American-Indian inhabitants.
In response to the Swedish stronghold (Fort Christina) constructed at present-day Wilmington, the Dutch established a fortified settlement five miles to the south. For the next 30 years, the Dutch, Swedes and English would contest and occupy this outpost. Each nation would enforce its claim through a series of fortifications—Fort Casimir (Dutch), Fort Trinity (Swedish) and Fort New Castle (English).
These forts were an anchoring presence within the developing community and have not been completely lost to time. Archaeological excavations have found the site of Fort Casimir and recovered artifacts which are on display in the exhibit. To this day, the distinct cultural influences of the three colonial powers can still be found in New Castle.
“New Castle: Three Forts, One Community” was created by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ Collections, Affiliates, Research and Exhibits (CARE) Team working together with the staff of the New Castle Court House Museum. The exhibit will be on display for an undetermined period of time. Museum operating-hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and Sundays, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-323-4453.
Constructed in 1732, the New Castle Court House is one of the oldest active court buildings in the United States and was Delaware’s first state capitol. Here, the Colonial Assembly passed the 1776 Separation Resolution creating the Delaware State. During its nearly 300 years of history, this landmark has played many pivotal roles in the political, social and commercial life of both New Castle and Delaware. Administered by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the museum is a partner site in the First State National Historical Park.
The John Dickinson Plantation, located at 340 Kitts Hummock Road in Dover, Del., will be closed on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 26 and 27, 2017, in support of “Thunder Over Dover,” the Dover Air Force Base’s Open House. The Plantation will re-open to the public on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017 according to its normal operating schedule.
On Saturday Aug. 19, 2017 at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., The Old State House, located at 25 The Green in Dover, Del., will present “Doctor Who and William Penn,” a theatrical performance in which the Time Lord once again visits Dover, this time bringing his newest companion, William Penn, all the way from 1704 England. Over the course of the play, Penn discovers that no journey through time and space ever goes smoothly. Admission is free but visitors are encouraged to arrive early to ensure seating. For additional information, call 302-744-5054.
“Doctor Who and William Penn” was created by historic-site interpreters from The Old State House in celebration of the Dover Comic Con comic-book festival that will be held at a variety of Dover locations on Aug. 19, 2017. The play is based on the British science-fiction television program “Doctor Who” which depicts the adventures of a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey who explores the universe in a time-travelling space ship. His companion in the play, William Penn, was the founder of the colony of Pennsylvania who made his first landing in the New World at what is now New Castle, Del. in 1682 and who founded the town of Dover in 1683.
Completed in 1791, The Old State House is one of the oldest existing capitol buildings in the United States. It served as the home of Delaware’s legislature until 1933 when the General Assembly moved to larger quarters in Legislative Hall. The venerable structure now appears as it would have in the late 1700s during the United States’ critical early years as a nation. It features a courtroom, governor’s and county offices and chambers for the state’s Senate and House of Representatives. The building is situated on Dover’s historic Green, a public area laid out in 1717 in accordance with William Penn’s order of 1683. The Green is a partner site in the First State National Historical Park.
By Madeline Dunn, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ historian and National Register of Historic Places coordinator
On July 26, 2017, staff from the State Historic Preservation Office conducted a National Register research workshop at the Delaware Public Archives building in Dover. The workshop helped address one of the goals of Delaware’s statewide historic preservation plan for 2013 to 2017 which calls for expanding opportunities for public education to increase support for historic preservation, and continuing historical-research training for property owners. As part of the workshop, nine attendees, including property owners and volunteers, engaged in research activities associated with historic properties previously designated as potentially eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
Exploring a host of primary-research materials within the extensive collections of the Delaware Public Archives, participants reviewed deeds, wills, probate records, court-case files, education records and U.S. Census information. In addition to examining a myriad of archival records, participants also reviewed a variety of National Register issues including eligibility qualifications and criteria, functions, classifications, a glossary of terms, research requirements, as well as essential research questions. Throughout the day, staff from the Preservation Office assisted attendees with reading and interpreting historical documents while Archives staff helped participants navigate the facility’s archival collections and access miscellaneous resource materials.
Participants from all three counties learned about the rigors of conducting historical research; were impressed with the extensive collections housed within the Delaware Public Archives; and expressed determination to complete their research projects on selected historic properties including a country estate and a private residence in New Castle County, a historic school in Kent County, and a small farm complex and a beach cottage in Sussex County.