Masonry repair-work under way at the Sheriff's House in New Castle in June 2012.


The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs has recently completed a report on capital improvements conducted during the past year at more than 30 state-owned historic properties administered by the division. These capital-improvement projects were made possible by a $5.25 million appropriation that the division received from the Delaware General Assembly in July 2011.

Go to the following to read the report.


Archaeologists and onlookers at the Fort Casimir excavation site on the New Castle waterfront.


During the week of June 11, 2012, a group of archaeologists including Craig Lukezic from the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs; consultants from the firm of John Milner Associates; University of Delaware anthropology department professors Lu Ann DeCunzo and Jay Custer; members of the Archaeological Society of Delaware; and a group of University of Delaware students were at work in New Castle to determine if archaeological remains are still present from Fort Casimir, a Dutch military site established in the 17th century.

In the weeks leading up to the actual excavations, Lukezic had identified a target area where previous testing in the 1980s had identified a buried, artifact-rich layer that seems to date from the Dutch-occupation period. Ground-penetrating-radar was then used to provide information on the location of probable disturbances and underground features. During the past week, archaeologists conducted hand-excavations around the test area followed by machine excavation that removed fill down to the anticipated occupation level creating a four-foot-deep trench. The City of New Castle provided a back hoe for the trenching work at no charge.

The work successfully re-established the test units that had been excavated in the 1980s, and identified several new features that suggest a structure. A number of artifacts were also discovered including a flattened musket ball, earthenware fragments and bits of yellow brick. Results are preliminary, but Lukezic and the team are encouraged that they may have discovered evidence of the fort within the test area. The mechanical trenching also revealed the numerous filling and cutting episodes that have taken place along the New Castle shoreline over the years.

Go to the following for a press article on the investigation:

Renewing the search for Fort Casimir

DFM News, Newark, DE—June 19, 2012


Graphophone that was examined in the "America's Lost Treasures" television segment.


The segment of "America's Lost Treasures" filmed at Dover, Del.'s Johnson Victrola Museum is scheduled to air at 9 p.m. on July 25, 2012 on the National Geographic cable channel. "America's Lost Treasures" seeks individuals from across the country who own items of historical interest, significance or mystery. It then films interviews with subject-matter experts who can help authenticate, appraise for value and tell a story for these items.

Ann Horsey, the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs' curator of collections and a subject-matter expert in sound-reproduction machines, was interviewed regarding a Graphophone machine manufactured by Columbia Phonograph in the late 1890s. The museum was selected as the filming venue because of its focus on the life and achievements of Delaware's native son, Eldridge Reeves Johnson, founder of the Victor Talking Machine Company and a pioneer in the development of the sound-recording industry.


Mary Harper


On May 31, 2012, Mary Harper, the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs' information systems support specialist, left the agency after an 11-year tenure. She and her family have since relocated to Haines City, Fla. Harper's contributions to the division included the provision of expertise and technical support for computers, geographic information system, database management and many others. In 2003, she was named the Department of State's Employee of the Third Quarter.


U.S. 25-cent coin depicting Caesar Rodney's ride for independence.


In celebration of Independence Day, two of the museums of the state of Delaware will be offering free public screenings of "Thunder and Rain," a short film about Caesar Rodney's ride to Philadelphia on the night of July 1 to 2, 1776 to cast Delaware's deciding vote in favor of American independence. The Declaration of Independence, adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, announced that the 13 American Colonies then at war with Great Britain were now independent states and thus, no longer a part of the British Empire. Rodney, George Read and Thomas McKean were Delaware's signers of the document.

"Thunder and Rain" will be screened at the New Castle Court House Museum, located at 211 Delaware St., in New Castle on Sunday, July 1, 2012 at 2 p.m. Admission to the museum, which will also be open for visitation from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., is free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-323-4453.

The film will also be screened at The Old State House, located at 25 The Green, in Dover at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on both Wednesday, July 4 and Saturday, July 7, 2012. The museum will also be open for visitation and tours from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on July 4, and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on July 7. Admission is free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-744-5055.


Historical interpreter reading the Declaration of Independence in front of Dover's Old State House.


History will come to life as the three downtown Dover museums of the state of Delaware celebrate America's Independence Day with programs on July 4 and 7, 2012.

The Old State House, located at 25 The Green, will ring in the nation's birthday on July 4 at 2 p.m. with the pealing of The Old State House bell, followed by historical interpreters, in Colonial-period dress, who will recite the Declaration of Independence aloud from the spot where the document was first read to the citizens of Dover on July 29, 1776. Additional programs will include screenings of "Thunder and Rain," a film about Caesar Rodney's 1776 ride to Philadelphia to cast Delaware's deciding vote in favor of American independence from Great Britain. Screenings will take place at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on both July 4 and July 7. The museum will also be open for visitation from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on July 4, and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on July 7.

Visitors to the Johnson Victrola Museum, located at 375 S. New St., will have an opportunity to enjoy "A Day With E.R. Johnson," a program in which historical interpreter Bill Sparke will take on the persona of Eldridge Reeves Johnson, founder of the Victor Talking Machine Company. Audience members are encouraged to ask questions and talk with Johnson who will remain in character throughout his appearances which will take place at 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on July 4; and 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on July 7. In addition to the E.R. Johnson programs, visitors will be treated to the sounds of patriotic music played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. The museum will be open for visitation from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on both days.

Finally, the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, located at 121 Duke of York St., will present "We Poor Devils," a series of specialized guided tours focusing on various aspects of "The Civil War: Five Delaware Soldiers' Stories," a display that explores the experiences of five of the more than 13,000 Delawareans who fought in the American Civil War. Tours will take place at 10 a.m., Noon and 2:30 p.m. on both July 4 and 7. The welcome center will be open for visitation from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on July 4, and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on July 7.

The state of Delaware's Independence Day programs in downtown Dover are presented in conjunction with "First Saturday in the First State," a monthly series of events sponsored by the First State Heritage Park. Admission for all programs is free and open to the public. For additional information, call the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries at 302-744-5055.


Interior display at the John Dickinson Plantation.


The historic John Dickinson Plantation, located at 340 Kitts Hummock Road, in Dover, Del., will feature a series of free arts programs during the months of July and August 2012. In the first program, elegant views of the plantation's buildings and grounds will serve as subjects for "Watercolor Wednesdays," a weekly program led by the plantation's interpretive staff in which visitors can paint scenes at the home of the "Penman of the Revolution." First initiated in January 2012 and back by popular demand, "Watercolor Wednesdays" will take place between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on July 11, 18 and 25; and Aug. 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29, 2012. A different scene will be featured each week. Visitors may bring their own art supplies or utilize basic materials provided by the plantation.

In the 2nd program, the plantation will present demonstrations of spinning, weaving, knitting and other fabric arts, conducted by members of the Thistledown Fiber Arts Guild, a Dover, Del.-based association of spinners, weavers, knitters and crocheters. Demonstrations will take place on Saturday, July 14 and Aug. 8, 2012 (and later, Sept. 8 and Nov. 10), from 1 to 3 p.m. The plantation will also be open for visitation and tours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission for all of the above-mentioned programs is free and open to people of all ages. For additional information, call 302-739-3277.


Sailor Joe demonstrating a block-and-tackle.


The adventure, romance, excitement and hardships experienced by 18th- and 19th-century seafarers will be brought to life at the Zwaanendael Maritime Festival: "A Sailor's Life for Me" that will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 14, 2012 at the Zwaanendael Museum located at 102 Kings Highway in Lewes, Del. The program is free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-645-1148.

"A Sailor's Life for Me" will provide opportunities for adults as well as children to experience the everyday lives of sailors by scrubbing the deck, learning about shipboard food, playing "Crown and Anchor" and Colonial games, exploring a vessel's cargo and the merchants who shipped it, creating a sailors' valentine and serving on a block-and-tackle station where visitors will be drilled by a demanding mariner looking for new crew members.

In addition, the following organizations will be presenting exhibits during the festival:


  • Lewes Historical Society—Display on Lewes maritime history.
  • Lewes Public Library—Information on services, programs and activities at the library.
  • Lightship Overfalls—Photo display on the restoration of the Overfalls plus buoyancy demonstrations.
  • University of Delaware—Information on various university programs and services.
  • Kalmar Nyckel—Model of the ship "Little Key," ship navigation and cannon drill demonstrations.
  • Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute—Marine mammal and sea turtle artifacts and photos.
  • Lewes Sea Scouts—Picture-board display, knot tying and block-and-tackle demonstrations
  • Indian River Life Saving Station—Breech's Buoy used to demonstrate life saving rescues, plus other display items.
  • Kids Co: Linda Jennings & Company—Face painting.

>

Signed copy of the Declaration of Independence on display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.


On Sunday, July 15, 2012 at 2 p.m., the New Castle Court House Museum, located at 211 Delaware St. in New Castle, Del., will present the program "Many Declarations of Independence." Admission to the museum, which will also be open for visitation between 1:30 and 4:30 p.m., is free and open to the public.

Led by historic-site interpreter Bob Vander Decker, the program will explore the many different copies and forms of the Declaration of Independence, adopted by the Continental Congress in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, which announced that the 13 American Colonies then at war with Great Britain were now independent states and thus, no longer a part of the British Empire. The most famous version of the declaration is a signed copy that is now displayed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. However, there were many more handwritten copies, as well as printed broadside-versions of the document commissioned by Congress and by the individual states. For additional information on the program, call 302-323-4453.