Delaware December 29, 2018
The Oldest Church In Delaware Dates Back To The 1600s And You Need To See It
Did you know that Delaware is home to one of the most important churches in the world? It was one of the very first churches to be built in Delaware, and today, it’s one of the oldest still standing in the country. It’s located near The Rocks, where the Kalmar Nyckel landed in 1638! It’s part of First State National Historic Park and is so worth a visit.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
Old Swedes Church, in Wilmington, is the oldest church in America still used for worship as it was originally built.
Old Swedes was built in 1698-1699, by Swedish settlers who once called this the colony of New Sweden. Local blue granite and Swedish bricks were used to construct it, tying together the old and the new. It was built on the burial ground of Fort Christina, the first settlement in Delaware. The burial ground dates back to 1638 and is the final resting place of more than 15,000 people.
This drawing of the church in 1845 shows how little the building has changed over hundreds of years.
While Old Swedes Church has been very well maintained, it has undergone no major changes to its layout or construction. This truly is a historic building, and it is an amazing example of preservation. When the pews were rebuilt in 1899, the craftsmen used patterns and descriptions from early church records to be sure they were exact replicas of the originals.
This interior photo dates back to 1934. You can still see the gorgeous stained glass window behind the altar today.
Even today, you'll see the evidence of this sacred building's storied past. The black walnut pulpit is the oldest known pulpit in the country, and it was built with wood donated from the earliest parishioners. The altar candles were donated by the King of Sweden, and the Warden's Chest was built in 1713. Even the stained glass window is historic, having been crafted by Tiffany & Co.
Visiting Old Swedes' Church is truly taking a step back in time. This incredible site is nearly 80 years older than American itself, which is more than impressive.
Old Swedes was designated as a Registered National Historic Landmark on March 29, 1963, more than 300 years after the Swedes landed in this country and established their new home.
Next to the burial ground, you'll find the Hendrickson House.
This home was originally built in Chester County, Pennsylvania, but it was moved to the site of Old Swedes Church to show visitors what life in a Swedish colonial home was like. Today, it can be toured along with the Church grounds and graveyard.
Old Swedes Church is open for tours year-round, so plan a trip to visit this storied sacred site.
The Church is located at:
606 N. Church St., Wilmington, DE 19801 In January and February, the church is open for tours by appointment, so call 302-652-5629 to schedule yours. In March, you can visit Wednesday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and during the rest of the year, they keep regular hours. From April through December, you'll be able to visit Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m to 4 pm., with the last tour beginning at 3:15 p.m.
While Old Swedes is the oldest Church in Delaware, it’s not the only one worth visiting! If you’ve never seen
The Little-Known Church Hiding In Delaware That Is An Absolute Work Of Art, you’ve got to get to the New Castle Green as soon as you can.