NPS Logo

Historical Background

Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings

Suggested Reading


Explorers and Settlers
Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings

National Historic Landmark NEW CASTLE

Location: New Castle County, on the Delaware River, 6 miles south of Wilmington.

New Castle, one of the oldest towns in the Delaware Valley, still reflects the heritage of some of its earliest citizens, the Dutch. In 1651, Peter Stuyvesant, Governor of New Amsterdam, assumed control over a Finnish and Swedish settlement farther upriver. He erected Fort Casimir—the counterpart of New Amsterdam on the Hudson—on a spit of land since carried away by the South (Delaware) River. In 1656, the fort and the surrounding settlement was renamed New Amstel. When the British captured it in 1664 and gave it its present name, it consisted of about 100 buildings. William Penn acquired the settlement as part of Delaware in 1682, and it was there that he first set foot in America. New Castle was a seat of government in Penn's colony and later briefly the capital of Delaware.

Among the historic places in New Castle are the McIntire House and the Old Dutch House [see entries directly above and below]; the Amstel House, built before 1730; Immanuel Episcopal Church, constructed between 1703 and 1710; the Gov. Gunning Bedford House of about 1730; and the Presbyterian Church, erected in 1707.

The Green—bounded by Delaware, Market, Harmony, and Third Streets—was laid out at the order of Stuyvesant when he assumed control of the settlement, and it remains the center of the historic town. One of the interesting old buildings situated on it is the Old Court House, on the north side of Delaware Street. A 20-foot section of its east wing may have existed when William Penn assumed rule of the Delaware region. One of the best times to sightsee in New Castle is on New Castle Day, on the third Saturday in May, when most of the historic buildings are open to visitors.

NHL Designation: 12/24/67

Previous Next
Last Updated: 22-Mar-2005