The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will host thirteen free, public events during October at the five museums of the state of Delaware. The five museums, which tell the story of the First State’s contributions to the history and culture of the United States, include The Old State House, John Dickinson Plantation, the New Castle Court House Museum, Johnson Victrola Museum and Zwaanendael Museum.
On Saturday, October 3, The Old State House will offer a guided tour, “Dates of Distinction: Birth and Re-Birth of a State House,” which will focus on Charles Ridgley and the commission to build The Old State House. Tours will run from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Also on October 3:
The Johnson Victrola Museum will invite visitors to enjoy authentic 78 rpm recordings that may have been listened to by Dover’s Ridgley family in a program called “Signature Sounds: Entertaining the Ridgleys.” Authentic Victor Talking Machines (a flagship record company headquartered in Camden, N.J.) will be used. “Sounds” will occur from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
“River Towns Ride and Festival” will occur simultaneously from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. between New Castle and Delaware City. The festival in New Castle will be held at the New Castle Court House Museum and feature a bicycling event, food vendors, music, and pumpkin carving for children.
The Zwaanendael Museum will feature a tour, “From Whales to War: A History of Lewes in the 17th Century,” from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The tour will include information on the history of the Lewes area in the 1600s from the Swanendael Settlement to the English conquest. Because of limited space, reservations are required.
On Saturday, October 10, the Thistledown Fiber Arts Guild will demonstrate weaving, spinning and weaving at the John Dickinson Plantation from 1 to 3 p.m.
On Thursday, October 14, a living-history performance titled “Stories of The Old State House–‘The Doctor is In: A Day with Dr. Sykes”’ will take place at The Old State House. This performance will focus on Dr. James Sykes, a Dover physician and statesman in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He also served briefly as Governor of Delaware. The performance will begin at 1 p.m., and reservations are required.
Also on October 14, the New Castle Court House Museum will feature a screening and presentation called “Hollywood History at the Court House: Legend of Sleepy Hollow” at 7:00 p.m. The presentation will focus on Felix Octavius Carr Darley, the illustrator from Claymont, Del., who illustrated the Washington Irving book that became the basis for the film.
On Wednesday, October 21, the Old State House will feature another living-history performance, “Stories of The Old State House–Women’s Words: The Civil War Told Through Delaware’s Female Diarists,” at 1 p.m. This will include scenes depicting the writings of Elizabeth Dorsey and Anna Ferris, two Delawareans with opposite sympathies during the Civil War.
On Friday, October 23, the John Dickinson Plantation will offer a tour called “Lantern Tours of the Plantation,” which will delve into the nocturnal life of the estuary. Tours are from 6 to 7 p.m. and from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Reservations are required.
On Saturday, October 24, the New Castle Court House Museum will celebrate William Penn Day from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m to commemorate the 333rd anniversary of Penn’s disembarkment from New Castle. Re-enactments, historical plays, and demonstrations will be part of the celebration.
On Monday, October 26, the New Castle Court House Museum will sponsor a web-based story telling program about the Underground Railroad and the history of slavery in Salem County, New Jersey. The lecture is called “7 Steps to Freedom” and will be led by James F. Turk, Ph.D.
On Wednesday, October 28, the Old State House will offer another living-history performance about Delawareans who fought for freedom and equality called “Stories of The Old State House–Courage and Freedom” at 1 p.m. Again, reservations are required.
Finally, on Saturday, October 31, to celebrate Halloween, the Zwaandael Museum will offer a walking tour focusing on the unusual tombstones in St. Peter’s Cemetery called “Mysteries of History.” The tour will leave from the museum at 2 p.m.