Archive for the ‘Museums’ Category

Current division-sponsored displays

Thursday, February 26th, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

In addition to sponsoring exhibits and special programs at sites across Delaware, the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs creates small displays that provide a brief accent on different aspects of history and culture. Less formal than exhibits, these displays are generally comprised of less than 20 items and provide a compliment to the primary activities available at museums, historic sites, libraries, government buildings, visitor centers and other public places.

William D. Willis photograph of two P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft, part of the display “World War II Through the Lens of William D. Willis” at Legislative Hall.

William D. Willis photograph of two P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft. Part of the display “World War II Through the Lens of William D. Willis” at Legislative Hall.

Following are the division-sponsored displays that are currently on-view at sites across Delaware:

  • March 4, 2015 thru spring 2016
    “World War II Through the Lens of William D. Willis”
    Legislative Hall, 411 Legislative Ave., Dover. Limited visitation hours; call 302-739-9194 before planning a visit. Free admission.

On view over the course of a year, the display will be presented in three succeeding segments, each featuring a different selection of images from The William D. Willis World War II Photographic Collection. The Willis collection includes more than 600 photographs taken by the Dover, Del. native during military service in Western Europe between 1943 and 1945 including images of crash scenes and battle-damaged military aircraft, photos of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp and aerial views of villages in Normandy, France. Willis also photographed the daily procedures of base life as well as United Service Organizations (USO) shows featuring celebrities such as Jack Benny and Ingrid Bergman and a concert by Glenn Miller and his Orchestra. This large photographic collection, of which only approximately 20 images will be featured in each segment of the display, surfaced after Willis’ death and was brought to the division’s attention which accepted it into the permanent collections of the state of Delaware in 2012.

William D. Willis was born on June 14, 1919 in Dover, Del. After graduating from Dover High School in 1939, he worked as a mechanic in an automobile-repair shop in his home town. On May 16, 1941, he entered active duty in the U.S. Army where he received training in Army Air Forces motor mechanics at Fort Devens, Mass. Pfc. Willis served as a mechanic for a year after completing his training and was then transferred to the position of photographic technician with the 9th Photo Technician Unit, taking and developing pictures and handling various phases of laboratory work pertaining to negative processing. He departed for the European Theater of Operations on Aug. 9, 1943 and served there until Sept. 26, 1945. For most of his service, he was attached to the 20th Fighter Group at Kings Cliffe, England.

Photograph of William D. Willis.

Photograph of William D. Willis.

  • Thru April 14, 2015
    “Simple Pleasures: Play and Dance”
    Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Wed.–Sat., 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. from Nov. 1–March 31. Tue.–Sat., 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m.; Sun., 1:30–4:30 p.m. from April 1–Oct. 31. Free admission. 302-645-1148.

Display of original Edwardian and roaring-20s fall and winter fashions that reflect the spirit of the liberated “modern” woman as depicted in the “Downton Abbey” television series. From the collections of the state of Delaware.

 Section of the display “Simple Pleasures: Play and Dance” at the Zwaanendael Museum.

Section of the display “Simple Pleasures: Play and Dance” at the Zwaanendael Museum.

  • Thru April 19, 2015
    “Simple Pleasures: Play and Dance”
    The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Mon.–Sat., 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Sun., 1:30–4:30 p.m. Free admission. 302-744-5055.

Display of original Edwardian and roaring-20s fall and winter fashions that reflect the spirit of the liberated “modern” woman as depicted in the “Downton Abbey” television series. From the collections of the state of Delaware.

  •  Ongoing
    Sculpture by Charles Parks
    New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle. Wed.–Sat., 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Sun., 1:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m. Free admission. 302-323-4453.

The display features depictions of noted historical and political figures including a Minute Man, and presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and George W. Bush. The works compliment the familiar statue of William Penn, also created by Parks, which stands in front of the Arsenal building on Market Street in New Castle.

Over the course of a prolific 50-plus-year career, Charles Parks created more than 500 sculptures for individuals, public parks and plazas throughout Delaware and across the United States. His numerous honors and awards include a Gold Medal for Exemplary Contributions to the Arts from the state of Delaware (1973), the Watrous Gold Medal from the National Academy of Design, the Meiselman Prize for Classical Sculpture from the National Sculpture Society, the Gold Medal from the National Sculpture Society Annual Exhibition and the Tiffany Foundation Award for Creative Sculpture. In 2011, Parks and his wife donated more than 300 of the sculptor’s works to the state of Delaware including bronzes, plasters, woodworks and over 250 fiberglass works ranging in size from eight inches to nine feet from various periods in Parks’ career.

Bust of Richard Nixon by Charles Parks. The work is currently on-display at the New Castle Court House Museum.

Bust of Richard Nixon by Charles Parks. The work is currently on-display at the New Castle Court House Museum.

National Women’s History Month events among 13 special programs sponsored by the division during March 2015

Thursday, February 12th, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

During the month of March 2015, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be offering 13 special programs at sites across the state. Eight of these programs will be presented in celebration of National Women’s History Month. A full schedule of events is listed below. Except where noted, all programs are free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-744-5055.

The achievements of Dr. Ruth Mitchell Laws will be explored in the program “Outstanding Women of Kent County: A Mother’s Legacy and a Daughter’s Contributions to Community” on March 26, 2015.

The achievements of Dr. Ruth Mitchell Laws will be explored in the program “Outstanding Women of Kent County: A Mother’s Legacy and a Daughter’s Contributions to Community” on March 26, 2015.

Highlights of the month include “Outstanding Women of Kent County: A Mother’s Legacy and a Daughter’s Contributions to Community,” a History Coffee-Hour lecture in which Dr. Cherritta Mathews discusses the impact of her mother, Dr. Ruth Mitchell Laws, an educator and former vice president of Delaware Technical Community College. Matthews herself went on to become one of the first students to end segregation at Dover High School in 1954. The program will take place on Thursday, March 26 at 5:30 p.m. at The Old State House, located at 25 The Green, in Dover.

Throughout the month, the John Dickinson Plantation, located at 340 Kitts Hummock Road in Dover, will present “A Woman’s World,” a series of programs that explore the daily responsibilities of 18th-century women and the domestic skills that they were expected to possess. “A Woman’s World” programs will take place between 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on March 7, 21 and 28.

Historic-site interpreters Vertie Lee (left) and Barbara Carrow portray two of the women who lived and worked at the John Dickinson Plantation.

Historic-site interpreters Vertie Lee (left) and Barbara Carrow portray two of the women who lived and worked at the John Dickinson Plantation.

Finally, on Wednesday, March 11 at 7 p.m., the New Castle Court House Museum, located at 211 Delaware St., in New Castle, will present “Louise du Pont Crowninshield—Historic Preservation Pioneer” a presentation by Kim Burdick, advisor emeritus to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, on the life of the well-known preservationist and sister of Henry Francis du Pont of Winterthur. Crowninshield helped lay the groundwork for what would become America’s historic-preservation movement, and her efforts helped preserve the historic town of New Castle.

Designated by joint resolutions of the United States House of Representatives and Senate and proclaimed by six American presidents, National Women’s History Month is an opportunity to honor and celebrate women’s lives and historic achievements. Each year National Women’s History Month employs a unifying theme and recognizes national honorees whose work and lives testify to that theme. For 2015, the theme is “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives.”

Special events, March 2015

Saturday, March 7, 2015
“The Women Who Influenced Victor.” Women’s History Month tours examine the glamorous lives of the many female artists of the Victor Talking Machine Company, accompanied by early recordings of those artists 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. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, March 7, 2015
“A Woman’s World.” Explore cloth production and learn how women lived on the estate of the “Penman of the Revolution.” Women’s History Month program. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturday, March 7, 2015
“War of the Roses: The Suffragist Movement in Delaware.” Women’s History Month living-history theater presentation explores Delaware women who were instrumental in the national suffrage movement. First Saturday in the First State program. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Programs at 1 and 3 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, March 7, 2015
“The Minstrel Boy.” Introductory talk by Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs historical interpreters on the life of the noted Irish tenor John McCormack, accompanied by recordings by the artist played on authentic Victor Talking Machines, followed by the headline program: “Irish Heritage Celebration—Tenor Matt Macis.” Schwartz Center for the Arts, 226 S. State St., Dover. “Minstrel Boy” at 7 p.m. followed by Matt Macis. Admission charge. 302-678-5152.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015
“Louise du Pont Crowninshield—Historic Preservation Pioneer.” Presentation by Kim Burdick, advisor emeritus to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, explores the life of the well-known preservationist and sister of Henry Francis du Pont of Winterthur. Crowninshield helped lay the groundwork for what would become America’s historic-preservation movement, and her efforts helped preserve the historic town of New Castle. Women’s History Month program. New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle. 7 p.m. 302-323-4453.

Saturday, March 14, 2015
“Pi(e) Day at the Plantation.” Celebrate Pi Day by exploring pie recipes from the 1700s and baking pies 18th-century-style. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturday, March 14, 2015
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.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturday, March 14, 2015
Delaware’s Decades—the 2000s. Lecture by Bill Ayrey, lab manager and company historian from ILC Dover, who will discuss the future of space travel and space suits from the early 2000s to the present. Eighth and final installment of a series exploring decades in Delaware’s history. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Program at 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 March 13, 2015.

Thursday, March 19, 2015
Concert by Celtic Harvest. Presented in partnership with the Delaware Friends of Folk. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 7 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, March 21, 2015
“A Woman’s World.” Experience the art of water coloring, view family drawings and paint your own watercolor creation while learning how women lived on the estate of the “Penman of the Revolution.” Women’s History Month program. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015
“History Goes Hollywood: ‘The Women.’ ” Screening of the 1939 film about the lives and power struggles of various wealthy Manhattan socialites, based on the play by Clare Boothe Luce. Program features a short discussion of Luce’s life and accomplishments before the screening. Women’s History Month program. New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle. 7 p.m. 302-323-4453.

Thursday, March 26, 2015
“Outstanding Women of Kent County: A Mother’s Legacy and a Daughter’s Contributions to Community.” Women’s History Month program in which Dr. Cherritta Mathews discusses the impact of her mother, Dr. Ruth Mitchell Laws, an educator and former vice president of Delaware Technical Community College. Matthews herself went on to become one of the first students to end segregation at Dover High School in 1954. Part of the History Coffee-Hour Lecture Series. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. 5:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, March 28, 2015
“A Woman’s World.” Explore the art of paper quilling and learn how women lived on the estate of the “Penman of the Revolution.” Women’s History Month program. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Call for papers: “The Early Colonial Delaware Valley—An Archaeological and Historical Symposium”

Thursday, January 29th, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the Archaeological Society of Delaware, is seeking informal, interdisciplinary presentations on archaeology and cultures of the Delaware Valley which will be presented at “The Early Colonial Delaware Valley—An Archaeological and Historical Symposium” that will take place from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 9, 2015 at the New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., in New Castle, Del.

New Castle Court House Museum

New Castle Court House Museum

Now in its eighth year, the symposium is dedicated to building a regional-level dialog that can identify the uniqueness of the cultures that existed in the Delaware Valley during the early period of European colonization. Persons interested in making a presentation at the symposium should submit an abstract no later than April 24, 2015. Admission to the symposium is free and open to the public. To submit an abstract or to make a reservation to attend the symposium, contact Craig Lukezic at craig.lukezic@state.de.us or call 302-736-7407.

African American History Month programs among 18 special events sponsored by the division during February 2015

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

During the month of February 2015, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be offering 18 special events at sites across the state. Twelve of these events will be presented in commemoration of African American History Month, an annual observance celebrating the invaluable contributions that the black community has made to the culture and history of the United States. Unless otherwise indicated, events are free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-744-5055.

Dr. Gregory Scott will speak at The Old State House on Feb. 7 and 28, 2015.

Dr. Gregory Scott will speak at The Old State House on Feb. 7 and 28, 2015.

Highlights of the month include “Celebrating Love and Family: ‘The Roots of an African-American Family and Community—Star-Hill and the Gibbs Family Legacy,’ ” a lecture by former Delaware State University professor Dr. Gregory Scott about his research on the previously unknown history of Star-Hill, a black community in Kent County that began in the 1880s. The program will also feature former state Rep. Donald Blakey reading original poetry by Solomon Gibbs, a former resident and leader of Star-Hill. The program will take place at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 7 at The Old State House located at 25 The Green, in Dover.

On Saturdays, Feb. 7, 21 and 28, the John Dickinson Plantation, located at 340 Kitts Hummock Road in Dover, will offer special tours exploring the lives of African-Americans who lived in slavery and servitude at the home of John Dickinson, one of the founding fathers of the United States and “Penman of the Revolution.”

Finally, on Saturday, Feb. 21, between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., the Johnson Victrola Museum, located at 375 S. New St. in Dover, will present “Celebrating Love and Family: ‘The Story of Fats Waller,’ ” guided tours that focus on the life and achievements of the noted jazz musician, accompanied by Waller’s Victor recordings played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. At 1 p.m., there will be a lecture on Waller in which several of the musician’s descendents will be in attendance.

“Celebrating Love and Family: ‘The Story of Fats Waller’ ” will take place at the Johnson Victrola Museum on Feb. 21, 2015.

“Celebrating Love and Family: ‘The Story of Fats Waller’ ” will take place at the Johnson Victrola Museum on Feb. 21, 2015.

Special events, February 2015
Note:
Recent program changes are highlighted in brown.

Friday, Feb. 6, 2015
Concert by Bruce Anthony. Jazz guitarist. Presented in partnership with the Delaware Friends of Folk. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 7:30 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015
“Celebrating Love and Family: ‘Paul Robeson’s Family Ties and Contributions.’ ” African American History Month tours focus on the biography and family of bass vocalist Paul Robeson, and his achievements and political views as they pertain to his struggle as a 20th-century black artist. The program will feature Robeson’s Victor recordings 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. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015
“Celebrating Love and Family: ‘Follow the Drinking Gourd.’ ” African American History Month program for children Pre-K through 2nd grade focuses on Delaware’s involvement in the Underground Railroad and its many heroes who helped enslaved people escape to freedom. First Saturday in the First State program. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 11 a.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015
“A World Apart.” African-American-history-based tours. Learn about Dinah and her family and their journey from enslavement to freedom. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015
“Celebrating Love and Family: ‘The Roots of an African-American Family and Community—Star-Hill and the Gibbs Family Legacy.’ ” Lecture by Dr. Gregory Scott about his research on the previously unknown history of Star-Hill, an African-American community in Kent County that began in the 1880s. The program will also feature former state Rep. Donald Blakey reading original poetry by Solomon Gibbs, a former resident and leader of Star-Hill. 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. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015
“Follow the Drinking Gourd.” Interactive program for children Pre-K through 2nd grade focuses on Delaware’s involvement in the Underground Railroad and its many heroes who helped enslaved people escape to freedom. Partnership between the Dover Public Library and the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. Dover Public Library, 35 Loockerman Plaza, Dover. 2 p.m. 302-736-7030.

Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015
“John Dickinson’s 207th Remembrance Day.” Program commemorating the death of John Dickinson explores 18th century mourning practices including a letter written in Dickinson’s memory by then President Thomas Jefferson. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Wreath laying ceremony at Samuel Dickinson’s gravesite at Noon. Program 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015
“Celebrating Love and Family: ‘Finding African-American Families in Kent County—1830–1860.’ ” Presentation by Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs historians Madeline Dunn and Beverly Laing on their recent research that identified the  names of, and cultural resources associated with, African Americans who resided in Murderkill Hundred, Kent County, Del., between 1837 and 1860. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program 1–3 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Inclement weather date: March 14, 2015. Due to space restrictions, reservations are required by calling 302-744-5055. Note: Reservations are no longer required.

Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015
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.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015
“Delaware’s Decades—the 1990s.” Program description TBA. Don Voltz, executive director of the Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame, will discuss the planning and creation of the museum and its inductees. Part seven of an eight-part series exploring decades in Delaware’s history. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Program at 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 Feb. 2 13, 2015. Note updated program information.

Friday, Feb. 20, 2015
McLane and Washington.” Living-history theatrical performance by Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs historical interpreter Tom Welch exploring the relationship between General George Washington and Col. Allen McLane, the Revolutionary War hero from Duck Creek (Smyrna, Del.). Partnership between the division and the Dover Public Library. Dover Public Library, 35 Loockerman Plaza, Dover. 7 p.m. 302-736-7030.

Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015
“Celebrating Love and Family: ‘Follow the Drinking Gourd.’ ” African American History Month program for children Pre-K through 2nd grade focuses on Delaware’s involvement in the Underground Railroad and its many heroes who helped enslaved people escape to freedom. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 11 a.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015
“Stories of Runaway Slaves.” African-American-history-based tours. Learn about three runaway slaves and how they escaped from St. Jones Neck. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015
“Celebrating Love and Family: ‘The Story of Fats Waller.’ ” African American History Month tours focus on the life and achievements of the noted jazz musician, accompanied by Waller’s Victor recordings played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. Program 1–3 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015
“Celebrating Love and Family: ‘The Story of Fats Waller.’ ” African American History Month tours focus on the life and achievements of the noted jazz musician, accompanied by Waller’s Victor recordings played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. Lecture on Waller at 1 p.m. in which several of the musician’s descendants will be in attendance.  Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Free admission. 302-744-5055. Note additional program and starting time.

Friday, Feb. 27, 2015
A Taste of Buena Vista.” Tour one of Delaware’s most historic houses and enjoy hors d’oeuvres and coffee accompanied by harp music. Buena Vista Conference Center, 661 S. Dupont Highway (Route 13), New Castle. 6–9 p.m. Admission $5 in advance by reservation through the Shop Delaware website (go to http://shop.delaware.gov and click the “events” link). 302-323-4430.

Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015
“Celebrating Love and Family: ‘Follow the Drinking Gourd.’ ” African American History Month program for children Pre-K through 2nd grade focuses on Delaware’s involvement in the Underground Railroad and its many heroes who helped enslaved people escape to freedom. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 11 a.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015
“A World Apart.” African-American-history-based tours. Learn about Violet Brown and read her recollections. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015
“Celebrating Love and Family: ‘The African-American Family in Slavery and Freedom—A Celebration of Love.’ ” Lecture by Dr. Gregory Scott on Herbert Gutman’s book The Black Family In Slavery and Freedom: 1750–1925.” The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 1 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

First State National Historical Park to be created

Friday, December 19th, 2014 by Jim Yurasek

In a ceremony held at the New Castle Court House on Dec. 18, 2014, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper and U.S. Rep. John Carney celebrated the imminent creation of Delaware’s first national park which will shine a spotlight on the state’s early Dutch, Swedish and English settlements and its role in the events leading up to the founding of the United States as a nation.

Proposed sites of the First State National Historical Park.

Proposed sites of the First State National Historical Park.

Earlier in the month, the U.S. House of Representatives, followed by the U.S. Senate, passed legislation that authorizes the First State National Monument to be renamed the First State National Historical Park and expands the current national monument to include park sites in all three counties of Delaware. The language that was passed mirrors bills introduced by Sens. Carper and Chris Coons and Rep. Carney—the First State National Historical Park Act of 2013. The approved legislation now goes to President Obama for his signature.

Created in 2013, the First State National Monument is comprised of three historic areas including the state-owned New Castle Court House and Green which are administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs; the Woodlawn property in the Brandywine Valley; and the Dover Green. Monument headquarters (currently closed to the public) are located in the Sheriff’s House, a former division property that was transferred to the federal government in 2013 as part of the process of creating the national monument.

The newly created national historical park will include all of those sites plus the following: Old Swedes Church National Historic Landmark in Wilmington, the Ryves-Holt House in Lewes and two more sites administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs—Fort Christina National Historic Landmark in Wilmington and the John Dickinson Plantation in Dover. The National Park Service will continue to make its headquarters in the Sheriff’s House in New Castle.

The John Dickinson Plantation will be one of the sites added to the First State National Historical Park.

The John Dickinson Plantation will be one of the sites added to the First State National Historical Park.

In a written statement, Sen. Carper noted, “For over a decade, I have been working with federal officials, state officials, community leaders and everyday citizens to establish a national park in Delaware. I thank my colleagues in the House and Senate for approving this legislation. Now, Delaware has a national park that preserves and teaches the lessons of our state’s heritage and our country’s history. I cannot wait for the day when families from all across this country and the world will plan their vacations around the First State National Historical Park to learn how Delaware helped launch the most enduring experiment in democracy that the world has ever known—the United States of America.”

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper speaking at the celebration marking the creation of the First State National Historical Park. Flanking Carper are (left) U.S. Rep. John Carney and Delaware Gov. Jack Markell.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper speaking at the celebration marking the creation of the First State National Historical Park. Flanking Carper are (left) U.S. Rep. John Carney and Delaware Gov. Jack Markell.

For press accounts on the creation of the First State National Historical Park, go to the following:

Delaware celebrates national park…finally
News Journal, Wilmington, Del.—Dec. 18, 2014

Delaware celebrates state’s first national park
WDEL Radio, Wilmington, Del.—Dec. 18, 2014

Delaware Officials Celebrate National Park
ABC News, New York, N.Y.—Dec. 18, 2014

Delaware’s long road to a National Park
Newsworks, WHYY TV 12, Wilmington, Del.—Dec. 18, 2014

Unknowns In Terms Of Funding And Personnel Await New Units Of National Park System
National Parks Traveler, Park City, Utah—Dec. 15, 2014

Delaware national park expansion clears Congress
News Journal, Wilmington, Del.—Dec. 12, 2014

First State now to be home of a National Park
WDDE Radio, Dover, Del.—Dec. 12, 2014

Sen. Carper Addresses Defense Policy Bill
WBOC TV, Salisbury, Del.—Dec. 12, 2014

For Delaware, a national park upgrade
News Journal, Wilmington, Del.—Dec. 8, 2014

Division to sponsor 12 special events during January 2015

Monday, December 8th, 2014 by Jim Yurasek

During the month of January 2015, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be offering 12 special programs at sites across the state. All programs are free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-744-5055.

Commodore Thomas Macdonough

Commodore Thomas Macdonough

Highlights of the month include “Delaware’s Heroes of the Forgotten War,” guided tours exploring how three of Delaware’s military figures—Commodore Thomas Macdonough, Col. Allen McLane and Commodore Jacob Jones—helped keep the young country safe during the War of 1812, and how a Delaware statesman, James A. Bayard Sr., helped negotiate the Treaty of Ghent which ended the conflict. Tours will take place on Saturday, Jan. 3, between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., at The Old State House, located at 25 The Green in Dover.

Commodore Jacob Jones

Commodore Jacob Jones

On Saturday, Jan. 10 at 11 a.m., the Dover Public Library, located at 35 Loockerman Plaza in Dover, will host “Lost By One Vote,” a re-enactment in which Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs historical interpreters Tom Welch and Dennis Fisher take on the personas of prominent Delaware congressmen Nathaniel B. Smithers and James A. Bayard Jr. as they debate President Abraham Lincoln’s Compensated Emancipation Plan of 1862 that would have abolished slavery in Delaware.

Finally, on Saturday, Jan. 17 at 2 p.m., the Zwaanendael Museum, located at 102 Kings Highway in Lewes, will present “Delaware’s Decades—the 1980s: ‘Salvage of His Majesty’s Sloop DeBraak,’ ” a lecture by Claudia Leister, executive director of the Milford Museum, on the 1986 recovery of the British warship DeBraak that sank off the Delaware coast on May 25, 1798. Admission to the lecture is free but, due to space restrictions, reservations are required by calling 302-645-1148 no later than Jan. 5, 2015.

Special events, January 2015

Friday, Jan 2, 2015
Civil-War-era folk music. Performed by Covered Bridge. Presented in partnership with the Delaware Friends of Folk. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 7:30 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015
“Delaware’s Heroes of the Forgotten War.” Guided tours explore how three of Delaware’s military figures kept the young country safe during the War of 1812, and how a Delaware statesman helped in negotiating the Treaty of Ghent which ended the conflict. First Saturday in the First State program. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015
“The Star Spangled Banner: Then and Now.” Guided tours examine the development of America’s national anthem through time with original recordings played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. First Saturday in the First State program. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015
“Follow the Drinking Gourd.” Interactive children’s program focuses on Delaware’s involvement in the Underground Railroad and its many heroes who helped slaves escape to freedom. First Saturday in the First State program. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 11 a.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Wednesdays, Jan. 7, 14, 21 and 28, 2015
“Weaving Wednesdays.” Indoor, staff-led program in which visitors will learn how to weave a blanket or rag rug. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015
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.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015
“Lost By One Vote.” Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs historical interpreters Tom Welch and Dennis Fisher take on the personas of prominent Delaware congressmen Nathaniel B. Smithers and James A. Bayard Jr. as they debate Abraham Lincoln’s Compensated Emancipation Plan of 1862 that would have abolished slavery in Delaware. Partnership between the Dover Public Library and the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. Dover Public Library, 35 Loockerman Plaza, Dover. 11 a.m. 302-736-7030.

Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015
“Delaware’s Decades—the 1980s: ‘Salvage of His Majesty’s Sloop DeBraak.’ ” Lecture by Claudia Leister, executive director of the Milford Museum. Part six of an eight-part series exploring decades in Delaware’s history. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Program at 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. 5, 2015.

Monday, Jan. 19, 2015
“Local Profiles of Courage for the Struggle for Freedom.” Three-part program beginning with a lecture at the Dover Public Library on the Underground Railroad in Delaware, followed by the “Tales of Slavery and Freedom” walking tour and ending with a “Freedom Tour” at The Old State House that highlights the lives of James Summers and Samuel D. Burris. Partnership between the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the Dover Public Library and the First State Heritage Park. Programs begin at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Dover Public Library, 35 Loockerman Plaza, Dover. 302-736-7030.

New displays feature sculpture by Charles Parks and clothing from the “Downton Abbey” era

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014 by Jim Yurasek

The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs has recently created a display of sculpture by the noted Wilmington artist Charles Parks, and a display of fall and winter fashions from the time period depicted in the “Downton Abbey” television series.

Bust of Richard Nixon by Charles Parks. The work is currently on-display at the New Castle Court House Museum.

Bust of Richard Nixon by Charles Parks. The work is currently on-display at the New Castle Court House Museum.

The display of Sculptures by Charles Parks, currently on-view at the New Castle Court House Museum, located at 211 Delaware St. in New Castle, Del., features depictions of noted historical and political figures including a Minute Man, and presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and George W. Bush. The works compliment the familiar statue of William Penn, also created by Parks, which stands in front of the Arsenal building on Market Street in New Castle. The museum is open Wednesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Sunday from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. For additional information, call 302-323-4453.

Statue of William Penn by Charles Parks. The work is on display on Market Street in New Castle, Del.

Statue of William Penn by Charles Parks. The work is on display on Market Street in New Castle, Del.

Over the course of a prolific 50-plus-year career, Charles Parks created more than 500 sculptures for individuals, public parks and plazas throughout Delaware and across the United States. His numerous honors and awards include a Gold Medal for Exemplary Contributions to the Arts from the state of Delaware (1973), the Watrous Gold Medal from the National Academy of Design, the Meiselman Prize for Classical Sculpture from the National Sculpture Society, the Gold Medal from the National Sculpture Society Annual Exhibition and the Tiffany Foundation Award for Creative Sculpture. In 2011, Parks and his wife donated more than 300 of the sculptor’s works to the state of Delaware including bronzes, plasters, woodworks and over 250 fiberglass works ranging in size from eight inches to nine feet from various periods in Parks’ career.

On view through April 14, 2015 at the Zwaanendael Museum, located at 102 Kings Highway in Lewes, Del., “Simple Pleasures: Play and Dance,” features a display of original Edwardian and roaring-20s fall and winter fashions that reflect the spirit of the liberated “modern” woman. The museum is open Wednesdays through Saturdays, between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., from Nov. 1 to March 31; and Wednesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m., and Sundays, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. from April 1 to Oct. 31. For additional information, call 302-645-1148.

Section of the display “Simple Pleasures: Play and Dance” at the Zwaanendael Museum.

Section of the display “Simple Pleasures: Play and Dance” at the Zwaanendael Museum.

“Simple Pleasures” is the third in a series of displays exploring the time period between 1900 and the 1920s—the era depicted in the popular television series “Downton Abbey.” Drawn from the extensive collections of the state of Delaware, the displays feature a wide range of Delaware-related apparel, accessories, art and artifacts. A display of women’s fall and winter fashions and sporting attire, also named “Simple Pleasures: Play and Dance,” is on view through April 19, 2015 at The Old State House, located at 25 The Green, in Dover, Del. The museum is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to –4:30 p.m.; and Sunday from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. For additional information, call 302-744-5055.

The display “Dress for Success: The Edwardian Gentlemen’s Wardrobe and Accessories,” featuring objects of adornment, fall and winter sporting attire, fashion and accessories for male grooming, is on view through March 1, 2015 at Legislative Hall, located at 411 Legislative Ave. in Dover. Due to limited visitation hours, guests should call 302-739-9194 before planning a visit.

Admission for all the displays noted above is free and open to the public.

 

Winter-holiday-themed events among the 15 special programs at division sites in December 2014

Monday, November 17th, 2014 by Jim Yurasek

During the month of December 2014, the museums and historic properties administered by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be offering 15 special programs including eight winter-holiday-themed activities. A full schedule of events is listed below. All programs are free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-744-5055.

Buena Vista mansion will be hosting an open house on Dec. 13, 2014.

Buena Vista mansion will be hosting an open house on Dec. 13, 2014.

Highlights of the month include “Nutcracker Storytime,” a glimpse into the story and characters of Tchaikovsky’s holiday favorite presented by the Ballet Theatre of Dover. The event will take place on Friday, Dec. 5 at 5:30 p.m. at The Old State House, located at 25 The Green, in Dover.

On Saturday, Dec. 13, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., one of Delaware’s most historic homes—the Buena Vista Conference Center south of New Castle—will be decorated for the holidays and will be offering special tours, plus ornament-making activities for children. Intrepid travelers can then make the short trip to old New Castle for the annual Spirit of Christmas in New Castle which includes activities at the New Castle Court House Museum.

Finally, on Dec. 6 and 20, from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Dover’s John Dickinson Plantation will present “Handmade for the Holidays,” hands-on programs in which visitors can learn to create a sachet with herbs and spices (Dec. 6) and create a plaster ornament (Dec. 20).

John Dickinson Plantation historic-site interpreter Barbara Carrow demonstrating plaster casting.

John Dickinson Plantation historic-site interpreter Barbara Carrow demonstrating plaster casting.

Special events, December 2014
Note: Recent program changes are highlighted in brown.

Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014
“Hospitality Night.” 1920s holiday-themed program featuring festive décor, music, demonstrations and seasonal refreshments. Presented in partnership with the Lewes Chamber of CommerceZwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. 6–9 5–8 p.m. 302-645-1148. Note additional program info and time change.

Zwaanendael Museum

Zwaanendael Museum

Friday, Dec. 5, 2014
“Nutcracker Storytime.” Ballet Theatre of Dover to present a condensed version of Tchaikovsky’s holiday favorite provides a glimpse into the story and characters of Tchaikovsky’s ballet “The Nutcracker.” The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 5:30 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Note change in program description.

Friday, Dec. 5, 2014
Dan and James. Folk duo specializing in folk-rock from the 60s and 70s. Presented in partnership with the Delaware Friends of Folk. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 7:30 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014
“Dry as a Martini: Prohibition in Delaware.” Guided tours explore how Delaware and its governments dealt with Prohibition. Stories of bootleggers, speakeasies, gangsters, politicians and federal prohibition agents of 1920s will be featured. First Saturday in the First State program. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014
A Taste of Jazz: From the Beginning.” Guided tours explore the sounds of the Jazz Age and the role played by Delaware’s native son, E.R. Johnson in jazz-music history, accompanied by early-jazz recordings 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. 302-744-5055. Program cancelled.

Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014
“The Victors of World War I: The Power of Music.” Guided tours will explore music’s influence during World War I 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. First Saturday in the First State program. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014
Delaware Day awards ceremony. Event honors participants in the Delaware Department of State’s 13th 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. First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Dover. 10 a.m. 302­–739–4111.

Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014
2014 Holiday Open House at Woodburn: The Governor’s House. Enjoy guided tours of Woodburn, the official residence of Delaware’s governor, and Hall House, the governor’s guest house. 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Woodburn: The Governor’s House, 151 Kings Highway, Dover. 302-739-5656.

Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014
“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. 6, 2014
“Handmade for the Holidays.” Seasonal program in which visitors can create a sachet with herbs and spices. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program at 2:30 p.m. 11–2:30 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277. Note time change.

Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014
“An Illegal Activity.” Utilizing the exhibit “An Illegal Activity: The Underground Railroad in Delaware” as a backdrop, guided tours will explore Delaware’s crucial role in the Underground Railroad and on two Delaware leaders who aided in this “freedom enterprise.” First Saturday in the First State program. First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, Delaware Public Archives building, 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Dover. Tours at Noon and 2 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014
“Simple Pleasures: Picnic, Play and Dance.” Utilizing authentic clothing and objects from the collections of the state of Delaware, Ann Baker Horsey, Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ curator of collections, will discuss Edwardian and Roaring ´20s fall and winter recreational activities and their associated fashions and sporting attire that reflected the spirit of the liberated “modern” woman. 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. Free admission. 302-744-5055. Note change in program title and description.

Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014
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, activities 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. 9:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. 302-328-3279.

Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014
Buena Vista Holiday Open House. One-day-only event featuring tours of one of Delaware’s most historic homes decorated for the holidays plus ornament-making activity for children. Buena Vista Conference Center, 661 S. Dupont Highway (Route 13), New Castle. 10 a.m.–2 p.m. 302-323-4430.

Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014
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.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014
“Handmade for the Holidays.” Seasonal program in which visitors can create a plaster ornament. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 11–2:30 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

“An Illegal Activity: The Underground Railroad in Delaware” exhibit to close on Dec. 7, 2014

Thursday, November 13th, 2014 by Jim Yurasek

Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014 marks the last chance for visitors to enjoy the exhibit “An Illegal Activity: The Underground Railroad in Delaware.” The exhibit, on display at the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, located at 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Dover, Del., has been open since Oct. 16, 2013. Operating hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free. For additional information, call 302-744-5055.

Underground Railroad conductor Samuel D. Burris.

Underground Railroad conductor Samuel D. Burris.

Planned and created by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs in partnership with the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway Management Organization and the Underground Railroad Coalition of Delaware, the exhibit explores the First State’s role in the pre-Civil War network of secret routes and safe houses used by black slaves in the United States to escape to free states and Canada with the aid of abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic to their cause. Focusing on two Delawareans who played important roles in this illegal and clandestine enterprise—Samuel D. Burris and Thomas Garrett—the exhibit explores the actions of a number of brave people who made principled decisions to follow their consciences rather than what they viewed as the unjust laws of the state and nation.

About Samuel D. Burris …
Born on Oct. 16, 1813 in the Willow Grove area near Dover, Del., Samuel D. Burris was the educated son of George Burris, a free-black man. As a conductor on the Underground Railroad, Samuel D. Burris is known to have successfully led several enslaved people from Maryland and Delaware to freedom. After an 1847 attempt to bring a young woman, Maria Matthews, out of Kent County, Del. to Pennsylvania, Burris was found guilty of aiding in the escape of a slave and was fined, sentenced to prison and thereafter sentenced to be sold into slavery. After being “purchased” for $500 by Wilmington abolitionist, Isaac S. Flint, he was taken to Philadelphia where he was reunited with his wife, children and friends. He continued to work for the abolitionist cause until his death in San Francisco in 1863.

About Thomas Garrett …
Thomas Garrett was born on Aug. 21, 1789 to a prominent Quaker family in Upper Darby, Pa. After moving to Wilmington, Del. where he was an iron merchant, Garrett operated as the stationmaster on the last stop of the Underground Railroad in Delaware, collaborating with a number of noted conductors including Harriet Tubman and Samuel D. Burris. He is credited with helping over 2,500 fugitive slaves escape to freedom. In 1848, Garrett was tried in Federal District Court meeting at the New Castle Court House under the jurisdiction of United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney. After being convicted of trespass and debt for aiding and abetting in the escape of runaway-slaves, Garrett was fined several thousand dollars resulting in his financial ruin. Nonetheless, he continued to work for the abolitionist cause. He died in Wilmington in 1871.

Thomas Garrett

Thomas Garrett

 

Zwaanendael Museum to close at noon on Nov. 6, 2014

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 by Jim Yurasek

The Zwaanendael Museum, located at 102 Kings Highway in Lewes, Del., will close at Noon on Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014 for Return Day, a ceremonial holiday held on the Thursday after Election Day in Georgetown, Del. Return Day features the announcement of Delaware’s election results and has become an occasion for extensive festivities. The Zwaanendael Museum will return to its regular hours of operation on Friday, Nov. 7, 2014.

Zwaanendael Museum hours from Nov. 1 to March 31 are Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. From April 1 to Oct. 31, museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and Sunday, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free. For additional information, call 302-645-1148.

Zwaanendael Museum

Zwaanendael Museum

 

Zwaanendael Museum