Delaware Breakwater East End Lighthouse to be repainted

Delaware Breakwater East End Lighthouse

(DOVER, Del.—July 10, 2020)—In early summer 2020, contractors began the process of repainting the Delaware Breakwater East End Lighthouse located on the inner breakwater in the harbor of Lewes, Del. The lighthouse is owned by the State of Delaware and administered by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. The project, which is expected to be completed before summer’s end, includes removal of old paint and rust, and repainting the entire exterior of the structure above its concrete foundation. Paint colors will replicate the existing red-brown and black.

Repainting the lighthouse will involve the presence of scaffolding, equipment, materials and workers on the breakwater as well as the usual noises that go with construction work during daytime hours.

No public access to the lighthouse or the breakwater will be permitted during the project. Under normal conditions, access to the breakwater and lighthouse is prohibited except for accompanied visits conducted by Cape Water Tours which will not resume until the project is completed.


About the Delaware Breakwater East End Lighthouse …

In 1825, Congress authorized the construction of a breakwater at the mouth of the Delaware Bay off Cape Henlopen in order to create a safe harbor for ships seeking refuge during storms. Begun in 1828 and completed in 1841, the Delaware Breakwater was a two-part structure comprised of a breakwater and an icebreaker pier. In 1897, the open space between these two sections was closed. Due to an increase in the size and number of ships seeking refuge in Breakwater Harbor, Congress authorized the construction of a 2nd breakwater approximately 1.25 miles to the northeast of the Delaware Breakwater on a shoal known as “The Shears.” Completed in 1901, this new, outer breakwater created a much larger and deeper safe harbor called the National Harbor of Refuge.

Located on the original inner breakwater, the Delaware Breakwater East End Lighthouse was completed in 1885. The red-brown conical structure is 22 feet in diameter at the base with a 45-foot-tall tower. It was decommissioned in 1996 and was formally conveyed by the United States government to the State of Delaware in 1999. It is as contributing resource of the Delaware Breakwaters and Lewes Harbor, listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, and the National Harbor of Refuge and Delaware Breakwater Harbor Historic District, listed in the National Register in 1989.

 

The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs is an agency of the State of Delaware. The division enhances Delaware’s quality of life by preserving the state’s unique historical heritage, fostering community stability and economic vitality and providing educational programs and assistance to the general public on Delaware history. The division’s diverse array of services includes operation of five museums which are accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, administration of the State Historic Preservation Office, conservation of the state’s archaeological and historic-objects collections, operation of a conference center and management of historic properties across the state. Primary funding for division programs and services is provided by annual appropriations from the Delaware General Assembly and grants from the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, a federal agency. However, the contents and opinions expressed in the division’s programs and services do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Department of the Interior.

-End-
Contact:
Jim Yurasek
Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs
Phone: 302-739-7787
E-mail: Jim.Yurasek@delaware.gov
Web: http://history.delaware.gov


Parker’s Dairy Palace in New Castle, Del. added to the National Register of Historic Places

(DOVER, Del.—Oct. 28, 2019)—Patrons of Parker’s Dairy Palace can now have a designated slice of history with their soft ice cream as the 1950s-vintage ice cream stand has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the U.S. government’s official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects deemed worthy of preservation.

Photo of the Dairy Palace at dusk
Parker’s Dairy Palace at dusk with its neon sign blazing

Located on Route 141 across from the New Castle Airport in New Castle, Del., the Dairy Palace was originally built in 1954 as a Dairy Queen franchise licensed to Ernest Overby. In 1956, it was acquired by Vince and Joyce Parker and has remained a family enterprise ever since. After learning that Dairy Queen corporate officials wanted to modernize their existing buildings, the Parkers chose to purchase their franchised property in 1970 with an eye toward preserving its original appearance.

Photo of Joyce Parker
Joyce Parker at the Dairy Palace in the 1950s

Today’s Dairy Palace retains the Dairy Queen enterprise’s original characteristics including a modern-looking one-story building with a façade characterized by a large plate-glass window wall, a flat roof featuring overhanging eaves, an iconic neon sign featuring a tilted ice cream cone with a swirl on top, a parking lot and walk-up customer service windows. After severing ties with Dairy Queen, the Parkers replaced the word “Queen” with the word “Palace” on the building’s main signage.

Photo of the Dairy Palace during the day
Parker’s Dairy Palace. Photo courtesy of the University of Delaware Center for Historic Architecture and Design

The history of the Dairy Palace correlates with the story of suburban development in America as well as with increased interest in transportation during the post-World War II era and the emerging popularity of roadside food stands. Travelling motorists and residents moving into suburban developments desired additional dining options. Thus commercial ventures such as family-style and dine-in restaurants as well as drive-ins emerged on the landscape. Parker’s Dairy Palace is the best-known surviving example of a 1950s drive-in/walk-up soft serve ice cream stand remaining in New Castle County, Del.

Parker’s Dairy Palace National Register nomination, listed on Oct. 15, 2019, was prepared by the University of Delaware’s Center for Historic Architecture and Design. Funding for this preservation project was provided by the National Park Service through a Historic Preservation Fund sub-grant awarded to a Certified Local Government (New Castle County) and managed by the Delaware State Historic Preservation Office. The nomination was recommended for listing in the National Register by the New Castle County Historic Review Board and Delaware’s State Review Board for Historic Preservation, and then forwarded to National Park Service which approved the listing.

The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs is an agency of the State of Delaware. The division enhances Delaware’s quality of life by preserving the state’s unique historical heritage, fostering community stability and economic vitality and providing educational programs and assistance to the general public on Delaware history. The division’s diverse array of services includes operation of five museums which are accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, administration of the State Historic Preservation Office, conservation of the state’s archaeological and historic-objects collections, operation of a conference center and management of historic properties across the state. Primary funding for division programs and services is provided by annual appropriations from the Delaware General Assembly and grants from the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, a federal agency. However, the contents and opinions expressed in the division’s programs and services do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Department of the Interior.

-End-

Contact:
Jim Yurasek
Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs
Phone: 302-739-7787
E-mail: Jim.Yurasek@delaware.gov
Web: http://history.delaware.gov


Historic preservation symposium to take place in Dover, Del. on June 26, 2019

(DOVER, Del.—June 5, 2019)—The Delaware State Historic Preservation Office, in collaboration with preservation partners Friends of the John Dickinson Mansion and Preservation Delaware, invites the public to attend a special historic preservation symposium. As part of the day’s activities, speakers from the National Park Service and the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office will discuss disaster preparedness, issues regarding elevating historic properties in flood-prone areas and National Register of Historic Places nominations.

The symposium will take place on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 in the Delaware Room of the Delaware Public Archives located at 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. North in Dover, Del. Admission is free, but, due to limited seating, reservations are required by calling the Delaware State Historic Preservation Office at 302-736-7400. The office is open between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Reservations are due by June 19, 2019.

Flooding along Union Street in front of the Milton Theatre in Milton, Del. after the March 1962 nor’easter. Disaster preparedness for historic properties will be explored as part of the upcoming historic preservation symposium.
Flooding along Union Street in front of the Milton Theatre in Milton, Del. after the March 1962 nor’easter. Disaster preparedness for historic properties will be explored as part of the upcoming historic preservation symposium.

The Milton Theatre today. The building is a component of the Milton Historic District.
The Milton Theatre today. The building is a component of the Milton Historic District.

Symposium agenda

9:00–9:15 a.m.
Welcoming remarks
Tim Slavin, Delaware State Historic Preservation Officer and Director, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs

9:15–10:15 a.m.
“Using Criterion A in National Register of Historic Places Nominations”
Lisa Deline, Architectural Historian, National Park Service
Ms. Deline, reviewer of Delaware nominations to the National Register of Historic Places, will provide updated information about the effective use of Criterion A which represents the quality of significance present in historic properties that are associated with events important to broad patterns of American history.

10:15–10:45 a.m.
Question and answer session with Lisa Deline

10:45–11:00 a.m.
Break

11:00–11:45 a.m.
“Lessons Learned: Prepare Now for Future Weather Events”
Reid Thomas, Restoration Specialist, North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office
Mr. Thomas will showcase some of the weather-related situations that he encountered during his 29 years of service within the northeastern region of North Carolina.

11:45 a.m.–Noon
Question and answer session with Reid Thomas

Noon–1:45 p.m.
Lunch on your own
List of restaurants and map to be provided.

1:45–2:30 p.m.
“The Ups and Down of Elevation: Case Studies of the Elevation of Historic Buildings in North Carolina”
John Wood, Preservation/Restoration Specialist, North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office
Mr. Wood will discuss his extensive experience in historic preservation and restoration projects within the southeastern region of North Carolina.

2:30–2:45 p.m.
Question and answer session with John Wood

3:00–4:30 p.m.
Reception at the John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover
The Friends of the John Dickinson Mansion will host an informal get together after the symposium.

Administered as a museum by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the John Dickinson Plantation, Delaware’s first National Historic Landmark, was the childhood home of John Dickinson, a founding father of the United States, a framer and signer of the U.S. Constitution and “Penman of the Revolution.” The museum is a partner site in both the First State National Historical Park and the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs is an agency of the State of Delaware. The division enhances Delaware’s quality of life by preserving the state’s unique historical heritage, fostering community stability and economic vitality and providing educational programs and assistance to the general public on Delaware history and heritage. The division’s diverse array of services includes operation of five museums, administration of the State Historic Preservation Office, conservation of the state’s archaeological and historic-objects collections, operation of a conference center and management of historic properties across the state. Primary funding for division programs and services is provided by annual appropriations from the Delaware General Assembly and grants from the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, a federal agency. However, the contents and opinions expressed in the division’s programs and services do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Department of the Interior.

-End-

Contact:
Jim Yurasek
Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs
Phone: 302-739-7787
E-mail: Jim.Yurasek@delaware.gov
Web: http://history.delaware.gov


Site of Purported African-American Cemetery Discovered

DOVER – Archaeologists working at a property near Frankford, Sussex County, have discovered the site of a cemetery known to the local community to contain the remains of African Americans who lived in the area.

Under the observation of an archaeologist from the Delaware State Historic Preservation Office, archaeologists employed by a private landowner delineated 11 graves at the site, known as the Orr Property or Hall Plantation.

A headstone was also found at the site bearing the name C.S. Hall and the lines “Co. K, 32nd U.S.C.T.” (an abbreviation for U.S. Colored Troops, the designation for units comprised of African American soldiers during the Civil War.)

The headstone has not been correlated to a specific grave, and no further information is yet known about the identities of the burials at the site. The presence of the remains of enslaved persons has not yet been confirmed through archaeology or review of the historical record.

“This cemetery is a significant discovery for the community and for all Delawareans who value and appreciate our state’s rich history,” said Tim Slavin, director of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, which oversees the State Historic Preservation Office. “As work continues at the site, we hope to learn more about those who are interred there, so that they may be properly memorialized and their personal stories retold.”

The State Historic Preservation Office will offer guidance, advice and supervision as the landowner continues archaeological work at the site. Though the site is located on private property, the state will take an active role in ensuring that the ongoing archaeological investigation is thorough, professional and carried out in an ethical and responsible manner.

The landowner was an active participant in the gathering of local information about the site, and has indicated that the cemetery will be preserved. The state will work closely with the landowner to determine a plan for preservation.

“I would also like to thank the neighbors nearby for their role in calling attention to the presence of a cemetery here,” Slavin said. “Their recollections and local knowledge about the site and its location were key to discovering these burials. They spoke up, and thanks to them we can add a new page to Delaware history.”


Delaware to Acquire Cooch’s Bridge Site, Continue Search for Remains of Revolutionary Soldiers Killed in Battle

COOCH’S BRIDGE – Hallowed grounds believed to be the final resting place of some two dozen American soldiers who perished in the only major battle of the Revolutionary War fought in Delaware will soon become property of the state’s historic preservation agency, according to an agreement announced Friday.

Gathered at the historic Cooch home just south of Newark, officials from the Department of State joined members of the Cooch family to announce plans for the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs to acquire the home and surrounding property at the heart of the Cooch’s Bridge battlefield.

In addition to providing a new public resource for future generations of Delawareans to learn the story of the Battle of Cooch’s Bridge, the acquisition of the site will also allow for continued archaeological study of the property in an effort to locate the unmarked graves of the Americans who gave their lives there.

The agreement is the latest illustration of the Cooch family’s ongoing commitment to preserving the rich history of their lands, acquired by Thomas Cooch in 1746 and held in the family for nine generations since.

“Our father, Edward W. Cooch, Jr., would be very pleased with this announcement,” said Richard R. Cooch and Anne Cooch Doran. “He always said that he hoped that if the family house and battlefield, which he worked hard to preserve, ever left the Cooch family, that the property would be acquired by the State.”

“We as Delawareans are so fortunate to have such a variety of fascinating and beautiful historical sites up and down our state, and we should be proud of all the effort and cooperation that has allowed us to preserve another quintessential piece of our state’s history here at Cooch’s Bridge,” said Secretary of State Jeff Bullock. “I want to thank all the partners that came together to make this possible, with particular gratitude to Dick Cooch and Anne Cooch Doran for choosing to share this site with their fellow citizens.”

The acquisition includes the historic Cooch home, its adjacent outbuildings and 10 acres of surrounding property. The site will be purchased using $875,000 from the Delaware Open Space Council, plus $200,000 from the Crystal Trust and $25,000 from the Marmot Foundation (both independent, private philanthropic organizations based in Delaware.) Twenty percent of the sale proceeds will be donated by the Cooch family to the Cooch’s Bridge Historic District Fund administered by the Delaware Community Foundation. The fund, established by Edward W. Cooch, Jr., helps support maintenance and preservation efforts.

“The announcement of the permanent preservation of Delaware’s only Revolutionary War battlefield is another key example of the responsible stewardship for our shared history that we continue to practice here in our state,” said Tim Slavin, director of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. “Next, we will begin to develop, with community input, a long-term vision for how these lands will be interpreted and made accessible to the public.”

The Cooch’s Bridge site also holds the potential to be among Delaware’s most sacred places. Written accounts from the 18th century cite the burial of approximately two dozen American soldiers on the Cooch farm after the battle.

The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs launched an investigation into these accounts and, this summer, a team of archaeologists from Indiana University of Pennsylvania conducted on-site testing using ground-penetrating radar. Their initial findings have identified several areas which will now be investigated more thoroughly by archaeological excavation.

“The Cooch property is a remarkable tract with a remarkable story. The cultural history of the land encompasses not only resources that can be observed in the landscape, but also those items found below ground – the important and fragile archaeological record which provides information about the history of a place not found in texts or written documents,” said historical archaeologist Wade P. Catts. “Thanks to the Cooch family and their generations of stewardship, the Cooch’s Bridge battlefield is in excellent condition, retaining its context and integrity, and the story of the battle can be told to visitors.”