Fort Christina National Historic Landmark, located at 1110 E. 7th St. in Wilmington, Del., has re-opened for public visitation between May 28 and Sept. 5, 2016 thanks to a partnership between the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the First State National Historical Park and the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation. Regular visitation hours during that time period are Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. In addition to its regular hours, the landmark will be open on Sundays and Mondays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., on the following holiday weekends: Memorial Day (May 28 and 30) and Labor Day (Sept. 4 and 5). Admission is free and open to the public. For additional information on visitation, call the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation at 302-429-7447.
Fort Christina National Historic Landmark marks the approximate location where a group of Swedish and Finnish colonists from the ships Kalmar Nyckel and Fogel Grip landed on a natural wharf of rocks in 1638. Named Fort Christina after the then 12-year-old queen of Sweden, it was the first Swedish settlement in America and the first permanent non-native settlement in Delaware. The landmark is owned by the state of Delaware and administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs.
Due to safety/security concerns and financial-resource constraints, the landmark had been padlocked and closed to the public for over 10 years and had only been open for special events. In December 2014, this historic site became one of seven components of the First State National Historical Park. With its re-opening for the summer of 2016, one of the cornerstones of Delaware history is again accessible to visitors traveling to the First State, to residents looking to learn more about Delaware’s rich cultural heritage and to all those who simply seek a green space in an urban environment.
Commenting on the re-opening of the landmark, Ethan McKinley, superintendent of the First State National Historical Park noted, “The National Park Service is thrilled that the gates of Fort Christina National Historic Landmark will swing open for the general public in 2016. The site is a key piece of Delaware and the nation’s history. It marks the landing spot of the Kalmar Nyckel in 1638 and was christened as a park by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1938.”
The re-opening of the landmark is part of a larger effort to create a first class historical and cultural destination on Wilmington’s East Seventh Street peninsula. This effort includes integrating and developing the historic and cultural attractions of the Kalmar Nyckel shipyard, Fort Christina National Historic Landmark, Old Swedes Church and the Hendrickson House, along with the Christina River water taxi and other Riverfront attractions. Organizations working to bring this dream to fruition include the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation, the National Park Service, Old Swedes Foundation and the Riverfront Development Corporation.