Image of the State House exterior at night, with lights
CLOSED FOR RENOVATIONS UNTIL FALL 2007
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 originally home to both state and Kent County governments. Located on the historic Green in Dover, the State House has served as a focal point in the state’s civic life for over two centuries and continues to hold a special place in the eyes of Delawareans and visitors alike.
Over the course of 140 years of continuous governmental use, the State House had undergone a number of structural and stylistic changes that had radically altered its original 18th century appearance. These changes included the addition, over time, of a number of wings to accommodate increasing governmental needs, and the Victorian-style remodeling of the building’s exterior in 1873. In 1933, the General Assembly re-located from the State House to its new, more spacious, home in Legislative Hall, and in 1976, the State House was restored to its original 18th century appearance as part of Delaware’s bicentennial celebration commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
The first floor of the State House features an 18th century-style courtroom while the second floor features the former chambers of the state legislature. The House chamber contains notable portraits by Thomas Sully of Commodores Jacob Jones and Thomas Macdonough, heroes from the First State who served in the War of 1812. The Senate chamber houses an imposing portrait of George Washington painted by Denis A. Volozan.
Notable architectural details include the gilt sunflower ceiling sham, and the grand, dual stairways, known as a geometrical staircase, that served as the portal of entry to the state’s legislative chambers. This geometrical staircase, designed by John Howe in 1791, was reproduced by restoration architects based on information derived from original documents and physical evidence found in the building.
Although Delaware’s General Assembly now meets in Legislative Hall, the State House remains the state’s symbolic capitol-unique in design and rich in history!
Would you like to know what the State House looks like inside?