By Madeline Dunn, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ historian and National Register of Historic Places coordinator
Though numerous activities were undertaken to identify, visit and initiate research activities for future nominations, three Delaware properties were officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places in federal fiscal year 2018. Listing in the National Register is an honorary designation which denotes that a property is worthy of historic preservation. Historians at the national level review the extensive site-specific research submitted for each nomination in order to determine whether or not an adequate historical context, relevant to a local or state-wide level of significance, has been properly documented.
Administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ State Historic Preservation Office, Delaware’s National Register program saw increased interest in fiscal year 2018 through the establishment of preservation partnerships with private property owners, church congregational members, representatives of special interest groups, officials from several municipalities, students from collegiate institutions and volunteers from the division’s Volunteer Program. These representatives initiated research activities and will prepare National Register nominations in the future for individual properties and historic districts.
Properties that were listed in the National Register in fiscal year 2018 include the Ball Theatre and Godwin School, both in Millsboro, Sussex County; and Homestead Hall in Appoquinimink Hundred, New Castle County. In each case, documentation was accumulated by either the property owner, representatives of a special-interest group or consultants. Their research included examination of archival records as well as information gleaned from oral-history interviews.
Delaware properties added to the National Register of Historic Places in federal fiscal year 2018
–The Ball Theatre is located at 214 S. Main St. in Millsboro, Del. and was listed in the National Register on Sept. 13, 2018. Originally constructed between 1937 and 1938, the building continued to function as a movie theater until 1971 after which it was utilized for worship services by the New Life Assembly of God. It is currently being privately restored. The primary restoration goal is to preserve the historic fabric, equipment and amenities associated with the Ball Theatre. Preservation objectives include providing the community with a performing arts center and a place of entertainment where Class B movies can be shown, as well as contributing to the promotion and development of Millsboro’s downtown community.
This historic movie theater was constructed by Walter McKinley (Huck) Betts, a retired professional baseball player—hence the name “Ball Theatre.” Betts played for the Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Braves between the 1920s and 1930s and was inducted into the Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame in 1980.
The Ball Theatre retains a high level of historical integrity including its original spatial arrangement; a mezzanine; wooden seating with upholstered seats in both the balcony and auditorium areas; tongue-and-groove wainscoting; a projection room with RCA sound equipment; restroom signage; decorative Art-Deco-style wall sconces; and the original floral patterned stage curtain which was locally made.
–The Godwin School is located at 23235 Godwin School Road west of Millsboro, Del. This historic one-teacher schoolhouse was officially listed in the National Register on July 16, 2018. Historically known as School District #190, it was approved by the State Board of Education as well as the Sussex County Committee of Education in the spring of 1896 and was officially in operation by 1897. During its 40-year history, as many as 30 students, representing grades one through eight, were educated within its walls on a daily basis. Teachers taught a variety of subjects including arithmetic, history, reading and science.
By the end of the 1935–1936 school year, enrollment in rural one-teacher schools had significantly dropped and School District #190 was one of 11 school districts in the state that closed. As a result, former Godwin School students were transferred to Millsboro School District # 23 which offered education to students from the seventh through 12th grades.
Like other closed one-teacher school buildings, the Godwin school was repurposed. Descendants of Jacob R. Godwin, namesake of the school and owner of the land on which the school building had been constructed, utilized it as an agricultural-support building. Decades later, the Millsboro Historical Society was established with the sole purpose of restoring the Godwin School. The society recognized the importance of preserving a once commonplace historical building type that has vanished from the rural landscape. Today the society conducts tours of their beloved building and welcomes visitors of all ages. Tours are conducted by appointment only by calling 302-934-6820.
–Homestead Hall is a well-maintained, privately-owned 18th century residence located in western Appoquinimink Hundred which was listed in the National Register on Aug. 13, 2018. It is locally known as the ancestral home of the Rothwell and Wilson families, prominent farmers who lived and owned extensive landholdings in Appoquinimink Hundred for more than 100 years.
Constructed about 1773 and enlarged around 1846, this Georgian style single-pile residence retains a great deal of historical integrity. Noteworthy architectural characteristics include its double entry doors on the main façade, a four-row brick-belt course between the first and second story levels and a projecting brick water table.
As a rare survival of an early 18th century brick dwelling, the documented history associated with this property provides an opportunity to learn about the gentry of the area including their social and domestic relationships as reflected in the reorganization of interior spaces; their land management strategies; and their agricultural activities including the importance of diversifying agricultural products which included transformation from growing wheat and corn during the 18th century, to dairying, raising livestock for slaughter and producing orchard products throughout the 19th century.
Based on anticipated heavy rain and wind, the “Governor’s Halloween Family Fun Fest,” scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018 at Woodburn: The Governor’s Residence in Dover, Del., has been cancelled.
Following is information on the original event:
Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018
CANCELLED. “Governor’s Halloween Family Fun Fest.” Activities will include tours of the home, games and crafts. Woodburn: The Governor’s Residence, 151 Kings Highway S.W., Dover. 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Free admission. 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 email@example.com. NOTE: Due to inclement weather, this event has been cancelled.
The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs is responsible for the care and conservation of Woodburn.
Based on anticipated heavy rain and wind, “Lantern Tours of the Plantation,” scheduled for Friday evening Oct. 26, 2018 at the John Dickinson Plantation in Dover, Del., have been cancelled.
Following is information on the original event:
Friday, Oct. 26, 2018
CANCELLED. “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. 25, 2018.
The John Dickinson Plantation is administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, an agency of the State of Delaware.
Written on: October 24th, 2018 in News
During an all-staff meeting that took place on Oct. 15, 2018 at the Buena Vista Conference Center in New Castle, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs reviewed several successes that it had achieved in recent months and honored its staff and volunteers who have helped the agency in its efforts to preserve Delaware’s historical legacy.
Division director Tim Slavin began the program by presenting staff service-awards to Greg Buchman of the Preservation-Maintenance Team for five years of service; Deputy Historic Preservation Officer Gwen Davis and Melvin Mitchell of the Preservation-Maintenance Team for 25 years; Brian Cannon and Cindy Snyder of the New Castle Court House Museum for 20 years and 25 years respectively; and Faye Stocum of the State Historic Preservation Office for 45 years.
Slavin then congratulated Scott Hayes for his promotion from Physical Plant Maintenance Mechanic Level II to Level III, and welcomed several new employees who had joined the division staff in recent months including social-media manager Emmitt Best; Laura Coderre of Buena Vista; Chris Conley and Keith Sands of the Preservation Maintenance Team; Abigail Davis and Fran Mahon of the Zwaanendael Museum; and Sharon Trotman at the division’s main office in Dover. Slavin also took time to welcome two new division volunteers who were in attendance at the meeting—Debbie Bain and Ted Mason—and to honor Bev Laing of the State Historic Preservation Office who will be retiring in December 2018 after 28 years of service.
Following the congratulations, Slavin passed the baton to Beth Gott, lead historic-site interpreter at the Zwaanendael Museum, who presented an Extra Mile Award to museum site-interpreters Kaitlyn Dykes and Tom Pulmano who have been conducting extensive outreach activities at local-area festivals, and for the student programs that they are presenting at the museum.
Division team leaders then came forward to discuss recent improvements that have taken place at Buena Vista including comments by division planner Lynn Riley who discussed Phase III capital improvements at the site; Desiree May, Buena Vista site supervisor, who discussed opportunities for increased rentals of the property’s pole shed; and Horticulture Team manager Betsy Gant who discussed the replacement of several trees that had blown down at the site after a storm.
Slavin brought the morning’s activities to a close with a discussion of the division’s new collections facility that is currently in the process of being built at a site west of Dover. The 35,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility will eventually house the multi-million-item collection of historical materials owned by the State of Delaware including museum objects, archaeological artifacts, works of art, and library and archival materials.
Noting that the new facility will allow the division to store all of the state’s collections under one roof for the first time, Slavin thanked Delaware Secretary of State Jeff Bullock and Deputy Secretary of State Courtney Stewart for their continued support for the project. If all goes according to plan, the facility will be certified for occupancy by Aug. 31, 2019 with the transfer of all the collections materials completed by Dec. 31, 2019.
Over the past two years, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs has completed Phase III of its master planning process for the Buena Vista conference center located at 661 S. Dupont Highway in New Castle.
The planning process was begun in 2010 in an effort to safeguard Buena Vista’s historical integrity; improve visitor wayfinding and circulation for the existing conference and reception functions; and investigate the potential for accommodating a wider range of events. The first eight years of the process saw the completion of a wide range of improvements including structural repairs to the mansion and outbuildings, upgrades to building-automation systems, construction of an accessible pedestrian trail, horticultural upgrades and many others.
Activities completed as part of Phase III include the following:
–Restoration and renovation of the circa 1825 brick stable as a support building for the pole-shed event pavilion. Improvements to the stable included the addition of public-use restrooms, a basic catering kitchen (servery) and a workroom. The renovation required the addition of mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems; water supply; intrusion and fire protection; basic communications systems; envelope stabilization; and interior space layout and finishes.
–Conclusion of a multi-year project to upgrade Buena Vista’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system including installation of a new chiller, water pumps, air separator, glycol feeder, expansion tank and other hydronic appurtenances. Previous phases of the project included the installation of new boilers; replacement of select pumps; installation of a glycol/water mixing tank; draining, cleaning and re-filling of the glycol system; installation of selected piping insulation; and upgraded controls
–In order to address numerous water-pipe breaks, the entire existing water line serving the conference center was abandoned in-place, and the conference center was tied in to an existing six-inch fire sprinkler service. A new master meter-vault and meter pit were installed connecting to the existing six-inch line
–Repairs to the property’s greenhouse which serves as the northern Delaware headquarters for the division’s Horticulture Team. The greenhouse is used to grow a wide variety of planting materials for use at the division’s museums and historic sites across the state
–Conversion of a section of the property’s garage to serve as a storage location in support of conference center functions
The main section of the Buena Vista mansion was built between 1845 and 1847 by John M. Clayton, United States secretary of state from 1849 to 1850 under presidents Taylor and Fillmore, and United States senator from 1829 to 1836, 1845 to 1849, and 1853 until his death in 1856. The home later became the residence of C. Douglass Buck, governor of Delaware from 1929 to 1937 and United States senator from 1942 to 1948. Buena Vista and its grounds were donated to the state by the Buck family in 1965 and now serve as a conference/event center administered by the division.
Written on: October 23rd, 2018 in News
In September 2018, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs welcomed Laura Coderre as an executive housekeeper at the Buena Vista conference/event center in New Castle. In addition to the upkeep of the house, her varied responsibilities include assisting with the set-up and break-down of events, food service, hospitality, customer relations and inventory management.
A graduate of William Patterson University in Wayne, N.J. where she majored in sociology, Coderre previously lived in the Hampton Roads/Virginia Beach area of Virginia where she worked as an executive manager for Health Care Services of Hampton Roads. After she and her husband and son moved to Clayton, Del. two years ago, she worked for Merry Maids cleaning services. She enjoys working in Buena Vista’s historical environment and interacting with the many different people who visit the site.
During the month of November, 2018, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be sponsoring 11 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 events, November 2018
Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018
“Some Like Classical.” Guided tours examine some of Victor Records’ earliest recordings of classical music played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. First Saturday in the First State program. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-739-3262.
Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018
“18th Century Market Fair.” Programs explore an era when The Green served as the focal point of life in Dover as historical interpreters explore the goods, wares and political attitudes of the 1700s. The Old State House will celebrate the fair with special tours and 18th-century-style demonstrations. First Saturday in the First State event sponsored by the First State Heritage Park. The Green, Dover. Programs 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5054.
Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018
Election 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 John Dickinson Plantation and the New Castle Court House Museum, open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. The Zwaanendael Museum, closed. 302-744-5054.
Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018
Return 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 John Dickinson Plantation and the New Castle Court House Museum, open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. The Zwaanendael Museum will be open on this Sussex County holiday from 10 a.m.–Noon. 302-744-5054.
Friday, Nov. 9, 2018
Concert by Shane Palko. Alternative-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, Nov. 10, 2018
“Veteran’s Walking Tours.” Programs include stories and visits to grave sites of notable New Castle veterans from America’s wars. Presented by the New Castle Court House Museum. Tours depart at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. from Immanuel Episcopal Church, 100 Harmony St., New Castle. Free admission but reservations are requested by calling 302-323-4453.
Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018
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.
Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018
Lecture by U.S. Navy Capt. Bill Manthorpe. In honor of Veterans Day and the signing of the armistice ending World War I, the program will explore the effects of the Great War on Lewes, Del. Part of “Across the Ages to the Edge of the Sea,” a lecture series exploring the history of the Lewes area from the 17th to the 20th centuries. 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 Nov. 9, 2018.
Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018
“Over There and Back Again!” One hundred years ago, World War I came to an end. The war caused significant changes to the United States. In this first-person interpretation, lead historic-site-interpreter Gavin Malone will portray a World War I veteran discussing the differences in American society between the 1910s and the early 1920s. The program will also feature music of the period. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. 2 p.m. Museum open 1:30–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5054.
Monday, Nov. 12, 2018
Veterans 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 John Dickinson Plantation, open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. The New Castle Court House Museum and the Zwaanendael Museum, closed. 302-744-5054.
Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018
Dutch-American Heritage Day. Celebrate the anniversary of Nov. 16, 1776 when an American warship sailed into the harbor of the Dutch island of St. Eustatius in the West Indies and was greeted by a friendly salute, the first ever given by a foreign power to the flag of the newly-independent United States. Activities include Dutch crafts, historical information and “The Golden Rock: The History and Archaeology of St. Eustatius,” a lecture by museum interpreter Fran Mahon at 2 p.m. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Lecture 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 Nov. 16, 2018.
Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018
Bayberry candle workshops. Programs examine bayberries and their use in creating bayberry candles. Presented in partnership with the St. Jones Reserve. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Workshops to take place from 10 a.m.–Noon and 1–3 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations for the workshop are required by calling 302-739-3277 no later than Nov. 16, 2018.
Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018
Thanksgiving Day. All 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) will be closed. 302-744-5054.
Friday, Nov. 23, 2018
Day After Thanksgiving. All 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 John Dickinson Plantation, New Castle Court House Museum and the Zwaanendael Museum, open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5054.
Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018
“Handmade for the Holidays.” Seasonal program in which visitors can create a sachet with herbs and spices. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.
Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018
“Hospitality Night.” Holiday-themed program in which the museum will be decorated for the season by the Sussex Gardeners including luminarias lighting the entrance walkway. Activities will include historical interpreters, demonstrations, music and seasonal refreshments. Presented in partnership with the Lewes Chamber of Commerce. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. 5–8 p.m. 302-645-1148.
Administered by the 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 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.
On Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018 at 7 p.m., the National Park Service will offer a public presentation on the First State National Historical Park’s Historic Resource Study which was recently completed by Paula S. Reed & Associates, Inc. The presentation will take place at The Arsenal located at 30 Market St. in New Castle, Del.
Paula S. Reed, Ph.D., architectural historian, historian and principal investigator, has particular and extensive experience with cultural resource evaluation. During her presentation, she will discuss why and how the park undertook the study, and review her conclusions and findings. At the conclusion of the presentation, the public will have an opportunity to offer comments and ask questions. For additional information, call 302-544-6363 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Members of the public are invited to attend the next meeting of the Delaware State Review Board for Historic Preservation which will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, from 10 a.m. to Noon, in the Delaware Room of the Delaware Public Archives located at 121 Martin Luther King Blvd. North in Dover, Del.
As part of the meeting, the review board will review nominations to the National Register of Historic Places for the Taylors Bridge School in New Castle County and the Richard Allen School in Georgetown. Following the National Register presentations, the meeting will include an update on the State Historic Preservation Plan for 2018–2022, and a review of changes to the Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program. Go to the following site to find the complete agenda for the meeting.
In accordance with the Delaware Freedom of Information Act, this meeting is open to the public and copies of the minutes will be made available upon request in accordance with the law. Written comments should be submitted prior to the meeting date. Oral comments and questions will be invited during the meeting.
For additional information, please contact Madeline Dunn, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ National Register coordinator via e-mail at email@example.com or by calling 302-736-7417.
Individuals needing reasonable accommodations in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act may call 302-736-7400 by Friday, October 19, 2018.
Between Oct. 20, 2018 and April 6, 2019, the Zwaanendael Museum, located at 102 Kings Highway in Lewes, Del., will present “Across the Ages to the Edge of the Sea,” a seven-part lecture series exploring the history of the Lewes, Del. area from the 17th to the 20th centuries. All programs in the series begin at 2 p.m. on the museum’s 2nd floor (entry via staircase; no elevator) and are free and open to the public. However, due to space restrictions, reservations are required by calling the museum at 302-645-1148.
“Across the Ages to the Edge of the Sea”
Schedule as of Nov. 15, 2018
Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018
Lecture on the Lenapé Indian Tribe of Delaware. Program by Theo Braunskill, Lenapé citizen and Elders Council member, and Nena Todd, manager of the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ downtown Dover museums. Reservations must be made no later than Oct. 19, 2018.
Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018
Lecture by U.S. Navy Capt. Bill Manthorpe. In honor of Veterans Day and the signing of the armistice ending World War I, the program will explore the effects of the Great War on Lewes, Del. Reservations must be made no later than Nov. 9, 2018.
Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018
Lecture on Lightship Overfalls. Program on the history of lightships and of Lewes’ own Lightship Overfalls presented by author, instructor and Lightship Overfalls guide Wayne Kirklin. Reservations must be made no later than Dec. 7, 2018.
Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019
Lecture on the Avery’s Rest archaeological site. Program on Avery’s Rest, a 17th-century archaeological site near Rehoboth Beach presented by Dan Griffith of Griffith Archaeology and retired director of the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. Reservations must be made no later than Jan. 11, 2019.
Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019
“Revolutionary Drinks on the Delaware.” Lecture by Marcos Salaverria, director of education for the Lewes Historical Society, who will explore the consumption of chocolate, tea and coffee in Delaware during the 18th century. Reservations must be made no later than Feb. 8, 2019.
Saturday, March 9, 2019
“Pine Tar and Petticoats.” Lecture explores the maritime clothing and material culture of Lewes, Del. in the second half of the 18th century. Reservations must be made no later than March 8, 2019.
Saturday, April 6, 2019
Lecture on the bombardment of Lewes. Program by Chuck Fithian, retired curator of archaeology for the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs and current instructor and lecturer at Washington College, on the War of 1812 and the bombardment of Lewes in 1813. Reservations must be made no later than April 5, 2019.
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. The museum is administered by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, an agency of the State of Delaware.