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New Castle, DE – It’s no secret that there’s something very special about colonial America. And the small town of New Castle, Delaware, is a shining example of the awesome history and countless influences that once had a home here. On this occasion we chose to explore this Colossus of small towns, partly because of its gorgeous architecture that captivates locals and visitors alike, and partly because of everything else this cozy place takes great pride in. Here’s all you need to know about this Delaware haven.
New Castle can be found at the heart of the Brandywine Valley, a place we’ve covered in a previous article. Truth be told, it was back then that we first heard of New Castle, and have wanted to explore it ever since. That being said, the first thing we noticed about the quaint small town is – it’s 100% real. That means that, while your first impression of it might be that it’s some sort of a Disney-World-meets-colonial-history theme park, it’s far from it. New Castle is a bonafide, historical small town with tons of Federal, Dutch and colonial architecture lived in by 21st century people.
New Castle, DE – A Pioneer In More Ways Than One
In essence, the town is more of a national park than anything else, really, and we say this with good reason. Namely, in 2013, the heart of New Castle was declared part of First State National Historical Park for its contribution to the forming of the nation. Of course, the fact that it has incredibly varied and colorful English, Swedish and Dutch colonial history probably had a lot to do with it, as well. Therefore, if you’re looking for something in town that’s going to get your adrenaline going, you probably won’t find it. On the other hand, a laidback attitude during a simple, relaxing stroll across a colonial town is just what the doctor ordered for New Castle visitors.
Delaware Street is the name of the road that leads into Old New Castle. Bricked sidewalks with rows of trees on each side of the street are beautiful to stroll on. Though, tree roots do tear apart the sidewalks in some places; so, make sure to watch your step. While taking in the sights during your relaxing walk, you’ll notice 1700s-style townhouses lining the street, complete with a tavern or two, shops, bed and breakfasts and contemporary homes.
Some Suggestions If You’re Pressed With Time During Your Visit
The Old Court House Museum is located on the Green, which Delaware Street opens into. It was constructed in 1732 and was the meeting place for the state’s colonial assembly when New Castle was the capital of Delaware, which is to say, from 1732 to 1777. Peter Stuyvesant, the Dutch Governor, laid out the Green and the town itself in 1651. The Green, at the time, was the place where literally everything was happening. From the grand fairs to the weekly markets, this was the place to be.
The Dutch House, for example, is located on 3rd Street, which is on the other side of the Green. Furnished in the style of the early Dutch settlers to New Castle, it is a late 17th century home worth checking out. Similarly, a colonial brick mansion by the name of Amstel House is on 4th Street. Unlike the Dutch House, the Amstel House’s furnishings mirror 18th and 19th century life in the town, while the mansion itself is built in the early American Georgian style of architecture by Dr. John Finney.
Don’t Blame Us If You End Up Moving To New Castle
Furthermore, 3rd Street is also home to the Old Library, which is also another staple of New Castle tourism. Featuring a constant exhibit on the history of the town, the Library is also architecturally exquisite, and built in the shape of a hexagon in the Victorian style. Then again, passing up the opportunity to explore “the grandest mansion and oldest garden in New Castle” would also be regretful. We’re referring here to The George Read II House and Garden, which was completed in 1804 by the son of George Read, who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Serving as a showcase of the decorative arts of the Federal period and run as a living museum, the mansion is an ideal culmination of most New Castle weekend getaways.
Lastly, we can’t end this tale without letting you know of some of our favorites in terms of lodging and dining. The Kentucky Derby Inn & Tea Room is one option, with our choice being the Terry House Bed & Breakfast, whose garden overlooks the Delaware River and Battery Park. When it comes to food, the absolute favorite we simply have to tell you about is Jessop’s Tavern, with its antiques and a cozy, dark interior. Daily specials, along with colonial comfort food, were more than enough to make us fall in love with this place. Honorable mentions include Penn’s Place, Nora Lee’s French Quarter Bistro, and Caroline’s.