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This Month in Delaware History

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The Grand Opera House, c. 1893. DHS Photograph Collection BLD169On Friday night, December 22nd , 1871 one of Delaware’s cultural crown jewels, The Grand Opera House, enjoyed its gala opening.  The Grand is located in the heart of the city of Wilmington’s banking and commercial sector, at 8th and Market Streets. Its architect was Wilmington native, Thomas Dixon.  It was built in the ornate Second Empire style and is considered one of the finest remaining examples of 19th century cast iron architecture in America.  The construction cost of the “Grand Lady of Market Street” was $100,000  ($1,400,000 in today’s dollars) which was funded by the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons. When observing the façade of The Grand,  Masonic imagery can be seen, as testament to the Opera House being both built by and used for functions of the Grand Lodge of Mason s.  Read more.


Object of the Month

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ww1_Red Cross Motor Corps_1919Our object of the month for December portrays what would have been a rare idle moment for women in the Wilmington Red Cross Motor Corps during WWI.  Active in over 300 cities, American Red Cross Motor Corps volunteers worked tirelessly to transport troops and supplies for the Army and Navy and support other Red Cross workers in hospitals and canteens.  The Motor Corps began early in the war and by November 1918 had grown to include 12,000 volunteers who were required to volunteer at least 16 hours a week and often provided a family car or truck for transport. Read more and view full image.


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The Delaware Historical Society is the statewide, non-profit organization that explores, preserves, shares, and promotes Delaware history, heritage, and culture to strengthen our community.