About New Castle

About New Castle

New Castle, Delaware

New Castle, Delaware is the state’s oldest and most historic town as well as the oldest surviving town in the Delaware Valley. Situated on the Delaware River at the head of Delaware Bay is this small town. The 2006 Census Bureau estimates the population at 4,836.

Originally settled by the Swedes in 1640 the original name of New Castle was Fort Casimir, then changed to Trefaldigheet “Trinity” following its capture by the Swedes. The Dutch captured it again in 1654 and changed the name to New Amstel and in 1664 the name was changed to New Castle after the British defeated the Dutch. The Court House in New Castle, Delaware was once the meeting place for the Colonial Assembly for 72 years prior to the Revolution.

New Castle was the first capital of the Delaware Colony, but a kidnapping of the governor made it prudent to move the seat of government in 1777 to a safer inland location. In fact the spire on the top of the New Castle Court House was used as the center of the 12-mile circle forming the northern boundary of Delaware and the Mason-Dixon Line which became the dividing mark between Delaware and surrounding states. Three signers of the Declaration of Independence were from New Castle - Thomas McKean, George Read and George Ross.

New Castle is unlike many other Colonial towns as it is neither reconstructed or a preserved historical district. It is a residential town that is roughly five blocks wide by two blocks long. This historical charm can be seen from the inside and out on the “A Day in Old New Castle” which began in 1924. On this day residents open their private, historical homes to the public for tours.

When strolling along in New Castle be sure to stop at the Read House. In 1801 it was George Read II’s goal to build the biggest house in Delaware. He spent nearly $12,000 (roughly $2.5 million today) to build this 22 room, 14,000 square foot mansion. Read was sure to include the most modern amenities at the time including an elaborate hot-air roasting ovens and steam tables in his kitchen and a shower with hot-running water in the Bathing Room. Today visitors are able to tour the home and visit the one-and-half acres garden that were installed by the homes second owner in 1847. These gardens rank as the oldest surviving garden in the region and was featured in the November 1901 issue of House and Garden magazine. This historical home has also been seen on Good Morning America and Bob Vila’s Guide to Historic Homes of America.

Other local historical attractions include the Dutch House which traces its origins to the late 17th Century and exhibits early Dutch furniture and decorative arts, the Old Library on 3rd Street was built in 1892 and is in the shape of a hexagon which exhibits New Castle’s history and the Amstel House which was built in the 1730s by the town’s wealthiest landowner, Dr. John Finney. This house has been frequented by many prominent people in the past. A governor has lived there, the Delaware Signers of the Declaration of Independence stopped there to meet with friends and George Washington attended a wedding in the parlor.

While strolling the streets of New Castle be sure to stop and have a picnic or walk the walkways at picturesque Battery Park. Battery Park is located at the foot of Clinton Street and provides a serene river front setting for a variety of recreational activities. The park provides beaches and visitors can see a view of the Delaware Memorial Bridge north as well as Pea Patch Island.

New Castle is served by the Colonial School District and is close to many private schools as well also boasts the New Castle Public Library.

Other Historical New Castle Sites Include:

  • Amstel House, 2 East Fourth Street (~1730) Home of New Castle Historical Society
  • Booth House, SE corner Delaware St & Third St (~1750 but with many renovations since)
  • Gilpin House, 210 Delaware St. (One of the town’s oldest buildings, but three renovations over time have obscured original façade)
  • Immanuel Episcopal Church, on the Green (1730)
  • Old New Castle Court House, opposite Gilpin House on Delaware St. Original colonial capital; first state house of Delaware. Served as Court House until 1882, when county seat was moved to Wilmington.
  • Read House, on the Strand (1801). One of the finest examples of Georgian architecture in America.
  • Old “Dutch” House, (mid 17th century). Oldest dwelling in the state of Delaware. Presumably built during Dutch colonial period.
  • New Castle Academy, On the Green (1708)
  • The Arsenal, On the Green (1809)
  • Van Leuvenigh House, S.E coner Delaware St. & the Strand (~1677)
  • Kensey Johns House, 1 Third Street (1789)
  • Town Hall & Market Place, Corner 2nd Street & Delaware Street
  • Gunning-Bedford House, 6 The Strand (~1730)
  • New Castle-Frenchtown RR Ticket House, Foot of Delaware St. (1832)
  • Old Presbyterian Church, Opposite Old Town Hall (1707)
  • Janvier House, 208 Delaware Street (~1800)

Contact Information

Photo of Chubb Realty Group Real Estate
Chubb Realty Group
RE/MAX Associates
2900 B Concord Pike
Wilmington DE 19803
Direct: 302-388-8699
Direct: 302-478-6425
Fax: 302-468-1893