The New Castle Court House Museum, located at 211 Delaware St. in New Castle, Del., is now open for visitation seven days a week during the time period between June 1, 2014 and Sept. 30, 2014. Hours of operation are as follows: Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; and Sunday, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. The museum will also be open between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on the following state holidays: Independence Day (Friday, July 4, 2014) and Labor Day (Monday, Sept. 1, 2014). For additional information about visiting the museum, call 302-323-4453.
Funding for the expanded schedule was provided by the federal government as part of an agreement between the National Park Service, which manages the First State National Monument, and the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, which manages the New Castle Court House Museum. The agreement seeks to collaboratively promote the preservation, interpretation and public use of the court house; and to expand its days of operation so that they conform with the park service’s policy of keeping its units open seven days a week during the summer. The museum is normally closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and state holidays.
One of the oldest and most historic courthouses in the United States, the New Castle Court House (main section built in 1732) served as Delaware’s first court and state capitol. Here in 1776, New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties declared their independence from Pennsylvania and England creating the Delaware State. The museum features tours and exhibits that illustrate Delaware’s unique boundaries, law and government and the Underground Railroad.
Established by President Obama in 2013, the First State National Monument is the 400th unit of the national park system and the first to be located in the state of Delaware. It is comprised of three of Delaware’s most historic areas including the Dover Green, the New Castle Court House complex (including the court house, Green and Sheriff’s House); and the Woodlawn property in the Brandywine Valley. The national monument shines a spotlight on Delaware’s rich history including its Native American roots; early settlement by Dutch, Swedish, Finnish and English colonists; its participation in America’s struggle for independence; and its distinction as the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
In the future, the national monument’s visitor center and headquarters will be housed in the Sheriff’s House, a historic property located next to the court house that was formerly owned by the state of Delaware and administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. In 2013, the Sheriff’s House was transferred to the federal government as part of the process which created the national monument. The New Castle Court House and New Castle Green continue to be owned by the state and administered by the division.
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