DELAWARE VISITORS CENTER

 

The Delaware State Visitor Center staff assists tourists, newcomers and Delawareans alike, by providing information on local and statewide attractions, events, and activities. Maps and printed materials are available as well as a History Store featuring a wide range of distinctive gifts and Delaware souvenirs. Some Delaware History information and maps can be downloaded through the Visitor Center’s Homework Help section. There are two galleries that showcase changing exhibits throughout the year, focusing on various aspects of Delaware history and culture.

The Delaware State Visitor Center is open free of charge, although donations are accepted.

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Educational Group Tours

Unlock the Key to History with the Delaware State Visitor Center. The Delaware State Visitor Center features a changing exhibit gallery, museum store, public restrooms, a general information center, and presentation room. Scheduled group tours participate in a variety of interactive programs complementing exhibits within the building as well as other facilities administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs.

Call the Delaware State Visitor Center at (302) 739-4266 to confirm group tour reservations and obtain information about interative/special focus tours offered at the Visitor Center, State House, Delaware Archaeology Museum, Delaware Museum of Small Town Life, and the Johnson Victrola Museum.

The Changing Exhibit Gallery(adults/students; 30 minutes): Experience a variety of thematic displays showcasing events and miscellaneous activities associated with Delaware History and culture. Inquire about the latest exhibit and its related programmatic activities.

State Symbols(students grades Pre-K – 2: 20 minutes): Highlights information about Delaware symbols and their significance.

School group tours complement Delaware’s Social Studies Content Standards.

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Homework Help

Please note: Microsoft Word or Adobe Reader are required to view these pages. You may download MS Word Reader or Adobe Reader for free.

A handout filled with facts about Delaware’s State Seal:

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See the words and listen to Delaware’s State Song:

Delaware State Song

Fun facts about the First State and Delaware’s symbols:

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Get a Delaware Map

Adobe .PDF Format

The fascinating history of Delaware:

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A Delaware history timeline:

Delaware: A Historic View

Delaware Map of Hundreds in Existence Between 1700 and 1800

 

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History Stores

Take home a piece of Delaware! Our History Stores are chock-full of Delaware souvenirs, books, educational items and gifts to complement your museum tour.

The Delaware State Visitor Center History Store offers visitors to Delaware a chance to purchase items depicting Delaware’s State symbols, Delaware’s history, and Delaware’s points of interest. Did you know that the ladybug is Delaware’s State insect?

Books on Victrolas or E.R. Johnson, Nipper items, authentic magazine advertisements depicting Victrolas, and records are some of the items available at the Johnson Victrola History Store.

Maritime offerings such as Lighthouse prints and posters, books on ships, games and jewelry as well asHMB DeBraak memorabilia can be purchased at the Zwaanendael History Store.

The John Dickinson Plantation History Store purveys books depicting farm-life in the early 1800’s, colonial souvenirs and games, history books and hand-dipped candles.

Colonial items and games, Delaware and African American history books, souvenirs and jewelry help make up the assemblage of merchandise located at the New Castle Court House History Store.

The mission of the History Stores is the enhancement of the educational mission of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs by providing items to the visiting public that relate to Delaware history and the collections, exhibits and programs of our museums. The proceeds from the sales are dedicated to the funding of exhibits, programs and publications by the Division. We accept Mastercard, Visa, Discover, and personal checks for your convenience.

If you have any questions, or require further information, please feel free to email or call (302) 739-4266.

Thank you for your patronage!

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Directions: Located at 406 Federal Street in Dover. Visitors may reach the Visitor Center by taking the Court Street exit from Routes 13 and 113. At the second stop sign, go straight into the parking lot.

Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Open most holidays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; please call to confirm. Hours subject to change.

Fee: Admission is free. Donations are accepted.

Services: Museum shop. Restrooms and vending machines. Handicap accessible.

Special Events: Participation in Old Dover Days, first weekend in May.

Tours: Group tours require a reservation. For more information call (302)739-4266

 

THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

 

Delaware State Museums offer exhibits and tours that focus on slavery in Delaware between the 1770s and 1840s. The John Dickinson Plantation, near Dover, is the childhood home of John Dickinson, “Penman of the American Revolution” and a signer of the Federal Constitution. Tours summarize documented information about the family’s slaveholding practices and manumission activities during the late 1700s. Lifestyles of the Dickinson family, tenants, and free blacks who resided in the Jones Neck area are presented through thematic presentations at this historic site which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated as a National Historic Landmark.

The New Castle Court House Museum, located in the center of the historic community of New Castle, hosts an exhibit titled “Flight to Freedom” and offers well-documented tours highlighting Underground Railroad activities including information about slave catchers, bounty hunters, abolitionists, Federal and State laws, trials and speeches. The Federal District Court Trials of Thomas Garrett and John Hunn, well-known regional abolitionists and stationmasters occurred at this site in 1848. Having been accused of aiding and abetting runaways from Queen Anne’s County, Maryland namely the Hawkins family and four other adults, was well as violating Fugitive Slave Acts, these men were found guilty during a trial presided over by the United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney and punished accordingly. This site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is designated as a National Historic Landmark.

The State House Museum, located on The Green in Dover, offers tours emphasizing laws, court activities, and information about Kent Country’s slaves and free Black population during the late 1700s and early 1800s. Interactive programs such as “Trial of the Missing Mercantile Money” provide insight into Delaware’s judicial practices and the exclusion of slave witnesses during an 1800 court case. The State level court trial of Samuel D. Burris, Negro Conductor of the Underground Railroad held in 1847, details information about Burris’ activities associated with the aiding and abetting of runaway slaves. His dramatic efforts and subsequent imprisionment are brought to light through a program titled “A Crime Next to That of Murder”, which is an actual phrase written by Samuel D. Burris describing the nature of his crime. The State House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

Welcome to the Division of Historical & Cultural Affairs

Preserving Delaware’s heritage and showcasing the historic legacy of our state are the guiding principles of our agency. Through active historic preservation efforts, engaging educational programs, stimulating exhibits, and superior customer service, the Division is committed to enhancing Delaware’s quality of life by helping people connect with those aspects of our past that have made this state what it is today.

 

Where do you want to go?

 

• Visit our Museums & Historic Sites

• Historic Preservation (State Historic Preservation Office)

• The Newsroom

• Education Center

• Exhibits & Collections

• State Conference Centers

• Archaeology Corner

• In the Gardens

• This Day in Delaware History

 

 

 

THE ZWAANENDAEL MUSEUM

The Zwaanendael Museum in Lewes, was built in 1931 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the first European settlement in Delaware. Delaware’s roots lie in its Dutch connection. The state’s first European colony, “Swaanendael” began in the spring of 1631 as a fort established along present-day Lewes-Rehoboth canal by the Dutch West India Company. Twenty-eight men were sent to organize a whaling station, grow tobacco and engage in fur trade with the Native Americans. Although the colony lasted less than three years, the Dutch resettled it in 1658. The British took possession of the area in 1664 and it remained under British colonial rule until Independence. Located a mile from the Museum, the fort site is marked with a granite monument.

Administered by Delaware State Museums, Zwaanendael Museum is a careful adaption of the town hall in Hoorn, Holland. A special feature at the museum is the exciting account of HM Brig DeBraak, a Dutch built vessel under British command that sank off the coast of Lewes in a violent storm in 1798. The vessel and its contents lay at the ocean’s floor for nearly two hundred years, until located in 1984. Some 20,000 recovered artifacts in multiple states of preservation are studied and carefully conserved. Together with documentation of the time, they are used in small exhibit areas to tell the rich and unparalleled story of English navy life aboard a small 18th century working class vessel.

The Zwaanendael Museum, located at 102 Kings Highway, is open six days a week. The hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10-4:30; Sunday 1:30-4:30. It is closed on Mondays and State Holidays. A museum store is available for the convenience of visitors. No admission is charged, but donations are accepted for the use of conservation projects and educational programs.

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The History of the Zwaanendael Museum

The Zwaanendael Museum was built as a museum by the State of Delaware in 1931 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the 1631 Swaanendael settlement. The design is a careful adaptation of the old statdhuis (City Hall) in Hoorn, the Netherlands. Architecture of the building is typical of the Dutch style step-gable buildings that can be seen in cities and towns in the Netherlands and the roof is constructed of terra-cotta (baked clay) tiles. The very top of the front of the building features a sandstone statue of David Petersen DeVries. The face of the building is decorated with intricate sandstone carvings, such as the Coat of Arms of Hoorn, the Netherlands.

Zwaandael Museum contains exhibits that tell of Southeastern Sussex County’s exciting maritime history. Visit and learn stories about the ill-fated Swaanendael Settlement; the H.M. Brig DeBraak; 1767 Cape Henlopen Lighthouse; Bombardment of Lewes during the War of 1812; and Pilots of Bay and River Delaware.

Admission is free. A division of Delaware State Museums’ History Store features items for sale that relate to Delaware’s heritage.

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Educational Programs

The Zwaanendael Museum features exhibits and programs that illustrate and interpret aspects about Sussex County’s rich history. Information about the Dutch settlement of Lewes in 1631, the 1765 construction of the Cape Henlopen Lighthouse, the charming coastline, information learned from the study of objects recovered from the HM Brig DeBraak, which sank off the coast of Lewes in 1798, the bombardment of Lewes during the War of 1812, and changing thematic displays are among the topics emphasized.

HM Brig DeBraak: The Real Discovery(adults & students grades 4-12 recommended; 30-60 minutes): Learning activities connecting the ship’s history and its recovered artifacts to Delaware history.

Great Guns At Night: April 6-7, 1813 Bombardment of Lewes (adults & students grades K-4 recommended; 30 minutes): Program that chronicles events leading to the bombardment of Lewes during the War of 1812 and Delaware’s involvement.

Three Centuries By The Sea: Maritime Connections To Lewes(adults & students; 15 minutes): Showcases historical information about the settlement of Lewes in 1631.

Reflections Of Cape Henlopen: The Sea Conquers The Light (adults & studens; 15 minutes): Synthesizes data about the Cape Henlopen Lighthouse and Delaware’s changing coastline.

Celebrating A Dutch Christmas (recommended for students K-4; 45 minutes): Highlights Dutch traditions for the holidays.

Sir William’s Hunt For Holly -(students grades K-3 recommended; 30 minutes): A role-play activity emphasizing the significance of Delaware’s holly industry and information about the environment.

School group tours complement Delaware’s Social Studies Content Standards. For more information on these and other educational tours available, contact the Curator of Education or the Site Supervisor or call (302) 645-1148.

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Homework Help

Please note: These pages require Microsoft Word or Adobe Reader to view. You may download MS Word Readeror Adobe Reader for free.

Learn more about the Delaware Bay, Cape Henlopen, the Cape Henlopen Lighthouse, Mermen, and the Bombardment of Lewes:

The War of 1812 :

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The history of Zwaanendael Museum:

A timeline history of Delaware’s first settlement and other significant dates:

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A Historical Timeline of the H.M.B. DeBraak:

MS Word Format  Adobe .PDF Format

 

Click here for Frequently Asked Questions

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Exhibits/Events

Administered by Delaware State Museums, Zwaanendael Museum is a careful adaptation of the town hall in Hoorn, Holland. Exhibits inside illustrate the rich history of Sussex County and highlight its maritime connections. Included are permanent and changing exhibits that tell stories about people who lived and worked along Delaware’s southeastern coast.

Included are: Swaanendael settlement, the Cape Henlopen Lighthouse, The Bombardment of Lewes by the British in the War of 1812, Pilots of the Bay and River Delaware and the ever-changing Delaware coastline.

Please contact Zwaanendael Museum for more information at (302) 645-1148

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The History Store

The History Storeat the Zwaanendael Museum is full of maritime treasures such as whale paperweights and jewelry; publications about ships and sailors and the HMB DeBraak; Dutch flags and Dutch shoes; and a host of Delaware and Sussex County souvenirs.

Did you know that Zwaanendael means “Valley of the Swans”?

The Delaware State Museums History Store’s mission is the enhancement of the educational mission of Delaware State Museums by providing items to the visiting public that relate to Delaware History and the collections, exhibits and programs of Delaware State Museums. The proceeds from the sales are dedicated to the funding of exhibits, programs and publications by Delaware State Museums.

For more information, contact the History Store at Zwaanendael Museum at (302) 645-1148 or you may email the Museum Business Services Assistant.

Purchases made in any Delaware State Museum History Store help fund our educational programs and exhibits. We accept Mastercard, Visa, Discover, and personal checks for your convenience.

Thank you for your patronage!

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DIRECTIONS: Zwaanendael Museum is located at the intersection of Kings Highway and Savannah Road in Lewes. Visitors may reach the museum by following signs to Lewes from Route 1 via Route 9.

HOURS (Subject to Change) Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Sundays 1:30-4:30 p.m. Closed Mondays and state holidays.

FEE Admission is free. Donations are accepted.

SERVICES Museum gift shop. First floor is handicapped accessible.

TOURS Group tours require reservations. Special tours are also available.

For more information call 302-645-1148.

 

Locate museums in your Area

Locate local museums in a lot less time at DEStateMuseums.org. Our comprehensive directories and listings allow you to quickly and easily find museums that educate and entertain people around the country. Within minutes you can find children’s museums, space museums, sciences museums, aviation museums and art museums no matter where you live or visit. Start searching for museums in your city today.

STATE HOUSE MUSEUM

CLOSED FOR RENOVATION UNTIL DECEMBER 2006

 

The Delaware State House was the first permanent capitol building in Dover, Delaware. Begun in 1787 and completed by May 1792, this Georgian-style structure was home to all levels of government in the First State. Sitting on the historic Green in Dover, the State House has been witness to many important events that have occurred in Delaware history. The State House has been a center of attention for two centuries and continues to hold a special place in the eyes of Delawareans and visitors alike.

 

A visitor today can observe the work completed by the major restoration project in the 1970’s to bring the stately building back to its original appearance. An interior detail of special interest is the breathtaking gilt sunflower ceiling medallion. Viewing the grand staircase of the State House has been pleasing for visitors in the State House whether in 1800 or 2001. This entrance to the Legislative chambers of State Government is very impressive. John Howe’s “geometrical” stair of 1791 was reproduced by the 1970’s restoration architects based on information derived from original documents and physical evidence found in the building.

 

The landing on the second floor of the State House provides a step back into history. The House of Representatives is on the right and is furnished as it was two hundred years ago. Twenty-one men, seven from each county, were elected to fill these chairs. Two portraits painted by Thomas Sully enhance the walls of the House Chamber to honor Jacob Jones and Thomas McDonough, heroes from the First State in the War of 1812. On the left is the Senate Chamber. Nine men would occupy these chairs. The minimum age for a senator was 27 and each member was required to be a freeholder and a resident of the state for three years. Of course, the requirement for all office holders in the colonial era was that of male and a white citizen. Many of the issues of the day are discussed at this location in relation as to who was allowed a voice in governement of the past and how far we have progressed today under the United States Consitution, first ratified by Delaware.

 

An historic interpreter will take the visitor inside the building for a personal tour. Learn about the judicial branch of government as you enter the re-created courtroom of the eighteenth century. Participants are encouraged to take a seat in this area as a judge, juryman or even the prisoner to help make the experience come alive. The guide will tell documented stories of famous trials and issues of everyday people who were affected by Delaware government or society in general.

 

Listen to the facts of the Underground Railroad and the work done by Samuel D. Burris, or the actions that took place in the Recorder of Deeds Office on the first floor. Learn how segments of local society worked hard to free slaves in Delaware and hold copies of primary source documents that were the actual freedom papers of many other citizens of the Fist State.

 

Although the General Assembly moved to nearby Legislative Hall in 1933, the State House remains Delaware’s symbolic capitol. The State House building is unique in design and history. Please come prepared with questions and enthusiasm for a place rich in Delaware history!

 

JOHN DICKINSON PLANTATION

It was January 18, 1740 when Samuel Dickinson, a wealthy Quaker tobacco planter and merchant of Talbot County Maryland moved his family to the Plantation on Jones Neck.

John Dickinson was eight years old. John’s father had come to Kent County, Delaware to accept a judgeship and to allow his wife, Mary Cadwalader Dickinson to be closer to her native Philadelphia.

At the new plantation, which they called Poplar Hall, John was schooled by his parents and later with his younger brother, Philemon and Samuel Chew, son of Dr. Chew, Chief Justice at New Castle, by a series of tutors. In 1750 and at age 18, John began reading law in Philadelphia and later to England at Middle Temple, Inns of Court and Westminster. Returning home in 1757, he began law practice in Philadelphia. Active in the Pennsylvania Assembly, he attended the Stamp Act Congress where his suggested resolutions were adopted with few changes. His Letters of a Farmer in Pennsylvania written in 1767, brought him fame. As a result, Dickinson was called on for advice and inspiration in the years before the First Continental Congress.

After John’s death in 1808, the plantation passed to his daughter and remained in the family until the 20th Century, when it passed through a series of owners. In 1952, the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Delaware purchased the mansion with 12 acres for $25,000. They presented the site to the State in Constitution Day ceremonies that year. The Mansion opened as a museum in May 1956, after 3 1/2 years of restoration.

 

DELAWARE ARCHAEOLOGY MUSEUM

Discover Delaware archaeology through a variety of fascinating exhibits and programs!

 

Archaeology, the study of previous peoples, civilizations, and their lifeways through scientific analysis of remaining artifacts, is the primary focus of this museum.

 

Our exhibit encompasses 12,000 years worth of archaeological history in the State of Delaware. The artifacts date from the last ice age in North America to the 20th century. The exhibited artifacts range from projectile points commonly known as “arrowheads” or “spear points,” ceramics and other stone and bone tools to glass and personal objects used in Delaware during the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.

 

The Delaware Archaeology Museum examines the process of archaeology. This involves a great deal more than digging. Archaeology involves careful planning and the development of questions about the human past. Archaeologists then set about answering these questions by examining places containing the remains of our past, also known as “sites.” In addition to layers of earth that form the sites where archaeologists dig, sites also contain artifacts. Artifacts are tangible material remains that people have left behind such as pottery sherds, stone flakes, broken window glass, and discarded oyster shell. To understand the process of archaeological excavation, the museum includes an in-house simulated excavation pit with a hands-on educational program available by appointment to interested groups.

 

Because archaeology requires the integration of many disciplines, our exhibits also present the multi-faceted approach to the study of the human past that archaeology entails. This includes the findings of anthropologists, osteologists (bone analysts), geologists, physical anthropologists, botanists, and many other scientific disciplines used in the identification and analysis of the archaeological record.

 

In addition to archaeological methods, an overview of Delaware’s Native American history forms a central part of the museum’s exhibits. Lifeways, society and environment used by early native peoples are experienced through extensive artifact displays. The exhibits include early stone (or lithic) tools used for fishing, hunting, woodworking and home building as well as pottery, smoking pipes and other implements used during their generally healthy and productive lives.

 

Lithic tools were essential parts of the everyday lives of Delaware’s Native Americans. Their use helped their creators survivie in their environments. To provide a sense of the importance of these tools and their uses, special programs are available focusing on early hunting tools and techniques. These programs include the demonstration of the famed atlatl, an early spear throwing device that enabled hunters to access smaller and faster wild game. The manufacturing of stone tools is also closely reviewed. The hand production of stone tools or flintknapping in an authentic fashion is fascinating and enjoyed by all ages. With the utilization of stone hammers, deer antler hammers, and pressure flaking devices, a large stone core is strategically chipped away flake by flake until the desired tool is achieved in the form of an arrowhead, scraper, or knife.

 

Lifeways of later peoples immigrating to Delaware are also examined through historical archaeology. Historical archaeologists use information from excavations and from historical documents to understand the past. Sites discussed include those occupied by Europeans and African-Americans and include colonial, military, maritime, and industrial sites. Although historical archaeologists use information from written documents, archaeology is sometimes the only way to learn about the lives of many people.

 

The Delaware Archaeology Museum allows visitors to view step by step the subtle and sometimes enormous changes that have taken place in Delaware’s peoples over the millennia. Come explore this rich history!

 

During May of every year, the State of Delaware celebrates “Archaeology Month”. Hosted by the Delaware Archaeology Forum, professional archaeologists and state agencies, this month long, statewide celebration gives the public an opportunity to learn about current archaeological information. The Delaware Archaeology Museum hosts events during the first weekend of May in conjunction with the “Old Dover Days” celebration. For additional information on The Delaware Archaeology Museum, you may email or call (302) 739-3260. For more information on Archaeology Month events, contact the Delaware Archaeology Museum at (302) 739-3260 or you may check out the web site.

 

Division of Historical & Cultural Affairs : Delaware State Museums

HMS DEBRAAK

The Wooden World Revealed: The Archaeology of His Majesty’s Brig DeBraak

During the late 18th century, Great Britain, France, and Spain became locked in a military struggle on a global scale called the Napoleonic Wars. The armies and navies of these warring powers became engaged on nearly every continent and in every sea and ocean around the world. Critical to these countries, military success was the maintenance of their own, or destruction of their adversaries’ overseas markets. The young United States provided an important outlet for British and European manufactured goods. As the 1790s progressed, the British government sought to protect its American markets by having merchant convoys to North America escorted by ships of the Royal Navy.

The DeBraak was a small but powerful vessel called a brig or brig-sloop. It was fitted with two masts, and was armed with sixteen cannons. The ship’s company consisted of eighty five officers, marines, boys, and sailors. The vessel began its Royal Navy service in June 1797.

After a period of time on duty in the English Channel, the DeBraak was ordered to fit out for convoy duty. During the Atlantic crossing, the DeBraak became separated from its convoy. While attempting to reunite with the merchant ships, DeBraak was struck by a violent squall, capsized, and sank off the Delaware coast on May 25, 1798. The brig settled in about eighty feet of water and over nearly two centuries, gradually became part of the archaeological record and maritime lore of Delaware’s Atlantic coast.

Life Aboard a Warship at Sea.

Navigational instruments, a sailmaker’s palm and the surgeon’s bone saw and tooth key reveal the many skills, training, and expertise required to keep a small vessel functioning at sea. Ceramic plates, drinking glasses, uniform coat buttons, furniture fragments, bone dice, a cube from the game called Crown and Anchor, and the captain’s mourning ring are just a few of the many personal items that provide important clues to understanding the human and social dimensions of the life aboard a warship at sea. Many of these artifacts helped to maintain occupational and social distinctions among the officers and crew. Interestingly, a large number of the ceramic plates were used by the common sailors and indicated an improved level of material culture than what sailors had previously used.

Delaware State Museums has sponsored more than fourteen years of research and work by archeologists, historians, material culture specialists, and conservators into the remains of the DeBraak. This work continues to uncover new information about life at sea in the age of sail. Much remains yet to be discovered.

For more information on the DeBraak and to experience the vast collection of artifacts salvaged from the DeBraak, visit Zwaanendael Museum in Lewes. You may also email the Curator of Archaeology.

For exhibit information you may call Zwaanendael Museum at (302) 645-1148 or for collections/research information you may contact the Curator of Archaeology at (302) 739-6402

The DeBraak Collection

The DeBraak and its associated collection of 20,000 artifacts presents an unparalleled look into naval life in the heyday of the Royal Navy and provides important clues to a better understanding of the human experience at sea. This rich and diverse collection includes the surviving hull remnant and represents every facet of shipboard life from the ships’s armament and operation to food and provisions, to clothing and personal objects. Many of the artifacts are rare and others are the only known examples.

The hull, of which approximately thirty percent survives, is the only known example of the architecture of a class of vessel called a brig-sloop. These small, but powerful vessels saw expanded and important service throughout the Napoleonic Wars. Many of the artifacts, such as the footwear and small arms collection, are the largest ones known from a naval context.

Others are remarkably rare, such as a group of eight canister, giant shotgun-like projectiles capable of inflicting many casualties in an enemy ship’s crew, which are still packed in their original box. Many artifacts form the DeBraak are examples of important technological innovations that revolutionized the production of ship’s fittings, changed tactics, and helped expand British seapower. They include cooper alloy bolts that held the ship together, cooper plates that protected its hull, rigging components made by Walter Taylor of Southampton, England, a new powerful type of cannon called a carronade, and flintlock gunlocks mechanisms used to fire these cannons. The use of carronades tripled the DeBraak’s firepower while reducing the weight carried by the vessel by two tons. Analysis of the many blocks and sheaves used in the warship’s rigging revealed the problem of overmasting that sank the DeBraak so suddenly that afternoon in May of 1798.

 

Delaware State Museums Invites You To Experience The Belmont Hall Restoration Project

During June of 1988, a tornado touched down briefly on the front lawn of Belmont Hall in Smyrna, Delaware. The historic house and grounds had recently come under the care of Delaware State Museums, soon to be renovated for use as a conference center. Until that June, the house had been totally hidden from view of passersby on Rt. 13. The resulting storm damage to the trees on the front lawn was extensive. Approximately 105 mature specimen trees were lost that June. Ever since that time, we have been working to repair the damage to the landscape by reforesting the area.

A landscape master plan was developed for the site in 1993 and an area was set aside on the property in which to grow new trees. The trees from this nursery area would then be used to reforest the site. Bareroot trees (182 seedlings) of many native varieties were planted in April of 1993, as an Arbor day activity. Cub Scout pact #296 and volunteers from Delaware State Museums helped with this initial tree planting effort. The trees grew and grew!

 

Meanwhile, in May of 1997, Boy Scout Troop #296 from Smyrna assisted by Museums’ staff, planted 22 evergreens on the front lawn. These were balled and burlaped trees of a larger size than the bareroot plants initially installed in the tree nursery. They made an instant impact on the front lawn.

 

By the spring of 2001, some of the trees in the nursery were big enough to be moved out onto the front lawn. A local contractor moved 9 of the largest trees to new locations on the front lawn with a 50″ tree spade.

Once again, in the spring of 2002, we moved another 9 large trees onto the front lawn from our nursery area. The remaining trees are now spaced far enough apart that they can continue to grow in their present locations and provide a buffer planting for us on the north side of the property. We have three trees that remain in the nursery to be transplanted. They will have to wait until the fall and will require a 90″ tree spade for their trip to their new home.

 

At the present time, we have planted 48 trees on the front lawn of Belmont Hall and many other trees elsewhere on the site. We have replaced the original 105 trees lost in the 1988 tornado and are on our way to reforesting an important Smyrna landmark!