New life for two shuttered museums in Dover

The Children’s Theater of Dover and Kent County will be the new tenant in two historic buildings shuttered during budget cuts last year.

The economic downturn and state budget tightening last year forced state officials to shut down two small museums in Dover, the Museum of Small Town Life and the Delaware Archeology Museum, in order to cut expenses.  After the museums closed, a group of people who were disappointed with the decision to close started meeting to decide how the historic buildings could find new life.

After months of meetings and work, the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs reached a 25-year agreement with The Children’s Theater of Dover and Kent County to use the space.  The former site of the Museum of Small Town Life, Reith Hall, will be used as a performance space for the theater group.  The group will use the former Delaware Archeology Museum, Old Brick Church, as an administrative building.  The Children’s Theater will hold all its productions at the Schwartz Center for the Arts, just two blocks away from the group’s new home.

Both Reith Hall and Old Brick Church were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.  Old Brick Church was built in 1791 and was used as a house of worship until 1924.   The church also played host to the second State Constitutional Convention chaired by Delaware patriot John Dickinson.  Reith Hall was built as a chapel in 1880 and is named for the renowned stained glass artist William Reith who owned a studio in Philadelphia.  The building features one of the few stained glass windows actually signed by Reith.

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