On July 29, 2014, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs announced three awards for the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Assistance Grants for Historic Properties program and is seeking public comment on its finding that the selected projects will not adversely affect historic properties.
The grant program is funded under the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in response to the effects of the destructive hurricane which struck the East Coast of the United States in late October 2012. As part of the act, $50 million was appropriated to the National Park Service to cover the costs of preserving and/or rehabilitating historic properties damaged by the storm. Subsequently, the National Park Service allocated $1 million for Delaware’s component of the program which is being administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. The purpose of the program is to help return damaged historic properties to useful condition, preserving the state’s cultural heritage for future generations.
The division publicly announced the availability of the grants and posted information on the program in January 2014. To qualify, properties were required to be listed, or eligible for listing, in the National Register of Historic Places, and have documented damage that resulted from the effects of the storm. Eligible properties included those owned by private individuals or organizations, local governments, or the state.
The division received three applications. A technical-review committee found that all three of the applications qualified for funding according to the selection criteria and application requirements. Because the currently approved applications did not exhaust the full amount of funds awarded to Delaware, the division may elect to hold another round of grant applications. Additionally, in accordance with its agreement with the National Park Service, the division plans to apply some of the remaining funds toward improving data on the location and nature of historic properties in areas vulnerable to such storm events, assisting in disaster planning.
The three historic properties that will be assisted by the program are as follows:
Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse
Location: Situated on the outer breakwater in Lewes harbor
Historical significance: Listed in the National Register in 1989 as a contributing structure within the National Harbor of Refuge and Delaware Breakwater Harbor Historic District, a nationally significant aid-to-navigation and safe harbor
Storm damage: Results of wind-driven water and waves
Federal grant: Up to $360,000
Scope of work: Replacement of dock and stairs leading to lighthouse; assessment of condition of lighthouse
Historic-preservation outcome: The grant-funded work will define the critical preservation work necessary to maintain and preserve the lighthouse, and will restore proper access to allow such work to occur and to further the organization’s public interpretation and educational programming
Milford New Century Club
Location: 18 N. Church St., Milford
Historical significance: Individually listed in the National Register in 1982 as part of a multiple-property nomination for the city of Milford, the building is significant for its architecture and as a long-standing community center, a purpose it still serves
Storm damage: Results of high wind, wind-driven rain and rising water
Federal grant: Up to $60,000
Scope of work: Replacement of roof and associated interior and exterior repairs; exterior painting and associated repairs; replacement of HVAC system
Historic-preservation outcome: The grant-funded work will secure the building’s exterior to prevent further damage and deterioration, and will allow the building to again be used year-round for the organization’s civic projects and rental for local events
Phillips Potato House
Location: 7472 Portsville Road, Laurel
Built: Circa 1900
Historical significance: Individually listed in the National Register in 1990 as part of a multiple-property nomination for sweet potato houses, a specialized agricultural outbuilding in Sussex County. The potato houses reflect the modernization of agricultural practices in southern Delaware during the first half of the 20th century including the emergence of truck farming
Storm damage: Results of high wind, wind-driven rain and water run-off
Federal grant: Up to $42,000
Scope of work: Removal of damaged asphalt siding and repair of wood siding and trim; window repair; removal of metal roofing and restoration of wood shingles; foundation repairs
Historic-preservation outcome: The grant-funded work will secure the building’s exterior to prevent further damage and deterioration, and provide an opportunity for returning the building to agricultural use and/or for an adaptive reuse to include public interpretation of agricultural practices
In order to receive funding, the grantees must ensure that the repair work is consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, and must maintain and preserve the properties for a period of time thereafter. Grantees must also document that consulting and contractual services have been open to competitive bidding and selected in accordance with state and federal law. Grantees must also comply with a number of other reporting requirements to demonstrate that the project is properly carried out. These commitments are documented in a grant agreement that is signed by the division and the grantee.
The division has received the National Park Service’s approval to award these three grants on the condition that all program requirements are being met including compliance with federal historic preservation and environmental laws. Because the program is federally-funded, Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires that the projects’ effects on historic properties are taken into account. Section 106 also affords local governments, interested parties and the public the opportunity to comment on the projects. For more information on this law and the public’s role in the review process, go to the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation’s publication, “Protecting Historic Properties: A Citizen’s Guide to Section 106 Review.”
To fulfill its Section 106 responsibilities, the National Park Service has negotiated a programmatic agreement with the 12 states affected by Hurricane Sandy. This agreement will govern the project-review process for the states’ grant programs, including provisions for public notification and involvement in the program. The agreement also prohibits use of the funds for work that would adversely affect historic properties.
The division finds that the projects will not adversely affect historic properties because:
To comment on this finding, or to request additional information about the grant program, the Section 106 review process, or the programmatic agreement, contact Gwen Davis, deputy state historic preservation officer, at 302-736-7410 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments must be received by Aug. 29, 2014.
Press inquiries should be directed to Jim Yurasek at 302-736-7413 or email@example.com.
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.
One of southern Delaware’s most iconic structures, the Fenwick Island Lighthouse, will commemorate two anniversaries during August 2014—Friday, Aug. 1, will mark the 155th anniversary of the official lighting of the historic beacon; while National Lighthouse Day will be celebrated on Thursday, Aug. 7. The lighthouse, located at the intersection of 146th St. and Lighthouse Lane in Fenwick Island, Del., is open from 9 a.m. to Noon, Fridays to Mondays, during July and August; and 9 a.m. to Noon on Saturdays and Sundays from Sept. 1 to 22. The property is cared for and operated for public visitation by the New Friends of the Fenwick Island Lighthouse. For additional information, call 443-235-8521.
About the Fenwick Island Lighthouse …
Completed in 1858, the 87-foot-tall Fenwick Island Lighthouse was built to help mariners avoid the treacherous Fenwick Shoals which are located six miles off the coast of Fenwick Island. Erected during a period of rapid expansion and improvement in the nation’s system of aids to navigation, the structure is the only brick, conical-type lighthouse ever built in the state. After completion, a third-order Fresnel lens of French manufacture was installed and the light was turned on for the first time on Aug. 1, 1859. The lighthouse continued in operation without interruption for nearly 120 years until Dec. 13, 1978, when it was decommissioned by the U. S. Coast Guard. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Due to a grassroots effort, ownership of the property was transferred to the state of Delaware in 1981, and the lighthouse was re-lit in 1982 as an unofficial, private aid to navigation.
The lighthouse’s grounds contain the Transpeninsular Line marker, erected on April 26, 1751, which indicates the eastern end of the line surveyed by John Watson and William Parsons of Pennsylvania and John Emory and Thomas Jones of Maryland. This line established the east-west boundary between Pennsylvania’s three lower counties (now Delaware) and the colony of Maryland. It also established the middle point of the peninsula, 35 miles to the west. The stone marker bears the coat of arms of the Calvert family on the south side and the Penn family on the north. It was accepted in 1760 and finally ratified in 1769 by King George III.
On Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014, between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., the four Dover-area museums operated by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be presenting interactive, history-related activities developed by a group of incoming freshmen from Delaware State University. Activities will take place at the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, located in the Delaware Public Archives building at 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.; at the John Dickinson Plantation, located at 340 Kitts Hummock Road; at the Johnson Victrola Museum, located at 375 S. New St.; and at The Old State House, located at 25 The Green. Admission to all programs is free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-744-5055.
These one-day-only public offerings are being developed as a partnership between the division’s Volunteer Program and Delaware State University’s Jumpstart Program, an academic-enrichment and leadership-development initiative that provides opportunities for first-time freshmen to get a “jumpstart” on their college careers.
As part of the partnership, the 28 participating students were divided into teams of seven members each with a separate team assigned to each of the four museums. During the activity-development process, which took place during July 2014, team members were given free rein to discuss any topic related to their respective museum’s history or exhibits and to develop enjoyable and educational activities that provide museum visitors with fresh perspectives on Delaware history. The partnership gave students a unique opportunity to experience how museums develop public programming through efficient time-management, teamwork, critical thinking and creativity—valuable skills that the students will need as they move forward in their lives.
For additional information about the partnership, contact Deanna Rishell, the division’s volunteer services coordinator, at 302-736-7411 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For generations, vacationers have been drawn to Delaware’s Atlantic Ocean resorts—Lewes, Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island. Located within 250 miles of several of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas including Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York City, the First State’s coastal towns offer the cleanest beach-water in the nation, a plethora of dining options, arts and entertainment activities, recreational opportunities, natural areas, state parks, night life and tax-free shopping among many other amenities.
As the location of Delaware’s first colony and one of the earliest European settlements in America—Swanendael, established by the Dutch in present-day Lewes in 1631—the coastal region also features a wealth of historic sites that help tell Delaware’s story and the role that it played in the creation and development of the United States. Many of these sites are open for visitation, offering high-quality experiences for every type of vacationer from families looking for rainy-day activities to dedicated cultural tourists and history buffs.
Following is a sampling of some of the historic places that can be visited within a 20-mile radius of Delaware’s Atlantic Ocean beaches. Hours of operation and other information can be found on each site’s webpage.
De Vries Monument
Pilottown Road, Lewes, Del.
Telephone: Call the Zwaanendael Museum at 302-645-1148
Delaware’s Colonial history began near this site which commemorates Swanendael, meaning “Valley of the Swans,” established by the Dutch in 1631 as a whale-hunting and agricultural station. The monument, located along the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal (originally called Hoorn Kill), is named for David Pietersz de Vries, general administrator of the Swanendael colony.
102 Kings Highway, Lewes, Del.
Operated by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the museum was built in 1931 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the state’s first European colony, Swanendael. Modeled after the town hall in Hoorn, the Netherlands, the museum’s exhibits and presentations provide a showcase for Lewes-area maritime, military and social history. Currently on-display are the exhibits “Delaware and the War of 1812” which examines the service and sacrifice of Delawareans of 1812 to 1815; and “A Seaborne Citizenry: The DeBraak and Its Atlantic World” which explores His Majesty’s Sloop of War DeBraak, a British warship that sank off the Delaware coast on May 25, 1798. On most Mondays through Sept. 29, 2014, the museum is also offering lecture/tours of DeBraak which include a trip to nearby Cape Henlopen State Park for a curator-led tour of the surviving section of the ship’s hull.
As the administrator of many of the state’s most important historic sites, the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs leases the following properties to community organizations that in turn, operate them for public visitation.
Delaware Breakwater East End Lighthouse
Surrounded by water, the lighthouse is located on the inner breakwater in Lewes harbor.
The lighthouse was built in 1885 as a navigational aid for ships entering the Delaware Bay. It is currently closed to visitation. Cruises to the waters surrounding the structure are conducted by the Delaware River & Bay Lighthouse Foundation.
Fenwick Island Lighthouse
Located at the intersection of 146th St. and Lighthouse Lane, Fenwick Island, Del.
Operated by the New Friends of the Fenwick Island Lighthouse.
Built in 1858 to protect shipping from the Fenwick sand shoals that extend several miles out from the Delaware coast, the lighthouse sits exactly on the eastern origin of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Old Sussex County Court House
10 S. Bedford St., Georgetown, Del.
Operated by the Georgetown Historical Society. Open 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturdays through Sept. 27, 2014. Other times by appointment.
In 1791, 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 1793, the building now known as the Old Sussex County Court House was constructed in Georgetown to meet the exact dimensions of the former county court house in Lewes. In 1837, the building was moved from its original location on Georgetown Circle to make way for the current court house which still occupies the site.
Prince George’s Chapel
101 Chapel Lane, Dagsboro, Del.
Operated by the Friends of Prince George’s Chapel. Open by appointment.
Built in 1755 as an Anglican chapel-of-ease, the structure was named in honor of the English prince who would later become King George III. Its most distinctive feature is a barrel-vaulted ceiling made of natural, unadorned heart-of-pine planks.
Other attractions featuring Delaware history that are located within 20 miles of Delaware’s beaches include the Bethany Beach History Museum, DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum, Fort Miles Historical Area in Cape Henlopen State Park, Indian River Life-Saving Station, Lewes Historical Society, Lightship Overfalls, Milton Historical Society, Nanticoke Indian Museum, Nutter D. Marvel Carriage Museum, Ocean View Historical Society, Rehoboth Art League, Rehoboth Beach Museum and the Treasures of the Sea exhibit. In addition, the towns of Lewes and Milton contain historic districts that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
On June 30, 2014, Chuck Fithian, Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ curator of archaeology, left the agency after a 28-year tenure. Beginning in August he will begin a new career-chapter as a lecturer in anthropology at Washington College in Chestertown, Md. The following article explores one of the passions that Fithian developed during his years of service at the division—his work in the conservation and documentation of His Majesty’s Sloop of War DeBraak, a British vessel that sank off the Delaware coast on May 25, 1798.
When Chuck Fithian began full-time work as site supervisor of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ Island Field Museum and Research Center in July 1986, he felt well on the way to cementing his career as a professional historian and archaeologist. Not only was he managing the museum, the site of a 1,000-year-old Native American burial ground, he was also responsible for the curation of the state’s substantial archaeological collections which were then housed at the museum.
Fithian had certainly come a long way since his graduation in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in history from Salisbury State College in his hometown of Salisbury, Md. After a number of youthful work experiences, he had served, between 1981 and 1986, as an interpreter and then as an archaeologist at Historic St. Mary’s City, a museum of history and archaeology located in Maryland’s first capital. Along the way, he met his wife Diane, who he married in 1984. Now the couple had moved to Delaware and were in the process of building their lives together. It seemed like things could not get any better—but then they did!
In August 1986, one month after Fithian started his new job, a private salvage company raised the hull of the 18th-century British sloop of war DeBraak from the ocean floor off Lewes, Del. While the operation was a bust for the owners of the salvage company who had anticipated recovering stores of gold and silver, it was a find of the highest order for archaeologists and historians. Altogether, more than 20,000 artifacts were recovered from the shipwreck site including approximately one-third of the ship’s lower hull. After maintaining passive custody of this collection between 1986 and 1992, the state of Delaware purchased it outright from the salvage company in 1992.
Fithian could not believe his good fortune. He had long held an interest in British and American naval history and suddenly, out of nowhere, he had direct access to one of the most important collections of 18th-century Royal Navy artifacts anywhere in the world. He had found a passion that would occupy him for the next 28 years.
Fithian jumped into the project, working tirelessly with his division colleagues to conserve and document the collection. One particularly daunting problem was the conservation of the ship’s hull which had been preserved for almost 200 years on the ocean floor by submersion in cold water and burial in sand. If the hull’s water-logged timbers had been allowed to dry, their cellular structure would have collapsed causing them to break apart. The solution was to immerse the hull in water, and later, to devise a hydration system that sprayed it at regular intervals, keeping it saturated and preventing its wooden components from disintegration.
In addition to conservation, Fithian led the division’s efforts in researching the history of the ship and its context in the late-18th century Atlantic World. This research, which has continued over the past 28 years, helped burnish Fithian’s reputation as one of the region’s foremost experts on 18th and early-19th century British and American naval history. In addition to welcoming scholars from all over the world to the DeBraak’s conservation facilities, Fithian hosted Peter Weir, director of the 2003 historical film “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,” which depicts Napoleonic-era naval warfare. Fithian became a consultant for the film which went on to win two Academy Awards.
Beginning in 2011, Fithian led division efforts to further enhance the long-term conservation and preservation of DeBraak including the creation of an improved support-system to contain the hull and the addition of a filtration system that regularly cleans the water used to keep the hull wet. These improvements made it possible for the state of Delaware to begin offering public tours of the DeBraak hull in June 2012. True to form, Fithian led the tours of the hull from their inauguration until his last day of work at the division on June 30, 2014.
In the process of conducting these tours, Fithian discovered that he had a heretofore unrecognized talent and passion for teaching. He loved how his knowledge and experience could be used to transport people back to an earlier era, and he was gratified to see how his work could inspire people to appreciate the value of history and archaeology. With one door closing, another was opening for him.
In August 2014, Fithian will continue this new chapter in his life at Washington College where he will be teaching an introductory course on environmental archaeology “and any other courses that they want me to do.” In addition to teaching, he’ll be able to spend more time in research, and in documenting and publishing the results of his 30-plus year career as a historian and archaeologist. One thing won’t change however—his passion for the DeBraak. He plans to continue conducting research on the vessel and to volunteer weekly in its ongoing conservation.
Chuck Fithian had many other accomplishments during his tenure with the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. Any one of these could have been the subject of a full article. Following is only a partial listing of his many achievements: Research on the material-culture and social history of Colonial- and Revolutionary War-era America; survey of Delaware sites related to the War of 1812; and research and consultation on the design of the Delaware Continental-soldier memorial in Dover, Del., and the monument at Gettysburg National Military Park commemorating the contributions of the 1st and 2nd Delaware infantry regiments. Fithian holds a Master in History from Salisbury University and is the recipient of that institution’s Wroten Award which honors individuals that have made a significant contribution to written scholarship about the colonial Eastern Shore.
EXHIBIT CLOSED June 30, 2016
The contributions of Middletown, Del.’s military veterans from the Revolutionary War to the present were explored in the exhibit, “Middletown Goes to War,” that was on display from May 23, 2014 to June 30, 2016 at the Middletown Historical Society, located at 216 N. Broad St. in Middletown, Del.
Utilizing personal stories, photographs, mementos and artifacts supplied by community members, as well as period items loaned from the collections of the state of Delaware, the exhibit examined the contributions of this small Delaware town to the American war effort, and shined a spotlight on what the Middletown Historical Society’s lead exhibit-researcher George Contant described as “everyday people doing incredible things, and some doing astounding things.”
“Middletown Goes to World War” was planned and created as a collaborative partnership between the Middletown Historical Society and the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. The partnership is one of several in which the division has participated in recent years as part of its Affiliates Program which utilizes professionals from the division staff—including exhibit designers, curators, editors, museum managers, trades-people, archaeologists and historians—who work with history- and heritage-based organizations throughout Delaware to develop joint programs and exhibits, including potential display of items from the state’s collections.
Prior to the development of the “Middletown Goes to World War” exhibit, division staff members consulted with representatives of the Middletown Historical Society on gallery design, and on safety and security issues. Once the process of creating the exhibit had begun, the division’s Collections, Affiliates, Research and Exhibits (CARE) Team provided lead-researcher Contant with access to the state’s collections for study and for selecting items that would be loaned for inclusion in the exhibit including, among many others, a Revolutionary War era musket, a Civil-War-era sword, a World-War-I-era military snare-drum and a German field-blouse from World War II. Finally, the CARE Team designed, fabricated and installed the exhibit in the society’s gallery located in the Academy Building in downtown Middletown.
In an article that appeared in the Middletown Transcript on May 29, 2014, Middletown Historical Society Vice President Dave Matsen praised the division for its contributions to the exhibit noting, “They did an absolutely fantastic job. It’s a first-class effort. I was absolutely amazed. It makes all the sense in the world to pool resources and use their design experience to help local groups like ours. We’ve supplied artifacts and local stories, but we could not have created the displays like they’ve done. We couldn’t put on anything by ourselves that looks this beautiful.”
Since its inception in 2010, the division’s Affiliates Program has been a great success in creating new opportunities for the division to serve the public in communities where it has not previously had a presence. The program helps fulfill the division’s mission by increasing accessibility to state-owned historic sites and collections that might not otherwise be open to the public, enhancing leisure and educational opportunities for the state’s citizens and visitors, stimulating tourist visitation leading to economic growth and job creation and expanding public awareness of the importance of preserving and protecting Delaware’s historical and cultural legacy.
In addition to the Middletown exhibit, recent projects include the addition of new interpretive panels at the maritime and shipbuilding exhibit that the CARE Team had originally created for the Bethel Historical Society in 2012; installation of an exhibit at the Dover Public Library featuring works from the state-owned Norma Varisco de García Collection of Hispanic Art; graphic design and the loan of items for the Rehoboth Beach Historical Society’s “Crusin’” exhibit; the loan of items to the Presbyterian Church of Dover; and the mounting of a display of works from the 6th Annual Lt. Governor’s Art Contest.
Other organizations that have participated in the Affiliates Program, or that have worked in partnership with the division, include the Delaware Historical Society, Delaware Welcome Center Travel Plaza, Friends of Belmont Hall, Historic Odessa Foundation, Laurel Historical Society, Lewes Historical Society, New Castle Historical Society, Ocean View Historical Society, Rehoboth Art League, the Schwartz Center for the Arts, Seaford Historical Society, Smyrna Rest Stop and the Underground Railroad Coalition of Delaware.
The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs has issued the following notice of public comment regarding amendments to the regulations governing the state’s Historic Preservation Tax Credit program. The deadline for submission of comments is July 30, 2014.
Notice of Public Comment: PLEASE TAKE NOTICE, pursuant to 29 Del.C., Ch. 101, the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs proposes to amend rules and regulations pursuant to its authority under 30 Del.C. §1815(b). The Division will receive and consider all written comments on the proposed rules and regulations related to implementation of amendments to the Historic Preservation Tax Credit Act. Submit comments to Timothy A. Slavin, Director, Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, 21 The Green, Dover, DE 19901. The final date to submit comments is July 30, 2014.
Amendments to the Regulations Governing the Historic Preservation Tax Credit
The Historic Preservation Tax Credit Act (30 Del.C. Ch. 18, Subch. II) is designed to promote community revitalization and redevelopment through the rehabilitation of historic property by providing tax credits for expenditures made to rehabilitate a certified historic property. It was first enacted by the General Assembly in 2001 and was amended in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2010. Program regulations were adopted on July 11, 2002 (6 DE Reg. 108 published 07/01/02), and were amended on July 11, 2004 (8 DE Reg. 194 published on 07/01/04), on Jan. 11, 2005 (8 DE Reg. 1031 published 01/01/05), and on Oct. 11, 2010 (14 DE Reg. 485, published 11/01/10).
The 2014 amendments to the legislation provide for revisions to §1816(a) to set aside a portion of the available tax credits for projects located in Downtown Development Districts. The purpose of the following proposed regulatory amendments is to implement the code changes of 2014 and to clarify or to make minor editorial changes to various sections of the regulations. The proposed amendments address the changes to the way in which credits are awarded under this program in new section 7.9 with an associated definition added to section 3.0. As to the clarification of the regulations, the proposed amendments modify seven sections of the regulations (3.0, 5.8, 7.2, 7.4-7.8 and 11.1) and editorial changes have been made to twelve sections of the regulations (1.0, 3.0, 4.5., 5.8, 6.1-6.5, 7.1, 7.3 and 8.1).
Go to the following for the full text of the 2014 proposed amendments to the regulations governing the Historic Preservation Tax Credit.