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Karen's Plan: Rockwood Park And Museum And Ordinance 22-145 - Protecting Our Historical Assets


As the President of New Castle County Council for the last eight years, I have been deeply committed to preserving our County's historical treasures and ensuring they are protected for future generations. The research, drafting, and sponsoring of Ordinance 22-145, which passed unanimously on December 13, 2022, exemplifies this commitment. The ordinance mandates the creation of a policy to safeguard historically significant property connected with Rockwood Park & Museum, ensuring proper maintenance, preservation, and inventory. Rockwood Park & Museum, a historical gem built in 1851, houses the largest collection of Victorian-era furniture and memorabilia in the County, offering residents and visitors a glimpse into the past. As County Executive, I will continue to prioritize the protection and celebration of our unique heritage, making New Castle County a place where history and community thrive.

Rockwood Park & Museum & Ordinance 22-145: Protecting Our Historical Assets

Introduced on November 22, 2022, and passed unanimously, Ordinance 22-145 mandates that New Castle County Government establish a policy to safeguard historically important, antique, and unique property connected with Rockwood Park & Museum. This ordinance requires the Department of Community Services to create a written policy by June 1, 2023, ensuring that these priceless items are maintained, preserved, cataloged, and regularly inventoried in accordance with industry best practices. The policy also stipulates that such property must remain within the confines of Rockwood Park & Museum, except for formal loans and educational programs.

Background and Necessity

The need for Ordinance 22-145 became evident when historically valuable furniture pieces from Rockwood Mansion were discovered to have been moved for personal use in county offices without proper authorization. This misuse was revealed when furniture, used for six years by the Community Services General Manager, was returned on the day of the official tree-lighting ceremony in November 2022. The incident highlighted the lack of proper inventory, insurance, and accountability for the items at Rockwood Park & Museum.

Innovative Programs and Policies

To address these issues, I have supported the implementation of several innovative programs and policies:

Comprehensive Inventory and Cataloging System

A detailed inventory and cataloging system has been established to track all items within Rockwood Park & Museum, ensuring that every piece is accounted for and properly maintained.

Enhanced Security Measure

Security protocols have been upgraded to prevent unauthorized access and removal of museum pieces. This includes the installation of surveillance systems and strict access controls.

Educational Outreach and Partnerships

We have initiated partnerships with credible institutions for educational programming, allowing the public to learn about and appreciate our historical assets through formal loans and exhibitions.

Community Engagement

Regular public programming, including youth and family-friendly events, are held at Rockwood Park & Museum to engage the community and promote the appreciation of our cultural heritage.

Rockwood Park & Museum: A Historical Gem

Built in 1851 by Joseph Shipley and later transformed by the Bringhurst family, Rockwood Park & Museum is a significant historical site reflecting upper-crust family life from the turn of the 20th century through World War I. The 72-acre site, owned and maintained by New Castle County, features a priceless collection of Victorian furniture, memorabilia, letters, historic photos, and family clothing of that period. The park includes gardens, urban wildlife habitat, and paved trails linking to the Northern Delaware Greenway, making it a cherished destination for residents and visitors alike.

Our Commitment to Preservation

The mission of Rockwood Park & Museum is to serve residents and visitors through education and recreation while preserving its historic mansion, collections, and grounds. As your future County Executive, I am committed to continuing this mission, ensuring that our unique heritage is protected and celebrated. My extensive experience as Council President has prepared me to lead with integrity and vision, making New Castle County a place where history is preserved, and the community thrives.

Experience Matters

With a track record of supporting, advocating for, writing, and sponsoring legislation, my leadership has consistently focused on excellence in constituent service and community involvement. As your next County Executive, I will ensure that our historical assets are protected, our cultural heritage is celebrated, and our community continues to benefit from innovative and transparent governance. Join me in preserving the legacy of Rockwood Park & Museum and making New Castle County the best county in the country.

For more information on Ordinance 22-145 .

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