First State National Historical Park
Embracing a variety of historic locations in the northern and central regions of Delaware, the First State National Historical Park touches on tales that are central to America’s story – including the debates over Colonial allegiances and slavery, and the crucial role that this new land’s rivers and natural resources played in our economic growth.
In the northern part of the state, two sites - Woodlawn, and the New Castle Court House Museum – are both National Monument attractions. Visitors can stroll the trails of Woodlawn’s still-forested countryside along the historic Brandywine River, home to the Native American Lenape tribe that were its first residents and to the Wyeth family of artists who still paint its beautiful landscapes. At the 1732 Court House -- one of the oldest surviving examples in the nation – abolitionists faced trial for their beliefs, and Colonial-era delegates broke ties with Pennsylvania and Great Britain, creating the state of Delaware. In Old New Castle, the historic sites of The Green and The Old Sheriff's House are also part of the park. While visiting this quaint riverside town, be sure to also check out the many historic homes and stroll its cobblestone streets, lined with restaurants and shops. In spring, Separation Day celebrates New Castle’s colonial heritage with food, music and fun.
Elsewhere in New Castle County, the park also includes Fort Christina National Historic Landmark (where Swedish and Finnish settlers established the first American Swedish colony, New Sweden); and Old Swedes Church National Historic Landmark (the oldest church in America still used for worship).
In Central Delaware, the National Monument focuses on The Green, a Colonial-era public square in the capital city of Dover, surrounded by old homes, museums and historic attractions. It was here that Delaware voted to ratify the U.S. Constitution and where special events are still held throughout the year, including Old Dover Days, Spring and Summer Performing Arts Series, 4th of July festivities, and Caroling on The Green. Benches and beautiful old trees shade this historic site, and it is within walking distance of stores, restaurants and other historic sites in the capital city. The park also includes the nearby John Dickinson Plantation National Historic Landmark, home to the "penman of the Revolution." Dickinson's writings helped inspire colonial opposition to Great Britain.
In Southern Delaware, the Historical Park includes the Ryves Holt House in Lewes, a 1665 home that is estimated to be the oldest house in Delaware and one of the 50 oldest structures in the country.