New Castle, Delaware, is where William Penn first landed in America. The town, founded in 1651, is an unofficial national treasure. It has never been rebuilt or restored; it is a living, vital community, and its residents are not actors, but real 21st Century people. Yet New Castle retains a wealth of Federal, Colonial and Victorian buildings and a keen sense of its history.
Now walking tours of New Castle, a short drive from Cecil County on I-95 or U.S. 40, let visitors explore the town’s architecture and its many stories. Tour guides, all longtime residents, know both the “official” history and all the town’s legends, inspiring, humorous or scandalous. Tours can be tailored to individual interests: architecture, history, graveyards, or . . . ?
The tours are designed by James Travers, a lifelong resident of the town and author of “New Castle,” published in 2005. Visitors can take tours as extensions of a visit to the Courthouse Museum and other historic sites, or as customized tours. Tour guides, said Travers, “have a wealth of oral history to share about some of the colorful characters who have lived in the town and how some of the town’s buildings have changed purpose over the years.”
Tours, which usually last more than an hour, are available between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; or Sunday by appointment. Part of the proceeds will be donated to charities designated by the tour guide.
To schedule a tour, call 302-898-4072. Cost is $18, with discounts available for couples and groups.
Current guides of Travers Walking Tours:
James Travers, retired; 6th Street resident; author of “New Castle,” Arcadia Publishing, 2005.
Ken Sturgis, retired; 4th Street resident, chemical operator, E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.
Major N. Travers, III, retired; CWO III, Army Aviation, helicopter pilot; resident of The Woods; grew up in New Castle.
Daniel Bungy, 4th Street resident; State of Delaware Office of Alcoholic Beverage Control Commissioner.
Dean Mitchell, retired; 6th Street resident; history teacher for Colonial School District.