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On July 19, 2016, Sen. Tom Carper and a group of dignitaries including Gov. Jack Markell, Delaware Secretary of State Jeff Bullock, First State National Historical Park Superintendent Ethan McKinley and Kalmar Nyckel Foundation President Robert Harra, Jr. conducted a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the re-opening of the Fort Christina National Historic Landmark.
Located at 1110 E. 7th St. in Wilmington, Del., Fort Christina National Historic Landmark is situated on the approximate site 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. A partner site in the First State National Historical Park, 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, Fort Christina had been closed to the public for over 10 years. However, thanks to a partnership between the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the First State National Historical Park and the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation, it was re-opened for the summer of 2016.
During his remarks, Carper noted, “I am so glad that after many years, Fort Christina—where the first Swedish and Finnish settlers landed over 375 years ago—has reopened for the public to enjoy. Now, visitors from all over the country—and the world—can come and learn about the important role Fort Christina played in the history of our nation. Thank you to the many partners and volunteers who made today possible.”
Following the ceremony, groups of volunteers fanned out to clean areas surrounding Fort Christina and the nearby Kalmar Nyckel Museum and parking lot, Old Swedes Church grounds and cemetery and the adjacent sidewalks along East Seventh Street.
The re-opening of Fort Christina National Historic 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, 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.
Fort Christina National Historic Landmark visitation hours through Sept. 5, 2016 are Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. In addition, the landmark will be open on Sunday and Monday, Sept. 4 and 5, for the Labor Day holiday. Admission is free and open to the public. For additional information on visitation, call the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation at 302-429-7447.