First State National Historical Park: New Castle Court House

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First State National Historical Park➤

First State National Historic Park encompasses places and events related to the founding of the nation. Swedish, Dutch, and Finnish immigrants settled in Delaware, which was considered part of Pennsylvania in colonial times. The settlers established their own legislative body in New Castle in 1704 and separated from Pennsylvania in 1776.

On December 7, 1787 state delegates met in Dover to ratify the US Constitution. This made Delaware the first state to ratify, hence the name of the park.

First State National Historical Park consists of six individual sites that are spread throughout the state of Delaware. The six sites are: Brandywine Valley, Fort Christina, Old Swedes Historic Site, New Castle Court House Museum, the Dover Green and the John Dickinson Plantation.

New Castle Court House Museum➤

Colonists built the New Castle courthouse in 1732. It is one of the oldest active courthouses in the United States. It served as Delaware’s first state capitol. The colonial assembly met here in 1776 and passed the Separation Resolution which created the separate state of Delaware.

I met up with some National Park Travelers Club members for the 10am tour. Two of our members hit their platinum park with this visit, having visited all 424 NPS units.

Our tour guide brought us in to the courtroom and explained the colonial system of justice. It was a harsh system, meting out punishments such as the stockade or hanging.

New Castle is one of the oldest courthouses in the United States and is still considered in active use. Our guide had her wedding ceremony there.

The surrounding neighborhood boasts a rich history. George Reed, who signed the Declaration of Independence, is buried in the church cemetery behind the courthouse. The National Park Service is currently restoring the sheriff’s house next door to the courthouse

First State Posts➤

  • New Castle Courthouse
  • Brandywine Valley
  • Brandywine Creek State Park

Location: 211 Delaware St, New Castle, DE
Designation: National Historical Park
Date designated/established: March 25, 2013
Date of my visit: April 6, 2023