• New Castle Court House - NPS

    First State

    National Monument DE,PA

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a national park and a national monument?

The difference is in the way they are designated. National monuments are generally proclaimed by the President of the United States under authority granted in the 1906 Antiquities Act. National parks are created through Congressional legislation. They are all part of the same system and in 1970, Congress clarified and elaborated on the 1916 National Park Service Organic Act saying that all units in the system have equal legal standing. Park units have different designations depending on the type of park or a description of its resources (national park, national historical park, national historic site, national seashore, etc.).

President Theodore Roosevelt was the first President to use the Antiquities Act in 1906 to designate Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming. It has been used by 16 presidents since then to protect unique natural and historic features in America, such as the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty.


What are some features of First State National Monument?

The national monument boundary includes lands primarily in New Castle and Kent Counties in Delaware. The national monument includes:


× Dover Green (Kent County) - Laid out in 1717, it was on the city of Dover's central square, known as The Green, that Delaware voted to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Throughout the years, it has also been the location of many rallies, troop reviews, and other patriotic events. Today, The Green remains the heart of Dover's historic district and is the location of the Delaware Supreme Court and the Kent County Courthouse. The Dover Green will be managed under an easement.


× New Castle Court House (New Castle County) The court house was the first capital of the state and its State House (1776-1777). In June, 1776, it is where both the state of Delaware was created when it separated from Pennsylvania and the legislature acted to become independent from Great Britain. In 1848, the principles of the Declaration of Independence were put to the test when abolitionists Thomas Garrett and John Hunn were tried here, found guilty, and fined for helping enslaved people emancipate themselves.

× Sheriff's House (New Castle County) - Built in 1858, the Victorian brownstone building served as , which sits behind the Court House, served as both the home of the sheriff and as the administrative site for the attached prison which, together with the adjoining New Castle Court House, served as the center of New Castle County's justice system. This structure is all that remains of the first county prison in Delaware. It was donated to the National Park Service by the State of Delaware for inclusion in the national monument.

× Woodlawn Tract (New Castle County) - More than 1,100 acres of woods and rolling pastures three miles north of Wilmington (220 of which are in Delaware County, Pennsylvania) including the Ramsey Farm, Upland Forest, scenic rock outcrops and wetlands along the banks of the Brandywine River. The property is historically significant to the early settlement in Delaware, and straddles and contains the demarcation line known as the "12-mile arc," which is a part of a circle drawn from the Old New Castle Courthouse establishing the boundaries of the British colonies of Pennsylvania and Delaware in the 17th century. In addition, the property still contains homes dating back to some of the first Quakers that settled the area with William Penn, and likely contains landscape patterns of these original Quaker settlement patterns which will be able to be established and identified within the cultural landscape. The tract was acquired by the Conservation Fund from the Woodlawn Trustees and donated to the National Park Service for inclusion in the national monument.

What is there to do right now at First State National Monument?

First State National Monument is a new national park area. There are no new national park facilities currently planned for these sites. In the coming years, you will see services added to the park done in cooperation with our partners.

Today, you can explore Delaware's history by enjoying the programs, facilities, and events sponsored and operated by our partners, Dover Green, the New Castle Court House Museum, and Woodlawn Trustees Property.

How big is the national monument?

The boundary encompasses more than 1,000 acres of a mix of federal, state, and city lands.

Did You Know?

Black and white illustration of John Hunn

Abolitionists Thomas Garret and John Hunn were tried in 1848 in the New Castle Court House in Delaware for violating the Fugitive Slave Act. Found guilty, they were fined thousands of dollars, lost their homes and businesses, but vowed to continue the fight against slavery regardless of the cost.