First State Heritage Park starts October with a packed weekend. It kicks off with a lantern tour of The Green on Friday, Oct. 1, and is followed with First Saturday activities throughout the park on Oct. 2.

Visitors to The Green Saturday, Oct. 2, will have an opportunity to watch archaeology excavations in progress at the John Bell House. The building, which is the oldest wooden structure in Dover, is being restored to serve as an interpretive center for the park. It dates back to at least the mid-1700s and was owned by three generations of the Bell family. The Bells owned and operated a series of 18th-century taverns around The Green, and it is believed that this structure originally served as a workshop.

Another First Saturday highlight is a visit from George Washington, complementing a program at The Old State House about an imposing portrait of the general that graces the Senate chamber.

Living history expert David Emerson, in character as Washington, will present a free half-hour program at noon and at 3:30 p.m., and will interact informally with visitors to The Old State House from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission to all Saturday sites and activities is free, except for Segway tours. Free parking is available at the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, 121 Duke of York St.

For more information, call 739-9194 or visit

First Saturday Schedule
9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Archaeological excavation at the John Bell House, The Green: As the restoration of the John Bell House nears completion, an archaeological excavation will look for intact deposits that may reveal the activities of occupants who have worked at this site since about 1750. The public is invited to observe this dig in progress. They will have an opportunity to meet archaeologists and historians to learn about the original 18th century frame house and its occupants. The John Bell House, which dates to the mid-1700s, will be used by the First State Heritage Park as a site for historic programs and interpretation. Self-guided audio walking tours with free audio wands available at the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center, at the Delaware Public Archives, 121 Duke of York St.

9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, 121 Duke of York St.: The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs presents the exhibit “USS Delaware: An American Battleship.” The story of the USS Delaware (1909-1924) is told through objects, photographs, and ceremonial silver. Guided tours of Legislative Hall-Delaware’s Capitol: Legislative Hall has been the seat of Delaware’s General Assembly since 1933. Tour the House and Senate chambers while learning about the legislature and Delaware history. Photo ID is required for all adults. “I’d Like to Buy That Song,” Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St.: Explore Victor Talking Machine Company dealerships and record stores, both locally and around the world, and hear music from artists of the early 20th century.

10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Tours of the Governor’s House at Woodburn, 151 Kings Highway: Guided tours of Woodburn, the official residence of Delaware’s Governor, as well as Hall House, the guest house.

10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“The Magnificent General” at the Old State House, The Green: Explore the history of Denis A.Volozan’s portrait of George Washington that hangs in the Old State House and interact informally with Washington, as portrayed by David Emerson.

Noon, 3:30 p.m.

Meet George Washington at the Old State House, The Green: Watch David Emerson’s living history presentation as Washington.

10:30 a.m.

Vital Records: Beyond Births, Marriages and Deaths, Delaware Public Archives, 121 Duke of York St.: Genealogist Nancy Lyons shows how to use birth, marriage, and death records to document each generation in a family tree. Learn how to locate these primary sources and how this information can help lead to other valuable records.

11:30 a.m.

Segway tours of First State Heritage Park’s Historic Sites: Tours leave from the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center, 121 Duke of York St. Admission charged. For prices and reservations visit

2 p.m.

Dover’s Heroes of the Revolution walking tour, meet at Christ Church (corner of South State and Water streets): Visit the graves and former residences of Dover’s Revolutionary War heroes, hear their stories and remember their sacrifices.

2 to 3:30 p.m.

Biggs Kids make handprint wreaths, Biggs Museum, 406 Federal St.: Each child’s handprint is unique, and each wreath will be, too. Ages 5 to 10 welcome. Program is free, but reservations are required. For more information or to register, call 674-2111.