By Alice Guerrant, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs archaeologist and Historic Properties Research Center manager.
Work has been completed to restore the online map provided through the Cultural and Historical Resources Information System (CHRIS), the State Historic Preservation Office’s geographic information system (GIS). The map was affected by a software issue that prevented proper filtering of historic-property information. Our vendor, GeoDecisions, researched options to address the problem and an update to the ArcGIS Online software provided the solution. The revised map is now available to the public at https://chris-users.delaware.gov/public/#/.
In addition to restoring the map, several new layers have been added to make it even more useful. For example, students and teachers can now overlay their school districts on the map to research National Register of Historic Places-listed buildings, structures and historic districts located within their school districts. Similarly, state legislative-districts have been added, allowing citizens and legislators to see National Register listings in their communities. Likewise, the map shows the state’s Downtown Development Districts, which will allow owners and developers to see what properties in those districts may also be eligible for Historic Preservation Tax Credits. Finally, we’ve added the Delaware Department of Transportation’s updated layer showing the full range of the state’s historic and scenic byways, allowing citizens and travelers to learn more about the National Register-listed places along those routes.
And of course, the National Register layers include the latest additions to Delaware’s listed properties such as the Dinker-Irvin Cottage in Bethany Beach and the Downtown Wilmington Commercial Historic District.
For additional information about CHRIS, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 302-736-7412.
During the month of October 2017, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be sponsoring 19 special programs at sites across the state. A full schedule is included below. Except where noted, all programs are free and open to the public.
Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs special programs, October 2017
Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017
“Native Ways.” Demonstrations and activities, presented by archeologists, modern practitioners and historic-site interpreters from The Old State House, showcase ancient technologies and lifeways from Delaware spanning over 14,000 years. Killens Pond State Park, 5025 Killens Pond Road, Felton. 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Free with paid park-admission fee. 302-284-4526.
Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017
“Let’s Get Ready to Rumble: William Penn vs Lord Baltimore.” Celebrate Dover’s 300th anniversary with a historical-theater production exploring William Penn’s conflict with Lord Baltimore over ownership of the Delmarva Peninsula. First Saturday in the First State program. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Performances at 1 and 4:30 p.m. Museum open for tours from 9 a.m.–1 p.m. and 2–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5054.
Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017
“Johnson Victrola Museum’s 50th Anniversary Celebration: A Diva’s Tale.” Program at 2:30 p.m.—“From Prima Donnas to Divas: A Victor Creation”—examines the talented female vocalists of the Victor Talking Machine Company and how they paved the way for the divas of today, accompanied by 78-rpm recordings of those artists played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. Part of a series of programs celebrating the museum’s creation in 1967. First Saturday in the First State program. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-739-3262.
Monday, Oct. 9, 2017
Columbus Day. The following museums of the State of Delaware will be open: The Johnson Victrola Museum and The Old State House, open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. The following museums will be closed: The John Dickinson Plantation, the New Castle Court House Museum and the Zwaanendael Museum. 302-744-5054.
Monday, Oct. 9, 2017
“Johnson Victrola Museum’s 50th Anniversary Celebration.” Guided tours explore the museum and its collections during the golden anniversary of its creation in 1967, accompanied by 78-rpm records played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-739-3262.
Friday, Oct. 13, 2017
Concert by Crabmeat Thompson. Blues/folk music. Presented in partnership with the Delaware Friends of Folk and the First State Heritage Park. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. 7:30 p.m. 302-744-5054.
Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017
“18th Century Trades Day.” Experience occupations of the 1700s including getting your hands dirty with the blacksmith, preserving food in the smokehouse, weaving a rug on a loom and making bricks out of clay. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.
Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017
Demonstrations by the Thistledown Fiber Arts Guild. Program explores spinning, weaving, knitting and other fabric arts. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 1–3 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.
Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017
“Shakespeare, Poe and Fiends.” Delaware Shakespeare presents dramatic readings for the Halloween season. New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle. 7:30 p.m. Tickets $18.50 available online at http://www.delshakes.org/. 302-323-4453.
Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017
Delaware State Review Board for Historic Preservation annual business meeting. Agenda TBA. The Delaware Room, Delaware Public Archives, 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Dover. 10 a.m.–Noon. 302-736-7417.
Wednesday, Oct. 18 and Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017
“The Spirit of New Castle Past.” Play by historic-site interpreter David Price explores figures from New Castle’s past including a founder, a loose woman, a fire bug, a murderess, a politician, a soldier, a diplomat and a very scared head-teller. New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle. 7 p.m. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations are required. Patrons must be in their seats no later than 6:50 p.m. No admission after the play begins. 302-323-4453.
Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017
Historic Cemetery Preservation Workshop. A day of expert presentations providing practical advice for those concerned with the preservation and maintenance of historic burial places in the First State. Dover location. 9 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Admission charge and reservations required. For information and reservations, go to http://asdweb.startlogic.com/id57.html; e-mail email@example.com; or call 302-739-9188.
Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017
Blackbird Creek Fall Festival. Family-friendly events include outdoor activities, hayrides, display booths, crafts and programs by historic-site interpreters from the John Dickinson Plantation. Blackbird Creek Reserve, 801 Blackbird Landing Road, Townsend. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. 302-739-6377.
Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017
“Who Did In the Delaware Ducks?” It is June 1687 and someone has killed Arthur Starr’s ducks! In this historical play, museum guests meet the suspect and search for clues to help solve the mystery and find a killer. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Program at 2 p.m. on the museum’s 2nd floor (entry via staircase; no elevator). Museum open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations for the lecture are required by calling 302-645-1148 no later than Oct. 20, 2017.
Friday, Oct. 27, 2017
“Lantern Tours of the Plantation.” Programs explore the parties, games, dances and entertainment that would have abounded at the plantation during the nighttime in the 18th century. Activities will also include wagon-ride guided-tours conducted by staff of the St. Jones Reserve exploring the nocturnal life of the estuary. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Programs 5:30–6:30 p.m. and 7–8 p.m. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations are required by calling the John Dickinson Plantation at 302-739-3277 no later than Oct. 26.
Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017
“Halloween Family Fun Day at Woodburn.” Activities will include tours of the home, games and crafts. Woodburn: The Governor’s Residence, 151 Kings Highway S.W., Dover. 10 a.m.–2 p.m. In the event of inclement weather, all activities will be cancelled. For additional information or for notification of cancellation, call 302-739-5656 or e-mail Woodburn@state.de.us.
Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017
William Penn Day. Day-long series of programs commemorating the 335th anniversary of Penn’s disembarkment at New Castle, his first landing in the New World. Activities include the historical plays “Livery of Seizen” and “The Tryal of William Penn”; a concert by De Blokfluiters recorder/flute ensemble; “Life With Mrs. Penn” presentation; and a Baroque harpsichord and flute evening concert. New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle. 10 a.m.–6:30 p.m. 302-323-4453.
Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017
“Mysteries of History.” Walking tours by lead historic-site-interpreter Beth Gott explore the unusual tombstones of St. Peter’s cemetery in Lewes. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Tours leave from the museum at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations for the tours are required by calling 302-645-1148 no later than Oct. 27, 2017.
Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017
“Trick-or-Treat at Woodburn.” Gov. John Carney and first lady Tracey Carney will be giving out candy to trick-or-treaters who knock on the door. Woodburn: The Governor’s Residence, 151 Kings Highway S.W., Dover. 5– 8 p.m. Trick-or-treaters welcome regardless of any adverse weather conditions. For additional information, call 302-739-5656 or e-mail Woodburn@state.de.us. ¨
Administered by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the five museums of the State of Delaware—the John Dickinson Plantation, the Johnson Victrola Museum, the New Castle Court House Museum, The Old State House and the Zwaanendael Museum—tell the story of the First State’s contributions to the history and culture of the United States. Through tours, exhibits, school programs and hands-on activities, the museums shine a spotlight on Delaware’s unique history and the diverse people who came to live there. The museums are accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the highest recognition afforded to museums in the United States. The New Castle Court House Museum and the John Dickinson Plantation are partner sites of the First State National Historical Park. The Old State House is located on the Dover Green, another partner site of the park.
Go to the following for a comprehensive, long-term calendar of division-sponsored events.
Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs Director Tim Slavin was recently interviewed for an article on the agency’s newly earned accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums. The interview was conducted by Cecelia Walls for the newsletter, Alliance Labs. Go to the following to read the article: 3 Questions with the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs.
Developed and sustained by museum professionals for over 45 years, the American Alliance of Museums accreditation program is the field’s primary vehicle for quality assurance, self-regulation and public accountability. It strengthens the museum profession by promoting practices that enable leaders to make informed decisions, allocate resources wisely, and remain financially and ethically accountable in order to provide the best possible service to the public. Of the nation’s estimated 33,000 museums, approximately 1,000 currently are accredited. Delaware’s state museums join only two other museums accredited in Delaware.
On Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs Director Tim Slavin presided over a ceremony marking the opening of “New Castle: Three Forts, One Community,” a new exhibit that examines the 17th-century struggle for control of New Castle, Del. by the Dutch, Swedes and English, and the strongholds that they built to maintain their power. The exhibit is on display at the New Castle Court House Museum located at 211 Delaware St.in New Castle, Del.
In addition to remarks by Slavin, the opening ceremony included comments by Cindy Snyder, site supervisor of the New Castle Court House Museum, and Lauren Morgens, captain of the Kalmar Nyckel, which was docked in New Castle and open for on-board tours. Approximately 50 people attended the opening ceremony in the Court House.
Other activities that occurred throughout the day included Dutch and Swedish re-enactors and encampments; museum and exhibit tours; Swedish craft-activities for children; and a walking tour of the site of Fort Casimir.
Constructed in 1732, the New Castle Court House is one of the oldest active court buildings in the United States and was Delaware’s first state capitol. Here, the Colonial Assembly passed the 1776 Separation Resolution creating the Delaware State. During its nearly 300 years of history, this landmark has played many pivotal roles in the political, social and commercial life of both New Castle and Delaware. The museum is a partner site in the First State National Historical Park.
During a ceremony at the Pencader Heritage Museum in Newark, Del. on Sept. 6, 2017, former Newark Police Chief Bill Brierley returned to the British government the Union Jack that had once flown over HMS Sheffield, a guided-missile destroyer that was later sunk in 1982 during the Falklands War. The flag was left with Brierley by a British police officer after an international law-enforcement conference that took place in Newark in 1974.
As part of the program, two U.S. Marines, presided over by 1st Lt. Christopher Watkins of the Delaware Army National Guard, ceremonially folded the flag. Watkins then handed it to Brierley who, in turn, passed it to Maj. Justin Bellman, a U.S. Marine who had helped organize the event. Bellman then presented the flag to Cmdr. Richard McHugh, the assistant naval attaché for the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. Upon its return to the United Kingdom, the flag will be displayed in the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth, England.
Other highlights of the program include the reading of the names of the 20 British sailors who lost their lives during the attack on the Sheffield; a presentation on the history of the ship by McHugh; a recounting by Brierley of how he received the flag; a moving bagpipe performance of “Amazing Grace” by Lt. Brian Grant of the Delaware Army National Guard; and the presentation of a crystal box to McHugh—a gift from U.S. Sen. Christopher Coons. Desiree Burritt, constituent advocate from Coons’ office, presented the gift in the senator’s absence.
Among the approximately 50 invited guests who attended the program were state Rep. Earl G. Jaques Jr., and state Sen. Stephanie L. Hansen who read a legislative proclamation honoring the flag transfer. Also on hand was Laura Wisniewski from the office of Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long who read a proclamation from the State of Delaware. The event was presided over by museum board member Bill Conley.
The Pencader Heritage Museum is located at 2029 Sunset Lake Road in Newark, Del. The museum is housed in a barn on the grounds of Cooch-Dayett Mills, a former grist mill that is owned by the State of Delaware and administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. The barn is leased to the Pencader Heritage Area Association for its museum which spotlights the history of the Pencader Hundred area of northern New Castle County. Museum exhibits include pictures and memorabilia of the Cooch family, artifacts and information regarding the history of Cooch-Dayett Mills, Native American artifacts and information on the Battle of Cooch’s Bridge, the only American Revolutionary War battle fought on Delaware soil.
For a press account of the flag-transfer ceremony, go to the following Newark Post article: Historic flag returned to British Navy during Newark ceremony. The article received more than 7,000 hits within 24 hours after it was posted on the newspaper’s website. More than 50% of the hits came from the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.
The Zwaanendael Museum, located at 102 Kings Highway in Lewes, Del., is currently offering “Global to Local: International Events and the First State,” a six-part series that explores how world events have impacted Delaware’s history. All programs begin at 2 p.m. and will be held on the museum’s 2nd floor (entry via staircase; no elevator). Admission is free but, due to space restrictions, reservations are required by calling 302-645-1148.
Following are the six programs in the series:
Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017
“Hunting for Hudson.” Lecture by historic-site interpreter Kaitlyn Dykes on Henry Hudson and his connection to the Delaware Bay. Reservations required by Sept. 8, 2017.
Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017
“A Dead Whale or a Stove Boat, Part One.” Lecture by historic-site interpreter Andrew Lyter on the early days of the American whaling industry (1620–1783). Held in conjunction with Lewes’ annual Boast the Coast festival, the event will also feature a day-long slate of historical games and maritime-history activities. Reservations for the lecture are required by Sept. 29, 2017.
Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017
“A Dead Whale or a Stove Boat, Part Two.” Lecture by historic-site interpreter Andrew Lyter on the glory days of the American whaling industry (1783–1861). Reservations required by Dec. 8, 2017.
Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018
“Buccaneers in the Bay.” Lecture by historic-site interpreter Kaitlyn Dykes on the pirates of Lewes, Del. Reservations required by Jan. 12, 2018.
Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018
“Seafarers Folk Art.” Program featuring demonstrations and hands-on activities. Reservations required by Feb. 16, 2018.
Saturday, March 24, 2018
“A Dead Whale or a Stove Boat, Part Three.” Lecture by historic-site interpreter Andrew Lyter on the decline and death of the American whaling industry (1861–1927). Reservations required by March 23, 2018.
Administered by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the Zwaanendael Museum was built in 1931 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the state’s first European colony, Swanendael, established by the Dutch along Hoorn Kill (present-day Lewes-Rehoboth Canal) in 1631. Designed by E. William Martin (architect of Legislative Hall and the Hall of Records in Dover), the museum is modeled after the town hall in Hoorn, the Netherlands, and features a stepped facade gable with carved stonework and decorated shutters. The museum’s exhibits and presentations provide a showcase for Lewes-area maritime, military and social history.