During the spring of 2016, visitors to historic New Castle will have an opportunity to see the impressive results of a year-long, $350,000 capital improvement plan that the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs implemented at four state-owned historic properties that the agency administers in Delaware’s original capital city. Implementation of the plan began in March 2015 with all improvements completed by April 2016.
Following is a summary of the completed projects:
Capital improvements to the Arsenal, located at 30 Market St., included reworking the building’s south entry door and renovation of the first-floor restroom in order to meet current accessibility standards for people with disabilities, completed in April 2016; and wood repairs and painting of the building’s cupola and metal roof, completed in the fall of 2015. 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.
Reconstruction of the New Castle Academy’sdeteriorating garden wall was completed in December 2015. The reconstruction consisted mainly of reusing the good facing bricks from the original wall supplemented, where needed, with newer matching bricks. As much of the original wood, stone and brick materials as possible were used in the reconstruction. 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.
As part of ongoing pedestrian-walkway maintenance, three sections of the New Castle Green were improved in late fall of 2015 including two areas of sidewalk along Third Street and one area of walkway on The Green near Delaware Street. The removal of existing pavers, leveling and preparation of the sub-grade and reinstallation of pavers is intended to address broken bricks, cracks and uneven surfaces and create a safe and stable walking surface on this town commons that was laid out by the Dutch in 1655.
Completed ahead of schedule in mid-July, 2015, capital improvements to the New Castle Court House Museum 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.
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. The New Castle Court House Museum and the New Castle Green are among seven components of the park which includes sites in all three of Delaware’s counties.