Members of the 1st Delaware Regiment, Delaware Militia. The living-history organization will be appearing at the 18th-Century Market Fair.
View from the Dover Green of The Old State House (left) and the Delaware Supreme Court building.
Harkening back more than 200 years to a time when The Green served as the hub of Dover's commercial and governmental activity, the First State Heritage Park will present its third annual 18th-Century Market Fair on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will feature a wide variety of activities in surrounding buildings, and outside on the grassy expanse of The Green located in historic downtown Dover, Del. Admission is free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-739-9194.
The 18th-Century Market Fair will feature historical interpreters and living-history re-enactors, dressed in period clothing, portraying a wide variety of merchants, craftsmen, artisans, public figures and ordinary citizens as they explore the goods, services and political attitudes that were common when The Green served as the city's primary marketplace. Other activities will include trades and craft demonstrations, entertainment, children's programs, animals, food and the sale of traditional products.
Dover's Green was laid out in 1717 in accordance with William Penn's orders of 1683. It was the location of early fairs and markets and later served as the site where the Declaration of Independence was read to the townspeople in 1776, and where a Continental regiment was mustered for service in the American Revolution. The 18th-Century Market Fair will celebrate the state's Revolutionary War soldiers with an appearance by the 1st Delaware Regiment, Delaware Militia, a living-history organization.
During the 18th and early 19th centuries, craftsmen and artisans such as cabinet makers, shoemakers, carpenters, tailors and hatters shared The Green with government officials and residents. The Green was also home to a number of taverns and inns including the Golden Fleece Tavern where representatives from Delaware's three counties ratified the United States Constitution on December 7, 1787, becoming the first state to do so. The 18th-Century Market Fair will celebrate this event with historical interpreters portraying Elizabeth Battell, mistress of the Golden Fleece Tavern, and Revolutionary war hero Allen McLane, a signer of the Ratification Document.
In 1787, the state of Delaware was in need of a facility to house governmental operations which had temporarily moved to Dover from New Castle during the Revolutionary War. Coincidentally, earlier that year, Kent County had begun construction of a grand Georgian-style structure, located on the eastern side of The Green, for the site of its county offices and court. In a move that many historians view as an effort to permanently cement state-government operations in Dover, Kent County offered to share its new building with the state. The offer was accepted and the first meeting of the state legislature took place in what is now known as The Old State House in 1791. The building served as the home of the Kent County courthouse until 1873, and as the seat for state government until 1933 when the General Assembly relocated to its current headquarters in Legislative Hall. Now operated as a museum by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, The Old State House will celebrate the 18th-Century Market Fair with special tours and appearances by historical re-enactors.
During the latter part of the 19th century, Dover's commercial center began migrating eastward to Loockerman Street. With the added relocation of most government agencies to other parts of the city, The Green gradually lost its prominent place in contemporary affairs. It remains however, the heart of Dover's historic district and is still the home of the Delaware Supreme Court and the Kent County Courthouse. With the 18th-Century Market Fair, visitors will have an opportunity to step back in time to experience the critical early years of The Green and the role that it played in the history of the state of Delaware.
Geoprobe being conducted in Wilmington's Fort Christina Park as the full-size replica of the Kalmar Nyckel sails by in the background.
On Sept. 28, 2012, 15 Geoprobe-drilling samples were drawn from the ground within Fort Christina Park in Wilmington as part of a project to determine the presence, nature and integrity of potential buried landscapes at the site. Managed by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the park is a national historic landmark that marks the location where colonists from the ships Kalmar Nyckel and Fogel Grip landed on a natural wharf of rocks in 1638 to found the colony of New Sweden, the first permanent European settlement in the Delaware Valley. Fort Christina, named after Queen Christina of Sweden, was built nearby. The Geoprobes were conducted in order to assess the site's potential as a source of archaeological evidence, and to determine the nature and level of contaminants that may be present in its soils. The investigation was conducted as part of the division's research and planning activities in advance of the 375th and 400th anniversaries of the founding of New Sweden.
The probes were conducted under the direction of the Site Investigation and Restoration Section of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) with a consulting geo-archaeologist from John Milner Associates on-site to participate in data collection. Results indicate no contamination present in any of the samples that would cause concern either for further investigation or passive public activities. Unfortunately, the probes were disappointing in the search for archaeological evidence of historical activities at the site. Further analysis will be necessary before final conclusions can be drawn.
Street scene in historic New Castle.
The Historic New Castle Alliance recently received a $15,000 way-finding grant from New Castle County that will create brown "Historic New Castle" signs on major throughways leading into the city, parking signs to minimize congestion, pedestrian way-finding planning/signage, a professionally produced trail/attractions map and a number of other services. The New Castle Court House Museum was a partner in the grant along with several other organizations in the community.
"Unwavering Courage in the Pursuit of Freedom" by Mario Chiodo. Photo by Tina Betz.
On Oct. 3, 2012, the City of Wilmington and the Riverfront Development Corporation hosted a ceremony in the city's Tubman/Garrett Riverfront Park celebrating the unveiling of Mario Chiodo's "Unwavering Courage in the Pursuit of Freedom," a sculpture of Harriet Tubman and Thomas Garrett, two important leaders of the Underground Railroad. During the event, the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) presented its plans for the Delaware section of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, a series of sites that traces one of the major routes used by Tubman in escorting slaves from Maryland, through Delaware, to relative safety in Pennsylvania. The Underground Railroad Coalition of Delaware, of which the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs is a member, played an important role in the development of the byway which includes stops at The Old State House and the New Castle Court House Museum.
Duke Ellington will be featured in the "Swing" program on Nov. 6.
"Landing of the DeVries Colony at Swaanendael, Lewes, Delaware 1631" by Stanley M. Arthurs. Courtesy of the permanent collection of the University of Delaware. Delaware's Dutch heritage will be explored in programs on Nov. 4 and 17.
Workshop on the making of hand-dipped candles (bottom center) will take place in the "Light Me Up" program on Nov.17.
During the month of November 2012, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be offering 13 special programs at the six museums that it operates across the state.
Highlights of the month include a pair of music programs at the Johnson Victrola Museum in Dover on Nov. 3 and 6 focusing on early Victor recordings of classical and swing music played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. The museum highlights the life and achievements of Delaware's native son, Eldridge Reeves Johnson, founder of the Victor Talking Machine Company which recorded many of the world's greatest musicians in the early 20th century including Enrico Caruso, Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Leopold Stokowski, Fats Waller and countless others.
Delaware's Dutch heritage, which began with the founding of the state's first European colony in Lewes in 1631, will be explored in a Nov. 4 program at the New Castle Court House Museum and a Nov. 17 Dutch-American Heritage Day program at Lewes' Zwaanendael Museum in which Jonathan De Jonge portrays Sinterklaas, the traditional holiday figure of the Netherlands and patron saint of mariners.
"Light Me Up," an illuminating workshop on traditional candle-dipping will take place on Nov. 17 at Dover's John Dickinson Plantation. Activities will explore candle-dipping techniques and lighting devices that would have been used during the 18th century when John Dickinson was in residence at the plantation. Visitors will have an opportunity to dip their own candles which can then be taken home.
Following is a complete listing of the division's special programming during the month:
Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012
"Some Like Classical." First Saturday in the First State program explores some of Victor Records' earliest recordings of classical music played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover, DE 19901. 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Free admission. 302-744-5055.
Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012
"18th Century Market Fair." Program explores an era when The Green served as the focal point of life in Dover as historical interpreters explore the goods, wares and political attitudes of the 1700s. Sponsored by the First State Heritage Park. The Green, Dover, DE 19901. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Free admission. 302-744-5055.
Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012
"Dutch-American Heritage." First Sunday program explores the contributions the Dutch have made to the economic, social, political and cultural life of Delaware and the United States, and the historical relationship between the two nations. New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle, DE 19720. Program at 2 p.m. Museum open 1:30-4:30 p.m. Free admission. 302-323-4453.
Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012
"Cast a Vote." In celebration of Election Day, tours will explore Delaware's earliest elections. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover, DE 19901. 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Free admission. 302-744-5055.
Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012
"Swing." Enjoy the sounds of swing music played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover, DE 19901. 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Free admission. 302-744-5055.
Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012
"We Poor Devils." Guided tours exploring the display "The Civil War: Five Delaware Soldiers' Stories." First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, 121 Duke of York St., Dover, DE 19901. Tours at 10 a.m., Noon and 3 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Free admission. 302-744-5055.
Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012
"The Mid-Del Sax Quartet." Performances celebrate the birthday of Adolphe Sax, inventor of the saxophone. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover, DE 19901. Concerts at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Free admission. 302-744-5055.
Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012
Demonstrations by the Thistledown Fiber Arts Guild. Program explores spinning, weaving, knitting and other fabric arts. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover 19901. Program 1-3 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Free admission. 302-739-3277.
Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012
"Vanishing Voices of WW II: Southern Delaware's Humble Heroes." Screening of film by James Diehl followed by a discussion with the filmmaker. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes, DE 19958. Program at 2 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations for the film are required by calling 302-645-1148 no later than Nov. 3, 2012.
Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012
"Veterans Remembered." One-hour walking tours encompassing grave sites and residences of United States veterans from the American Revolution to the present day. New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle, DE 19720. Tours depart at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. Museum open 1:30-4:30 p.m. Free admission but advance registration requested. 302-323-4453.
Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012
"Light Me Up!" Workshop on candle dipping and discussion of lighting devices of the 18th century. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover, DE 19901. Workshop 1-3 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations for the workshop are required by calling 302-739-3277 no later than Nov. 16, 2012.
Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012
Dutch-American Heritage Day. Learn about Sinterklaas as Jonathan De Jonge portrays the traditional holiday figure of the Netherlands and patron saint of mariners. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes, DE 19958. Program at 2 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations for the program are required by calling 302-645-1148 no later than Nov. 10, 2012.
Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012
"Hospitality Night." Swedish holiday-themed program featuring Ellie Leuliett who will share her Swedish holiday decor collection; Tomte, the Swedish Christmas-elf who gives treats to good children; plus seasonal refreshments. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes, DE 19958. 6-9 p.m. Free admission. 302-645-1148.
Mansion house at the John Dickinson Plantation.
Calling on all who love history, the Friends of the John Dickinson Mansion recently launched a membership drive to increase their support and preservation of the historic John Dickinson Plantation, the boyhood home and country estate of one of the United States' most esteemed founding fathers, president of Delaware under the state constitution of 1776 and signer of the U.S. Constitution. The plantation, which is operated as a museum by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, is located at 340 Kitts Hummock Road in Dover, Del.
A nonprofit, charitable organization dedicated to the extension of knowledge about Dickinson and his historic home, the Friends of the John Dickinson Mansion has been instrumental in commissioning many projects including biographies, research, educational films and events. In 2011, the organization funded the production of a documentary film about Dickinson for broadcast on Public Broadcasting Service stations. A new longer, more detailed version of this film will be broadcast in the coming months.
"Our mission for more than half a century has been to provide support to the state of Delaware's efforts to preserve and maintain the home of John Dickinson, the 'Penman of the Revolution,'" said Tom Jackson, president of the Friends of the John Dickinson Mansion. "Now, more than ever, our organization is needed and appreciated. For a small contribution, we invite like-minded individuals and families to join us or give a membership as a gift to a friend."
Benefits of membership in the Friends of the John Dickinson Mansion include an annual meeting and many exciting events at the plantation throughout the year; first-hand updates on historical, archeological and architectural research in the state; and discounts on the rental of state-owned historical properties such as the Buena Vista Conference Center.
As part of the membership drive, all new members will receive an attractive magnetic logo of the John Dickinson Plantation and a calendar of events for the upcoming year. Membership levels include: Student $10, Individual $15, Family $20, Contributing $25, Sponsor $50 and Patron $100. For additional information about the Friends of the John Dickinson Mansion, call Dr. Andrea Pedigo at 302-228-4228.