The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs has recently welcomed four new members to its staff including two historic-site interpreters at the Zwaanendael Museum, and two new members of the agency’s Preservation Maintenance Team. Following are profiles of these newest members of the division family.
As historic-site interpreters who conduct tours and special programs at the Zwaanendael Museum, Abigail Davis and Fran Mahon help bring to life the Lewes-area’s maritime, military and social history. A life-long resident of the First Town in the First State, Davis loves to share Lewes history with visitors—so much so, that she holds a second job at the Lewes Historical Society. When not at work, she is pursuing her bachelor’s degree from Wilmington University and eventually hopes to earn a graduate degree in forensic anthropology or archaeology. She is particularly interested in historic textiles and enjoys appearing in period clothing.
Originally from El Paso, Texas, Mahon attended high school in Fairfax, Va. and now lives in Lewes, Del. He graduated from the University of Delaware in May 2018 with both a bachelor’s degree in art history and a bachelor’s degree with distinction in anthropology. Mahon has wide-ranging archaeological experience including participation in field schools in St. Augustine, Fla. and on the Dutch Caribbean island of St. Eustatius. With interests in maritime- as well as African- and African-American-history, he helped organize a three-day program in Delaware featuring the Slave Dwelling Project, and has conducted research for the Zwaanendael Museum which resulted in a presentation entitled, “Painting a Portrait: Crystals and Hoodoo Aboard the H.M.S. DeBraak.” He is currently in the process of creating a brochure for the museum tentatively titled, “Seafarers of Salt: Black Sailors, the Sea, and Their Lives.”
With more than 120 years of combined experience in various trades, the Preservation Maintenance Team can handle any challenge that comes its way in order to maintain, repair and preserve the nearly 90 structures administered by the division. After a brief hiatus, Chris Conley returned to the team in July 2018 as a Physical Plant Trades Mechanic II. A graduate of Lake Forest High School in Felton, Del., he previously worked for a variety of Delaware organizations including service as a member of the installation team for Artisan’s Marble and Granite in Newark, as a machine operator for the HandyTube Corporation in Camden and as a construction worker. In 2017, Conley was part of a group of Preservation Maintenance Team members who received a Delaware Award for Heroism from Gov. John Carney for their efforts in helping to save the life of one of their fellow employees.
Physical Plant Trades Mechanic I Keith Sands is currently assigned to the Buena Vista conference/event center near New Castle, Del. Sands comes to the division after a nearly 30-year career at the former General Motors assembly plant in Wilmington where he rose to the position of team leader. He has also worked in cleaning and maintenance at a variety of oil refineries and chemical plants and, immediately prior to joining the division, worked for nearly three years in grounds maintenance at White Clay Creek State Park near Newark, Del. The Bear, Del. resident is originally from New Castle and is a graduate of Delcastle Technical High School.