Nature August 04, 2018
Most People Don’t Know There’s A National Park Right In Delaware
Delaware’s history is one that is tied together closely with the history of our nation, and it goes far beyond the fact that we were the first state to ratify the Constitution. A few years ago, thanks to the actions of President Barack Obama and the United States Congress, a National Park was created in Delaware to commemorate the contributions of Delawareans during colonization and the revolution.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
First State National Historical Park is part of the National Park Service. It was initially dedicated as a Monument by President Obama in 2015, and it was later designated as a National Historical Park.
The park consists of several locations throughout the state of Delaware (and a few hundred acres across the state line, in Chadds Ford). It seeks to recognize the role Delaware played in the founding of our nation, leading up to Delaware's ratification of the Constutition, making it the First State.
In New Castle, there are three park sites. The NCC Courthouse was one of the first of the country, and this historic building offers tours and programs year round.
The Court House is historically significant, as it was the center of the 12 Mile Circle that forms the border between Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware, and it was the starting point of the Mason-Dixon survey. Over the years, the Court House was used as a meeting place for the colonial assembly of Delaware, and it was where the original vote to declare independence from both Pennsylvania and England was cast in 1776.
Near the Court House, the New Castle Green encompasses several historic places.
This town square was designated in 1650 by the original Dutch colonists. It's only a block away from the true Penn's Landing, where William Penn first set food on American soil. Along with the Court House, the Federal Aresenal from 1809 and the Immanuel Episcopal Church on the Green, founded in 1703 surround this park space.
The Sheriff's House is one site on the New Castle Green, as well.
This historic home was built in 1857, and is owned by the National Park Service. It serves as the First State National Historic Park's headquarters and visitor's center.
Downstate a bit, you'll find the Dover Green, another site in First State National Historical Park.
The Green was first laid out as a public square by William Penn in 1717, and has been at the center of Delaware history ever since. The Continental Army regiment from Delaware met here, and the Declaration of Independence was first read to the citizens of Delaware here. Dover became the state capital in 1777, and the state house dates back to 1787.
Dover celebrates its First State heritage in a Delaware State Park that hosts events on the Green throughout the year.
The 18th Century Market Fair is one of the best ways to experience colonial Delaware, and it's hosted by First State Heritage Park.
In the Brandywine Valley, a large plot of Quaker-owned land known as Beaver Valley has become a part of the National Historical Park.
It was originally preserved in the early 1900s by William Poole Bancroft, a well known Quaker. He wanted to ensure that the rural beauty of the valley was preserved for future generations growing up in Wilmington and Philadelphia. Forests, farmsteads and meadows adjacent to the Brandywine Creek are still largely untouched today.
There are over 1,100 acres of preserved land here, and 220 of those acres actually extend into Pennsylvania near Chadds Ford.
The area is open to the public for exploration. You'll often find visitors hiking, biking and kayaking around here and the occasional horseback rider makes this truly a unique spot to spend a few hours.
Back up in Wilmington, Fort Christina marks the first Swedish settlement in North America. It was built in 1638 at the site where the Brandywine and Christina Rivers meet.
Fort Christina is now a park that was designated in 1938 during the 300th anniversary of Swedish colonization. At the site, there are replica cabins and a monument honoring the Kalmar Nyckle ship that landed here at the Rocks.
Holy Trinity Church, also known as Old Swedes, is a one of the most historic churches in America. It was founded in 1699 and is one of the few buildings that remain from the days of the Swedish colonists.
The stunning landmark Church is still an active congregation today. It is beautiful and open to tours, and the stunning view from the altar is breathtaking.
One of the most famous locations in Delaware is the John Dickinson Plantation. The Plantation is open as a standalone museum, and the John Dickinson House is a part of First State National Historical Park.
Dickinson was a lawyer and politician who spent most of the time in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington, Delaware. He was a Continental Congressman and a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. He was President of Delaware, President of Pennsylvania, and one of the wealthiest and influential men in the American colonies
Ryves Holt House is the oldest surviving house in Delaware, and it has a place in First State National Historical Park.
The building dates back to 1665 and it was one of the earliest Inns in the area. Ryves Holt purchased the Inn as a house, and the first Chief Justice of Sussex County lived here for a while. The home is owned by the Lewes Historical Society and it was added to First State National Historical Park in 2014.
Visiting the only National Park in Delaware is quite the experience and a journey to all of the sites will take you on a tour of the First State! Learn more about planning your visit
If you really want to step back in time to Colonial Delaware, the best place to visit is Jessop’s Tavern! This family favorite themed restaurant serves up the same food that the founding fathers enjoyed.
Read more about it here!