Wilmington monument opens after more than a decade

The Swedish Tercentenary Monument at the Fort Christina National Historic Landmark. The site will open this summer for the first time in more than ten years. (photo courtesy Delaware Div. of Historical and Cultural Affairs)

The Swedish Tercentenary Monument at the Fort Christina National Historic Landmark. The site will open this summer for the first time in more than ten years. (photo courtesy Delaware Div. of Historical and Cultural Affairs)

For the first time in more than ten years, the Fort Christina National Historic Landmark will be open to the general public this summer.

One of the most important spots in the history of Delaware’s founding has been off limits to the public due to safety and financial concerns. It was only during special events that visitors could enter the Fort Christina National Historic Landmark and get an up close look at the Swedish Tercentenary Monument.

But that will change this summer. Starting on Memorial Day weekend, the site will be open to visitors.

“The National Park Service is thrilled that the gates of Fort Christina National Historical Park Landmark will swing open for the general public in 2016,” superintendent of the First State National Historical Park Ethan McKinley said.

The Fort Christina site was added to the First State National Historical Park in December 2014. “The site is a key piece of Delaware and the nation’s history,” McKinley said. “It marks the landing spot of the Kalmar Nyckel in 1638 and was christened as a park by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1938.”

The landmark is approximately where a group of Swedish and Finnish colonists landed on a natural wharf of rocks in 1638. The fort was named after then 12-year-old Queen Christina of Sweden. It was the first Swedish settlement in America and the first permanent non-native settlement in Delaware.

The site will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sundays and Mondays during Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. 

The reopening of the site is part of a larger effort to create a bigger tourism draw along Wilmington’s East Seventh Street peninsula. That work includes integrating the Kalmar Nyckel shipyard, Fort Christina National Historic Landmark, and Old Swedes Church with the Christina River water taxi and other Wilmington Riverfront attractions.

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