On May, 18, 2015, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs received notification from the National Park Service that the Hebron Methodist Protestant Church and Cemetery, located at 18282 Seashore Highway west of Georgetown, Del., has been officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the United States government’s official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects deemed worthy of preservation.
Constructed in 1888 in the vernacular Greek Revival style, Hebron is one of nine Methodist Protestant churches constructed in rural Sussex County, Del. between 1870 and 1888. The church’s history parallels the development, evolution and popularity of Methodism in southern Delaware during the 19th century. Unlike other Methodist churches which began consolidating first in 1939 as the “Methodist Church” and ultimately as the United Methodist Church in 1968, Hebron chose to remain independent under the governance of its own board of trustees.
Although Hebron ceased holding regular worship services in 1934, its trustees continue to develop special services, supervise burial arrangements, develop plans for annual homecoming events and undertake initiatives ensuring the preservation and maintenance of the historic structure.
Overall, Hebron Church retains a high level of historical integrity and is devoid of modern amenities such as heat, water and electricity. Noteworthy features of the exterior include the original door and window surrounds, multi-paned colored light transom above the front entrance, electroplated door hardware and porcelain door knobs, approximately 90% original clapboards and the original double-hung windows in the apse.
The building’s interior features original wainscoting which lines the walls and extends up to the window-still level. Original diagonal and straight bead-board cover the remainder of the walls and ceiling, respectively. Hebron’s unusual paneled interior is the only-known example of its kind in Sussex County. Traditionally, the interiors of rural Methodist churches were lathed, plastered and painted. Additional interior features include the original communion rail, pulpit, pews and pine flooring in the raised pulpit area.
The Delaware Department of Transportation is currently seeking applicants for an archaeologist position in its Environmental Studies section. The application deadline for the position is July 15, 2015.
For application information, go to the following job posting.
In a grand-re-opening ceremony on June 12, 2015, the Milford Century Club welcomed guests to its refurbished home at 18 N. Church St. in Milford, Del. Tim Slavin, director of the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, and representatives of the National Park Service, were on-hand for the ceremony which was hosted by Dave and Dawn Kenton of the Milford Century Club, LLC.
Built in 1885 as a schoolhouse for the Classical Academy and sold to the Milford New Century Club in 1905, the building was individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Noted for its architectural features and for its long-standing use as a community center, the structure was severely damaged in October 2012 as a result of high wind, wind-driven rain and rising water from Hurricane Sandy.
Repairs to the property included replacement of the heating-ventilation-air-conditioning system, replacement of the roof, exterior painting and associated interior and exterior repairs. These repairs will allow the Milford Century Club to again be used year-round for civic projects and rental for local events.
Funding for the repairs was provided, in part, by a $60,000 grant from the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Assistance Grants for Historic Properties program, a component of the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013. 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 Park Service allocated $1 million for Delaware’s component of the program which is 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.
For a press account of the re-opening ceremony, go to the following:
Milford New Century Club Rededicated
Milford LIVE, Del.—June 23, 2015
In addition to the cleanest beach-water in the nation, a wealth of dining options, arts and entertainment activities, recreational opportunities, natural areas, state parks, night life and tax-free shopping, Delaware’s Atlantic Ocean resorts offer a wide variety of historical attractions including the site of Delaware’s first European settlement.
On Dec. 12, 1630, Capt. Peter Heyes and a group of 28 men sailing in the Walvis (Whale) departed from the city of Hoorn in Holland with the goal of building a whale-hunting station and agricultural settlement at the mouth of the South River (now the Delaware). The river, claimed for the Dutch by Henry Hudson in 1609, formed the southern boundary of the colony of New Netherland.
The Walvis reached the South River in 1631 and a settlement site was identified along Hoorn Kill (present-day Lewes-Rehoboth Canal). Naming their settlement Swanendael (Valley of the Swans), the colonists constructed a palisade, dormitory and cook house. Although none of the original structures remain, the settlement site is marked by a commemorative monument located on Pilottown Road in present day Lewes. The monument is named for David Pieterszoon de Vries who, operating from his offices in Holland, served as the general administrator of the colony.
Leaving Swanendael under the command of Gillis Hossitt, the Walvis returned to Holland where preparations were underway for a second expedition to transport additional settlers and supplies to the colony. Before the expedition could get under way, however, de Vries was notified that all the colonists at Swanendael had been killed and the buildings destroyed as a result of a cultural misunderstanding between the Dutch and Native people in the area.
On May 24, 1632, de Vries himself, along with 50 men, sailed from Holland aboard the Walvis and the Teencoorntgen (Little Squirrel), reaching the burned settlement on Dec.5, 1632. Due to continuing tensions with the Native people and a lackluster whaling harvest, the Dutch abandoned the settlement on April 14, 1633.
Although the Swanendael settlement lasted less than two years, the claiming of the territory fostered the eventual Dutch resettlement of the lower Delaware Valley until 1664 when all of New Netherland was captured by the English. It also set the stage for Delaware’s existence as an independent political entity by providing the legal basis for resolving the dispute between the Penn family of Pennsylvania and the Calvert family of Maryland over the ownership and subsequent division of the Delmarva peninsula.
Go to the following for more information on the Swanendael settlement.
Go to the following to read “Voyages from Holland to America,” the journal of David Pieterszoon de Vries.
Go to the Zwaanendael Museum website.
Go to the following for information on other historic sites located near Delaware’s beaches.
Updated: Oct. 9, 2017
In addition to sponsoring exhibits and special programs at sites across Delaware, the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs creates displays that accent different aspects of history and culture. Less formal than exhibits, these displays provide a compliment to the primary activities available at museums, historic sites, libraries, government buildings, visitor centers and other public places.
Following is information on all division-sponsored displays that are currently on-view at sites across Delaware:
“Discovering Delaware’s Maritime Past.”
Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. April 1–Oct. 31: Tue.–Sat., 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m.; Sun., 1:30–4:30 p.m. Nov. 1–March 31: Wed.–Sat., 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Free admission. 302-645-1148.
Display explores His Majesty’s Sloop DeBraak, a British warship that was escorting and protecting a convoy of British and American merchant ships en route to the United States when it was capsized and lost off the Delaware coast on May 25, 1798. Items on view include a photo of the salvage of DeBraak’s hull, reproductions of artifacts from the ship and a model of the vessel.
“Five Stories.” John Dickinson Plantation Welcome Center, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Oct. 1–March 31: Tue.–Sat., 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. April 1–Sept. 30: Tue.–Sat., 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m.; Sun., 1:30–4:30 p.m. Free admission. 302-739-3277.
“Five Stories” explores the lives of a wide variety of people who lived in the late-18th- to early-19th-centuries on the plantation of John Dickinson, one of the founding fathers of the United States, signer of the U.S. Constitution and “Penman of the Revolution.” Panels tell the stories of John Dickinson’s father Samuel; Dinah, an enslaved woman owned by Samuel Dickinson who was later manumitted by John Dickinson; Mary Norris Dickinson, wife of John Dickinson; William and Deborah White, tenant farmers at the John Dickinson Plantation; and John Furbee and his brother Peter Patten, free-black men who rented farmland from Dickinson.
“The Old State House: A True Restoration 1976-2016.” 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. 302-744-5054.
Display explores preservation work that has been conducted since Delaware’s first state capitol building was restored to its original appearance in 1976.
Sculpture by Charles Parks
New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle. Tue.–Sat., 10 a.m.–4:30 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.
Go to the following for a listing of exhibits at the museums of the state of Delaware.
Go to the following for a comprehensive, long-term calendar of division-sponsored events.
Written on: June 11th, 2015 in News
By Tom Welch, historic-site interpreter, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs
[Editor’s note: Allen McLane (1746-1829) of Duck Creek Crossroads (now Smyrna, Del.) was a hero of the American Revolution, speaker of the state House of Representatives and delegate at Delaware’s Constitution Ratification Convention.]
After a series of overwhelming defeats by British forces, Gen. George Washington realized that he needed much better intelligence in order for the Continental Army to avoid more embarrassing defeats such as the battles of Long Island, Brandywine and others. Intelligence regarding the enemy’s strength, location and movements was a missing component.
Washington knew that he needed dependable sources of military information regarding personnel, number of artillery, leadership and when possible, advance information about the enemy’s plans. He needed to recruit persons with proven abilities to help gather this information and get that data back to command headquarters as quickly as possible.
After observing Allen McLane’s bravery and outstanding performance on the battlefield, especially at Long Island and Princeton, Washington handpicked McLane and promoted him to captain. After McLane journeyed to his home area of Duck Creek Crossroads where he recruited 98 persons for his new company, Washington designated his unit as a light horse cavalry company. His instructions always included the directive to observe the enemy as closely as possible, to harass them and to report back to the commander as often and quickly as possible. From early 1777 until 1782 this was McLane’s main charge.
McLane’s responsibilities grew as his performance sparkled. During the British occupation of Philadelphia, he set up a spy network in the city and traveled there in disguise to gather first-hand intelligence.
Here are two other well-documented intelligence-gathering assignments that deserve noting:
Immediately after the British vacated Philadelphia in June 1778, Washington needed intelligence on the enemy’s strength and disposition. Were they going on through New Jersey to New York, or were they going to double back and surprise the American army as they dismantled the Valley Forge camp and headed east into Philadelphia? Washington wanted to attack the British if they headed toward New York. In a war council, only three of 20 generals supported his proposal to attack. Needing pertinent military intelligence, he chose McLane for this major responsibility. McLane donned a disguise as a farmer and loaded with produce, chickens and eggs, he and another officer wandered close to the British encampment at the Haddon Field in New Jersey where they were challenged by sentries but then admitted into the camp. They were taken to meet with a dapper young British officer, Capt. John Andre (two years later caught and hanged in the plot by Benedict Arnold to turn over West Point to the British). We do not know the nature of the intelligence gathered by McLane in that spying episode, but just a few days later, Washington did order the successful attack on the British at Monmouth Courthouse.
A year later, Washington felt that the support of the press, fellow generals, Congress and the general population had faltered, and was convinced that a victory was necessary to revive the morale of the military and civilian population. He asked Gen. “Mad Anthony” Wayne to propose a target. Stony Point Fort, having recently been taken by the British, was selected. Needing intelligence to prepare for a successful attack, McLane was chosen for the task. Disguising himself as a country bumpkin and a member of the local militia, he accompanied a mother into the fort under a flag of truce as she was there to see her two sons working for the British. While there, McLane gathered information on the number of troops, artillery, trenches, etc. From his report, a battle plan was put together that took the fort in a bayonet-only charge in only 25 minutes. The result that Washington was seeking was achieved. Congress, the press and the public all applauded and crowned Wayne a “national hero.” McLane remained in the shadows. Although his achievements have been often overlooked by historians, one place that has duly noted his prowess is the CIA, which refers to his Stoney Point mission in an article on Intelligence Techniques—Disguise.
Tom Welch has served as a historical interpreter for the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs since 2007 after a successful 27-year career as an administrator at Wesley College in Dover. His interest in Allen McLane began in 2008 when he was asked to portray the Revolutionary War hero as part of a proposed Delaware Day living-history performance. After discovering how little was popularly known about this worthy Delawarean, he began a personal campaign to learn as much as he could about McLane, and to share his knowledge with visitors to Delaware’s state capital. Since then, Welch has portrayed McLane on numerous occasions at events throughout Delaware and the region.
By Carolyn Apple, retired Dover-area emergency medicine physician and Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs volunteer
Did you know that the United States military used stealth aircraft during World War II? Though most of us think of stealth aircraft coming into use by our military in the late 20th century, the U.S. Army Air Force used gliders during World War II to silently land and surprise the enemy.
In organizing and designing the display “World War II Through the Lens of William D. Willis” that was on display at Legislative Hall from March 4, 2015 to Feb. 21, 2016, I discovered the photo documentation of military gliders in the William D. Willis World War II Photographic Collection, one of the permanent collections preserved by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. Because some staff members had not heard of these aircraft and were intrigued to learn more, I was compelled to do more research.
What were gliders? They were lightweight engineless aircraft that were used to transport a group of 13 to 28 infantry troops and heavy equipment into enemy controlled areas without detection. Built to be disposable and for one way missions, the glider’s outer body and wings were made of plywood covered with fabric and the infrastructure was aluminum framing for some larger models which added strength and stability to carry heavy equipment and military vehicles.
It took incredible skill and much courage to fly a military glider. These special aircraft were airlifted by the use of a cable connection to military transport planes such as the C-47 Skytrain or Dakota, or sometimes by bomber planes that were not assigned to a bombing mission, and then released near the designated enemy target. It is hard to imagine how pilots managed to guide these aircraft. Without engines, the gliders had little ability to change course to avoid obstacles or harsh terrain. The goal was to land the gliders, without significant damage to the cargo or crew, in open terrain that was close enough to the enemy. Unfortunately, glider pilots were killed at a higher rate during both training and assigned missions. The gliders would often be destroyed during landing. [Editor’s note: Examples of the Waco CG-4A glider and the C-47 Skytrain are on display at the Air Mobility Command Museum in Dover, Del.]
The images in this blog were selected from the William D. Willis World War II Photographic Collection, one of the permanent collections preserved by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. Mr. Willis of Dover, Del. served as a photographic technician with the Army Air Force during the Second World War.
In a ceremony on May 29, 2015 a group of dignitaries headed by U.S. Sen. Tom Carper unveiled two interpretive signs featuring historical information about The Green in Dover, Del. The Green is a component of the First State National Historical Park which spotlights 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.
During his comments, delivered to a large assemblage including a group of first-grade students from Dover’s Holy Cross School, Carper noted that while Delaware was the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution, it was the only state that did not have a national park when he and the other members of Delaware’s Congressional delegation began efforts to rectify that situation in 2001. Together with the work of countless Delawareans, their efforts came to fruition in 2013 when President Obama issued a proclamation establishing the First State National Monument. The expanded First State National Historical Park was officially established as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 which was signed by the president on Dec. 19, 2015.
Designated by William Penn in 1683, the Dover Green functioned for nearly 200 years as the city’s commercial and governmental center. It served as the site where the Declaration of Independence was read to the townspeople in 1776, and where a Continental regiment was mustered for service in the American Revolution. The Green was also home to a number of taverns and inns including the Golden Fleece Tavern where representatives from Delaware’s three counties ratified the United States Constitution on December 7, 1787, becoming the first state to do so. The Green remains the historical heart of Dover and is the location of The Old State House, Delaware Supreme Court and the Kent County Courthouse.