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  Archived Posts From: 2014


$1 Million in Grants Now Available for Delaware Historic Properties Damaged by Hurricane Sandy

Written on: January 28th, 2014 in NewsPreservation

The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs is now accepting disaster-relief funding applications for historic properties in the state that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

Satellite image of Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the East Coast of the United States.

Satellite image of Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the East Coast of the United States.

To be eligible for Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Assistance Grants for Historic Properties, a storm-damaged property must be: listed, or eligible for listing, in the National Register of Historic Places; owned by private individuals or organizations (excepting religious entities), local governments or the state; and have documented damage that resulted from the effects of the storm. Repair work funded by the grants must also be consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and in compliance with a number of other state and federal regulations. Already-completed projects may be eligible for funding if they meet applicable requirements.

Applications must be postmarked or submitted no later than March 21, 2014. Successful applicants will receive notification of their awards no later than April 21, 2014.

Go the following for complete information on Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Assistance Grants for Historic Properties:

Summary of Information

Program Guidelines and Application

Electronic Application

Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Assistance Grants for Historic Properties are funded under the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013, a $50.7 billion package of disaster assistance largely focused on responding to the effects of the destructive hurricane which struck the East Coast of the United States in late October 2012. The hurricane prompted major disaster declarations in the District of Columbia and 12 states, including Delaware. As part of the act, Congress appropriated $50 million to cover the costs of preserving and/or rehabilitating historic properties damaged by the storm. Subsequently, $1 million was allocated for Delaware’s component of the program which is being administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ State Historic Preservation Office.

For additional information about Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Assistance Grants for Historic Properties, contact the following:

Overall program administration
Gwen Davis, deputy state historic preservation officer, 302-736-7410 or gwen.davis@delaware.gov

Program and grant management
Joan Larrivee, architectural historian, 302-736-7406 or joan.larrivee@delaware.gov

National Register of Historic Places questions
Madeline Dunn, historian, 302-736-7417 or madeline.dunn@delaware.gov

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Division Releases Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2015 to 2019

Written on: January 27th, 2014 in MuseumsNewsPreservation

On Jan. 27, 2014, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs released its fiscal year 2015 to 2019 strategic plan which maps the agency’s vision and direction for the next five years. Go to the following to read the executive summary and the full plan.

Hca Strategic Plan Fy15-fy19 Cover

The “Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs Strategic Plan FY15/FY19” was developed between May and December 2013 by the agency’s 14-member strategic planning team with consultation and facilitation provided by Max Van Balgooy, president and founder of Engaging Places, LLC. In addition, the division’s entire staff, as well as volunteers, partners and affiliates, made significant contributions to the development and realization of the plan.

Planning activities included all-staff meetings, small group meetings with a representative cross-section of division staff and planning-team sessions, augmented by e-surveys which were distributed to staff and partners to collect insights regarding planning-element drafts and objectives.

The more than 2,500 collective hours that were logged during the planning process resulted in the development of a new mission statement and eight core-values that will guide the division in implementing the plan’s five goals, 16 objectives and 63 action items.

As division director Tim Slavin noted in his introduction, “This plan represents a consensus of passion and insight that will make the next five years some of the most expansive and engaging in the agency’s forty-four-year history. It prepares staff with the resources and vision to mark fifty years of excellence in 2020 with new standards in service and stewardship that promise to ‘Save Delaware History’ for future generations.”

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New Book, Wilmington: Preservation and Progress, Available at the Division’s Online History Store

Written on: January 24th, 2014 in NewsPreservation

“Wilmington: Preservation and Progress,” a new book published in 2013 by Delaware photographer Gene Castellano, is now available for purchase at the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ online history store.

Cover of the book, "Wilmington: Preservation and Progress."

A “then and now” photographic history of the architecture of Wilmington, Del.’s business district between 1984 and today, the publication features black and white images from the past paired with color images of the present, accompanied by historical information about each of the featured locations. Several of the buildings showcased in the book were rehabilitated with assistance from Delaware’s Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program including the Central Brach YMCA, the Delaware Trust Building, the Queen Theater and the assemblage of buildings between 400 and 426 N. Market St. that is featured on the book’s cover.

Describing the time period covered in the publication, Castellano noted, “During the eighties, Wilmington was bursting with optimism and anxious to reinvent itself from a 19th century manufacturing city into a 20th century financial center. Armed with progressive new legislation designed to make Delaware more attractive to credit card banks, ranks of public officials, businessmen and developers eagerly sought to transform the city. Their efforts met many challenges and setbacks, but eventually, progress was achieved. Although many of the buildings from that era met the wrecking ball and were replaced with modern office towers, others survived with tasteful preservation.”

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Emergency Undertakings Shed Light on Delaware’s Historic Dikes

Written on: January 24th, 2014 in ArchaeologyHistoric SitesNewsPreservation

The following article appeared in the Jan. 10, 2014 edition of NCSHPO News, an e-news publication of the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers.

The Delaware State Historic Preservation Office (within the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs) worked very closely with Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), the New Castle Conservation District, and the US Army Corps of Engineers (Philadelphia Region) to bring to successful resolution several very complex, high profile, cases involving the rehabilitation of dikes in and around the City of New Castle. Due to storm damage that had already occurred, and continued threat of future such events to impact private property (including a National Historic Landmark district) and environmental hazards, DNREC was pressed to rebuild and/or extend all the dikes on a highly expedited schedule. Close coordination among state and federal agencies, consultants, and interested members of the public ensured those goals were met, while in compliance with Section 106.

Aerial view of a section of the Broad Marsh Dike.

Aerial view of a section of the Broad Marsh Dike.

Through this process, a historic context was developed against which the dikes were evaluated and found eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The research produced significant insights into this type of historic structure, establishing that dikes are one of the oldest landscape elements on our coast, and that their construction and constant rebuilding in the same location is a tradition that is 350 years old in Delaware. Information on DNREC’s Coastal Resiliency Action Plan for the City of New Castle, and drafts of the cultural resource survey reports are posted on DNREC’s webpage. Monitoring of construction work on the Broad Marsh Dike is scheduled for January 2014, and may yield additional information on this historic structure.

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Division Welcomes Two New Staff Members

Written on: January 24th, 2014 in MuseumsNews

During the month of January 2014, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs welcomed two new members to its staff—Charity DeGeorge and Latecia Prophet.

Magnolia, Del. resident Charity DeGeorge comes to the division after a 20-year career in the United States Air Force where she attained the rank of technical sergeant. Her work as an aircraft-engine maintenance mechanic took her to overseas deployments in Kyrgyzstan and Qatar and several assignments across the country including Dover Air Force Base. Originally from Sterling, Mass., DeGeorge joined the Air Force immediately after graduating from high school. The technical training that she received in the military provided her with a wide skill-set including the ability to disassemble and completely rebuild complex jet-engines including those utilized on A-10, F-16 and C-17 aircraft, and her subsequent career as a mechanic contributed to the safe transport of countless numbers of military personnel. DeGeorge’s job as a housekeeper with the division is her first position since retiring from the Air Force.

Charity DeGeorge

Charity DeGeorge

Historic-site interpreter Latecia Prophet is no stranger to the division’s downtown Dover museums. From 2007 to 2009, she worked at those same sites, particularly The Old State House, where her research dug deep into local African-American history including the life of Underground Railroad conductor Samuel D. Burris. Born and raised in New York City, Prophet first visited Dover when her daughter was a student at Delaware State University. Liking the quality of life that she saw there, Prophet moved to Delaware’s capital city in 1997. In 2007, when she originally applied to work for the division, her interest was based, in part, on what she would be able to learn about the history of her adopted city and state. Now, seven years later, she is passionate about sharing her knowledge with young people so that they can understand how local history impacts their everyday lives.

Latecia Prophet

Latecia Prophet

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Cooch-dayett Mills: Discovering Delaware History Through Partnerships

Written on: January 6th, 2014 in EducationHistoric Sites

By: David H. Pragoff
School and Group Programs Team Leader
Delaware Nature Society

Located south of Newark near the corner of Old Baltimore Pike and Route 72, Cooch-Dayett Mills is one of the last remaining water-powered mills in Delaware and a reminder of a bygone era.

Mills were a vital part of colonial society.  They served as centers of commerce and socialization for the surrounding community.  Farmers depended upon the specialized machinery in mills to cut timber for lumber or, as with Cooch-Dayett, to process wheat and corn from their fields into flour and cornmeal to be used as food for people and animals as well as to sell.

The mill building at Cooch-Dayett Mills was originally constructed in the 1830s by William Cooch, Jr. however there is evidence of mill activity on the site as early as the 1720s.  The property was well suited for milling in the pre-industrial era using flowing water from the nearby Christina River as a power source to run the machinery.

Undated Historic View of Mill

Water from the river was diverted through a man-made channel or “race” just north of Cooch’s Bridge.  The race directed water past the mill and turned a water wheel before rejoining the Christina.

A system of gears and pulleys connected the water wheel to the equipment inside the mill.  Mechanisms in the mill carried wheat and corn up and down the four floors of the building and moved it through stages of processing to become flour or cornmeal.  Oliver Evans, a Delaware native from Newport, is credited with designing the interconnected machines that allowed one person to successfully operate a mill with several floors of equipment running simultaneously.

Cooch-Dayett Mills survived two fires and was rebuilt, updated and retrofitted over the years enabling the facility to remain in operation into the 1980s.  The State of Delaware purchased the mill, adjacent structures and surrounding property in 1996 to preserve this special cultural resource and with the intent of developing the site as a museum.  The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs assumed control of the facilities and property and has performed significant work cleaning up the site from years of industry and also preserving and stabilizing the aging structure.  The Division, however, did not have the capacity to keep the site open and accessible to the public.


Enter the Delaware Nature Society.  Through a partnership with the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, Delaware Nature Society (DNS) has opened the doors at Cooch-Dayett Mills and is actively using the Mill and surrounding property for education programs.  School students and Scout groups visit to participate in hands-on programs that explore the water cycle, how water is used by wildlife and by people, and the means by which people harness the power of moving water to do work.  The specialized machinery in the mill also provides the opportunity for students to investigate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) principles in practice as they search the first floor of the Mill for various simple machines and discover how they worked.

Cooch-dayett Mills18 October  2007 2 049

Cooch-Dayett Mills is open to the public on select days throughout the year and to school and scout groups by appointment.

Cooch-dayett Mills18 October  2007 2 053

The partnership between the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs and the Delaware Nature Society extends beyond Cooch-Dayett Mills.  DNS also operates the Abbott’s Mill Nature Center in Milford, a second historic mill owned by the Division.  As with Cooch-Dayett, Abbott’s Mill offers education programs for families, scout troops and school groups, but while Cooch-Dayett Mills is open only on select dates and by appointment, Abbott’s Mill operates a visitor center and maintains public hiking trails.  The mill at Abbott’s is operational and open house ‘Running of the Mill’ days are held on select Saturdays from June through November and include guided tours of the mill.

Cooch-dayett Mills18 October  2007 2 076

For more information about the Delaware Nature Society or program opportunities at Cooch-Dayett Mills or the Abbott’s Mill Nature Center, visit www.delawarenaturesociety.org.

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