In a grand-opening ceremony on Oct. 18, 2014, the New Castle Historical Society welcomed visitors to its new headquarters in the Arsenal building located at 30 Market St. in New Castle, Del. Leased to the historical society by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the building will be used for office- and collections-space, as well as a venue for events and private parties. Division director Tim Slavin was on-hand for the ceremony which was conducted by historical society executive-director Michael Connolly.
Part of the New Castle National Historic Landmark District, the Arsenal was constructed in 1809 as a one-story windowless building used by the United States government as a storage place for weapons and ammunition. By the 1830s, the building no longer served its original function and was instead used for a variety of purposes including housing for troops from Fort Delaware, as a hospital during a cholera epidemic and as offices for several federal government agencies including the Custom Service and the departments of revenue and engineering. Transferred to the Trustees of the New Castle Common in the mid-1800s, the building was enlarged to two stories in 1855 for use as a school. It served as the New Castle High School until 1930 and was later used for offices and a restaurant.
Between 2012 and 2014, the division completed a number of capital improvements at the Arsenal including repairs and/or replacement of floors, drywall and partitions; new carpeting and painting; the installation of a new drainage crock in the basement; improvements to the mechanical, electrical, plumbing and alarm systems; the installation of new plumbing and lighting fixtures; and the repair and repainting of exterior shutters. The completion of these enhancements and the lease of the building to the New Castle Historical Society will ensure that the Arsenal functions as a much-needed public venue in the historic city that serves as a focal point in the First State National Monument.