These two words say a great deal about Dover. It is a modern and growing city entering the 21st century on a foundation of achievement built over more than 300 years of American history.
And a rich history it is. Founded by William Penn in 1683, Dover has played a significant role in shaping America: In 1776 the legendary Delaware Blues mustered on The Green to march into history as among the most gallant troops of the American Revolution. In 1787, 30 delegates meeting at the Golden Fleece Tavern became the first Americans to ratify the Constitution, thus giving Delaware its honored title as the First State. The Underground Railroad came through Dover as heroic white and black Delawareans together risked grave danger to secretly deliver escaped slaves to freedom.
Incredibly — and very fortunately for visitors — much of that history occurred within a few minutes walking distance from this kiosk. The historical centerpiece is The Green, the public square laid out by William Penn. Here one can see the site of the Golden Fleece Tavern, The Old State House restored to its 1791 elegance, the John Bell House, homes and offices still in use in a beautiful sampling of American architecture from the colonial times through the early 20th Century. The Green is also where many historic gatherings occurred —
from the mustering of Col. Haslet's Blues, to the marching of Delaware's Doughboys off to war in 1918, to rallies for women's rights to vote, to recent visits by our American presidents.
Just east of The Green is a spacious collection of red brick buildings that comprise Delaware's capitol complex. The most stately of these is Legislative Hall, our capitol building, a 1933 structure that keeps architectural faith with The Old State House. Across from Legislative Hall is the Delaware Public Archives and the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center & Galleries. On The Green's eastern fringe is the Biggs Museum of American Art, one of the finest collections of American fine and decorative arts.
To the west of The Green located on New Street is the Johnson Victrola Museum. This site was originally known as Meeting House Square.
Two blocks north on State Street begins a new world as Old Dover gives way to Victorian Dover. Much of this can be seen in the detail on the facades of the commercial buildings lining Loockerman Street, the commercial center of Dover for over a century.
Stroll up State Street and stop at Rose Cottage. This fully restored house was built in the mid-19th century as the beginning of what became an extensive Victorian residential area known as Bradford City. The cottage today is home to the office of the First State Heritage
To the east, Kings Highway angles from State Street. Here is the old Richardson & Robbins Cannery, a source of Dover's 19th century prosperity and now a state office building. Stroll a little further and reach Woodburn, the Governor's House, Hall House and more stately dwellings.
There are many beautiful and historic sites beyond downtown Dover. John Dickinson Plantation, home to John Dickinson, the Penman of the American Revolution, is now a restored, living history plantation.
The town of Camden has many homes dating to the 1700s and on the National Register of Historic Place. It was here and in nearby Star Hill that Quakers and free blacks conspired to save many fugitive slaves who had bravely made their way north on the Underground Railroad. Barrett's Chapel, the Birthplace of American Methodism, lies a few miles south of Dover.
Aircraft history is displayed at the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover Air Force Base. Here, you'll visit the building where America's rocket program began and see historic airplanes, including the P-51 Mustang flown by the storied Tuskegee Airmen in World War II. Look around, and you'll surely see a C-5M Galaxy, the largest airplane in America.
These are just a few of the historic delights that greet visitors to the city where the United States began. So whether you're walking downtown,
visiting our eight varied museums or driving to nearby communities, enjoy your stay in Greater Dover where progress means preserving our heritage.