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.
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.
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.”
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
During an end-of-the-year success event on Dec. 15, 2014, Delaware Secretary of State Jeffrey W. Bullock and Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs Director Tim Slavin paid tribute to the staff, volunteers, partners and friends who helped make 2014 an award-winning year for the division.
As part of his presentation, Slavin noted the progress that had been made in implementing the division’s strategic plan for fiscal years 2015 to 2019 which was released on Jan. 27, 2014. Accomplishments include completion of the “common look and feel” for the division’s website, compilation of an agency-wide staff directory that identifies employees’ special skills and talents, development of a staff-recognition program, completion of a five-year exhibit schedule and the development of team budgets. In addition, development of a marketing/communication plan and implementation of the division’s disaster-preparedness plan are currently underway.
Slavin also spotlighted the numerous awards that the division had received in 2014 including four honors from the American Association for State and Local History—the Award of Merit and History in Progress Award that the agency shared with the Delaware Historical Society for their collaborative exhibit “Forging Faith, Building Freedom: African American Faith Experiences in Delaware, 1800-1980”; the Award of Merit that the agency received for “The DeBraak and Its Atlantic World”; and the division’s successful graduation from the association’s StEPs program (Standards and Excellence Program for History Organizations). The division also successfully completed the Core Documents Verification Program, a key component of its efforts to receive accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums.
After the review of agency accomplishments, Slavin welcomed staff members who have joined the division during 2014 including Morgan Booker, Marian Carpenter, Carlton Hall, Charity Luksha, James Scott, Desiree Williams and Rachel Wootten; and presented staff service-awards to Dianna Harris for 30+ years of service, Manny Carrar and Jim Yurasek for 25+ years, Ed Gillespie for 15+ years and Michael Cinque for 5+ years.
Volunteer-service certificates were awarded to Arnold Leftwich for 697.5 volunteer hours, Charolenne Shehorn (609 hours), Kent Slavin (606 hours) Howard Fulcher (602 hours), Jim Schilling (407.5 hours), David Perlmutter (294 hours), Laura Herbin (218.5 hours), Gene Modzelewski (157 hours), Caroline Dworkin (115 hours), Carolyn Apple (114.5 hours), Valarie Shorter (87 hours) and Larry Watkins (83.5 hours). Ed Gillespie, the division’s physical-plant maintenance supervisor, was also honored as the Delaware Department of State’s Employee of the Third Quarter, and former staff members Ken Darsney and Jenna Reynolds were thanked for their service.
Division partners and friends who were recognized were Yancey and Dave Hillegas and Kevin Phillips of the Bethel Historical Society; Florence Davis, Nancy Jodlbauer and Jim Whisman of the New Castle Historical Society; Michele Restucci, Deanna Rishell and Sarah Zimmerman of the First State Heritage Park; Kendel Jones and Dr. Akwasi Osei, former members of the State Review Board for Historic Preservation; Pat Lawson a trustee of the Hebron Methodist Protestant Church that has been nominated for placement on the National Register of Historic Places; and Danielle Patton, Bill Rieker and Kevin Wright of the Delaware Department of Technology and Information.
In recent months, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs has received assistance from a variety of sources for repairs and improvements at two state-owned properties that are administered by the division—the Darley House located at 3701 Philadelphia Pike in Claymont and the Hale-Byrnes House located at 606 Stanton-Christiana Road in Newark.
At the Darley House, Delmarva Power installed a line, at no charge to the state, which can be used for delivering natural gas to the site. As part of the installation process, the utility company worked closely with division staff and the property’s tenant, the Claymont Renaissance Development Corporation, to accommodate archaeological monitoring at this National Register of Historic Places-listed site that once served as the home of noted 19th century illustrator Felix O. C. Darley.
Thanks to efforts by state Rep. Dennis E. Williams, Delaware’s Sustainable Energy Utility conducted an energy audit at Darley House. Williams then led efforts in the Delaware General Assembly that resulted in funding for a variety of improvements at the site including air sealing, weather stripping, chimney pointing, insulating select areas of the building and replacement of several incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. Willams also helped secure funding for the construction of a fence along the property’s northern boundary and a connecting path from the adjacent property’s parking lot to Darley House.
This assistance was particularly helpful as it took place during a time when the division was already involved in repairing the property after a spring hail-storm damaged the house’s siding, wood trim, flashings, gutters, and main and porch roofs.
The Delaware Society for the Preservation of Antiquities, a nonprofit historic-preservation organization and tenant at the Hale-Byrnes House, sponsored repairs to the brick pathway and stairs leading from the parking lot to the house’s front entrance. These improvements will help to ensure safe access to this National Register of Historic Places-listed home built in 1750 and used in 1777 as a meeting place for Gen. George Washington and his staff between the Battle of Cooch’s Bridge in Delaware and the Battle of Brandywine in Pennsylvania.
Written on: December 17th, 2014 in News
The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs is bidding farewell to exhibit-arts specialist Jenna Reynolds who will depart the agency on Dec. 31, 2014 to take the position of administrative/creative assistant at the Freedom Worship Center in Milford, Del.
Reynolds began working for the division in 2002 as an administrative specialist at the agency’s former office site at Rose Cottage in Dover. She subsequently served in the division’s Collections, Affiliates, Research and Exhibits (CARE) Team where she was involved in exhibit planning and design; and in the graphic design of division reports, posters and advertising. Reynolds also held primary responsibility for the design and maintenance of the division’s website, and was a member of the Community Engagement Committee that has been working in recent months on the development of a comprehensive marketing plan for the agency.
Written on: December 17th, 2014 in News
On Oct. 27, 2014, the Delaware Department of State announced that Ed Gillespie, the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ physical-plant maintenance supervisor, had been selected as Employee of the Third Quarter. Delaware Secretary of State Jeffrey W. Bullock presented the award certificate to Gillespie during the division’s end-of-year success event on Dec. 15, 2014.
According to the nomination letter, submitted by one of his co-workers, Gillespie’s “work ethic and positive attitude, even during emergency situations, has been an example to his team.” In May 2014, the division’s physical-plant maintenance superintendent went out on extended medical leave and Gillespie stepped into the breach by accepting leadership of the Preservation-Maintenance Team. During that time, Gillespie not only made sure that daily work assignments were completed and emergencies situations addressed, he also found time to mentor two new employees in electrical and heating-venting-air-conditioning procedures.
On multiple occasions, Gillespie has worked into the night and on weekends when emergencies have arisen at division-administered sites. During a single period in August 2014, he was confronted with concurrent electrical emergencies at the Johnson Victrola Museum and at Woodburn: The Governor’s House. In a deliberate and clear-headed manner, Gillespie took control of the situation, supervising contractors and making sure that repair work was completed properly. His quick reaction and calm leadership helped protect the buildings and the people who use them.
Gillespie has served as the division’s physical-plant maintenance supervisor since April 2014. Prior to that time, he served for 10 years as a physical-plant maintenance mechanic.
The Delaware Department of State’s employee recognition program provides department employees with opportunities to be recognized for significant contributions, individual achievements and exceptional overall performance attained through their daily work and/or community service.
In a recognition ceremony held at the Delaware Public Archives building in Dover on Dec. 6, 2014, Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock presented awards celebrating the work of 1,171 students from 26 schools across the state who took part in the 2014 Delaware Day Fourth Grade Competition. Over the past 13 years, more than 10,000 students have participated in the program.
Delaware Day commemorates the anniversary of Delaware becoming the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution on Dec. 7, 1787. Six months later, on June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the document thereby providing the two-thirds majority of the states needed to establish the Constitution as the law of the land.
Sponsored annually by Delaware’s secretary of state, the Fourth Grade Competition encourages students to study the Constitution and to discover Delaware’s role in its writing and ratification. Students’ observations are presented in a four-panel display format that incorporates prose, poetry, artwork, songs and political cartoons. Each display is reviewed for factual accuracy, spelling and creativity.
Questions for this year’s competition required students to specifically study the Philadelphia Convention, Article I (the legislative branch), Article V (the amendment process) and Article VII (the ratification process). Since a congressional election was held in November 2014, students were also asked to compare and contrast today’s direct election of senators with the process originally established in the Constitution by which senators were elected by state legislatures. Understanding today’s election process required students to study the 17th Amendment which was ratified by 36 states in 1913 and by Delaware in 2010.
Each of the competition’s winning schools was recognized with a Signer’s Award named for one of Delaware’s five signatories of the U.S. Constitution. The Signer’s Awards for the 2014 competition are the George Read Award to the William C. Lewis Dual Language Elementary School in Wilmington; the Gunning Bedford, Jr. Award (tie) to Bunker Hill Elementary School in Middletown and North Star Elementary School in Hockessin; the John Dickinson Award to North Dover Elementary School; the Richard Bassett Award to Frederick Douglass Elementary School in Seaford; and the Jacob Broom Award (tie) to Christ the Teacher School in Newark and the Wilmington Friends School.
Honorable-mention awards were presented to Booker T. Washington, Brader, East Dover, Etta J. Wilson, Gallaher, Lake Forest Central, Leasure, Lord Baltimore, Richard A. Shields, Richardson Park, Star Hill and Thurgood Marshall elementary schools; Calvary Christian, the Learning Express and St. Edmond’s academies; and St. John’s Lutheran School.
Special Artistic Merit Awards, given by the Division of the Arts, were also announced during the ceremony. Schools honored with this award were Bunker Hill, Richardson Park and William C. Lewis Dual Language elementary schools; the Learning Express Academy; and Wilmington Friends School. North Dover Elementary School received an Artistic Merit Honorable Mention Award.
“Delaware Day is a great time to learn about the important history of our state,” said Secretary Bullock. “I was so impressed with the work of the fourth graders from across the state who contributed projects to the competition, and congratulate them on a job well done.”
The 2014 Delaware Day Student Competition was planned and organized by Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ historian and National Register coordinator Madeline Dunn in consultation with the state Department of Education. Participation by other division staff-members included service as judges of the student-developed projects, development of awards certificates and printed materials, set-up of the awards-program location and staffing at the event.