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Progress report on improvements to state-owned historic properties in New Castle


As part of its $350,000 New Castle Campus Improvement Plan, the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs has been conducting a series of projects at four state-owned historic properties that the agency administers in Delaware’s original capital city. Implementation of the plan began in March 2015 and work is scheduled to continue into the early part of 2016. New Castle residents and visitors may experience some inconveniences during this time including temporary restrictions on pedestrian access, and the presence of building equipment, materials and barriers. Every effort is being made to limit these inconveniences.

New Castle Court House. A number of capital improvements were made to the historic structure in the spring of 2015.
New Castle Court House. A number of capital improvements were made to the historic structure in the spring of 2015.

Following is a progress report on the projects as of mid-September 2015:

  • Completed ahead of schedule in mid-July, capital improvements to the New Castle Court House included replacement of the museum’s deteriorated terra-cotta roofing system, as well as cupola renovations, lightning-protection enhancements and weathervane gilding. Located at 211 Delaware St., the building was constructed in 1732 and later served as Delaware’s first court and state capitol. It now houses a museum operated by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs.
Worker installing shingles on the New Castle Court House roof in April 2015.
Worker installing shingles on the New Castle Court House roof in April 2015.
  • Design specifications have been completed that will provide entrance and first-floor accessibility for people with disabilities at the Arsenal located at 30 Market St. Implementation of the specifications is anticipated to take place in early 2016 and will include renovation of the south entry-door and first-floor restroom to meet current accessibility standards. The building’s metal roof will also be painted. Constructed in 1809 by the United States government as a storage place for weapons and ammunition, the Arsenal has served as a school building, restaurant and currently, as the headquarters of the New Castle Historical Society.
The Arsenal
The Arsenal
  • Reconstruction of the New Castle Academy’s garden wall is scheduled to begin in the last week of October and will take approximately three weeks to complete. Located at 31 E. Third St., the Academy was built in 1799 and served as a public school until 1930. The building is currently leased to Immanuel Episcopal Church which utilizes it for many church-related and community activities.
Workers disassembling the New Castle Academy’s garden wall in December 2014. The wall was in danger of collapse. It is scheduled to be reconstructed in the autumn of 2015.
Workers disassembling the New Castle Academy’s garden wall in December 2014. The wall was in danger of collapse. It is scheduled to be reconstructed in the autumn of 2015.
  • Ongoing stabilization of brick sidewalks on the New Castle Green will continue in the autumn of 2015 with improvements planned for three areas of this town commons that was laid out by the Dutch in 1655.
Aerial view of the New Castle Green. In the foreground is the New Castle Court House Museum, followed counterclockwise by the Arsenal, Immanuel Episcopal Church and the Academy. Photo by Bruce Burk.
Aerial view of the New Castle Green. In the foreground is the New Castle Court House Museum, followed counterclockwise by the Arsenal, Immanuel Episcopal Church and the Academy. Photo by Bruce Burk.

Founded by the Dutch under Peter Stuyvesant in 1651, the town that would later be called New Castle served as Delaware’s Colonial and state capital from 1704 until 1777. The city’s well-preserved historic district retains many original structures built between 1698 and 1873 representing a wide variety of architectural styles including Dutch Colonial, Georgian, Federal and Greek Revival. New Castle now serves as the headquarters of the First State National Historical Park.


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