History Heaven

Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley share a remarkable history. Shaped by both Swedish and English influence, the area was also a major stop on the Underground Railroad and a place where American ingenuity flourished.  

No survey of northern Delaware history is complete without a visit to Historic New Castle, whose colonial architecture is remarkably well-preserved. In fact, New Castle is second only to Williamsburg, Virginia in the number and authenticity of its historic structures. The Amstel House Museum, Dutch House, Read House & Gardens, and New Castle Court House Museum are among the most notable stops.  

The Court House is also a significant site for Underground Railroad history, as it was here that local abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor Thomas Garrett was tried for the aid he’d rendered to enslaved persons trying to reach the north.  

At Wilmington’s Riverfront, the Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park commemorates both Garrett and legendary abolitionist Harriett Tubman. Look for the striking statue depicting them. Downtown, trace the history of slavery and the Underground Railroad at the Delaware History Museum and its affiliated Jane and Littleton Mitchell Center for African American Heritage.   

Also in Wilmington, trace the footsteps of Delaware’s earliest European settlers at the Old Swedes Historic Site or with a trip aboard the Kalmar Nyckel, a replica of the ship that brought those first settlers to the Wilmington area. 

In Historic Odessa, the Corbit-Sharp House was the home of a noted Underground Railroad sympathizer and provided refuge to at least one escaping enslaved person. Odessa’s other historic properties provide some of the finest examples of 18th- and 19th-century architecture in the region. 

Finally, trace the origins of American entrepreneurship with a visit to Hagley Museum and Library, where the original du Pont gunpowder factory has been preserved and thousands of patent models are permanently on display. The Marshall Steam Museum at Auburn Heights boasts the world’s largest collection of operating steam cars, along with antique autos and 1/8 size locomotive reproductions. Greenbank Mills & Philips Farm is a living history museum with tours and programs that introduce you to staple industries of the early republic, including farming, milling and textile production.   

Historic New Castle

This charming Colonial town is steeped in history. Enjoy fine restaurants, fabulous museums and quaint shops. Stroll along the Delaware River.

Amstel House Museum

Among New Castle's few surviving early colonial buildings is this elegant brick, early Georgian mansion. Built in 1738, the house is graced with original woodwork, fine architectural details & open…

Dutch House

Step back in time to the seafaring days of the late 17th century when New Castle was a young colonial town. Feel the warmth of the patina of timeless Dutch Colonial and European antiques. Discover the…

Read House & Gardens

Overlooking the Delaware River in Historic New Castle, the 14,000-square-foot George Read II House & Gardens is preserved as a National Historic Landmark and a beacon of design inspiration. It was…

New Castle Court House Museum

The New Castle Court House, located in the heart of the historic City of New Castle, Delaware, is one of the oldest surviving courthouses in the United States and a registered National Historic…

Kalmar Nyckel

  • 1124 E. Seventh St.

Discover the remarkable story behind the Kalmar Nyckel, the Tall Ship of Delaware. Come aboard for a…

Old Swedes Historic Site

It's where New Sweden began - a National Landmark and now part of First State National Historical Park in Delaware. Visitors from around the world seek out Old Swedes Church to experience and explore…

Historic Odessa

Visit the village of Odessa, Delaware and admire examples of 18th- and 19th-century architecture, and tour the Historic Odessa Foundation's five historic houses.

Hagley Museum and Library

Hagley is a large, indoor-outdoor museum experience with hundreds of years of history. Explore the new Nation of Inventors exhibition celebrating diverse stories of American innovation. Join…

Greenbank Mills & Philips Farm

Experience early 19th-century Delaware in a 300-year-old gristmill, textile mill and farm site with an eighteen foot waterwheel powered by nearby Red Clay Creek. Greenbank Mills & Philips Farm is a…