The 375th anniversary of the founding of New Sweden gives Delaware residents and visitors an ideal opportunity to explore our state’s Swedish heritage. Here are some places to start.
Old Swedes Church
Consecrated in 1699, Old Swedes—officially known as Holy Trinity Church—replaced a Lutheran log church called Trane (Crane) Hook, once situated between New Castle and Wilmington. Swedish missionaries served as pastors until 1791, when an Anglican led the services. In 1795, pastors from either the Lutheran or Episcopal faith were permitted to head the congregation, which became part of the Episcopal Diocese of Wilmington shortly thereafter.
The congregation’s growth led to the building of Trinity Chapel in 1830. Trinity later moved to property on North Adams Street. Old Swedes was restored, and today, services are offered at both sites. (652-5629, oldswedes.org)
Situated on the Swedes church grounds, the Hendrickson House dates back to the early 18th century, when it was built on Crum Creek in Chester County. The house was dismantled and reconstructed at Old Swedes in 1958. The stone house is considered so important to the area’s Swedish roots that Princess Birgitta and Princess Desiree of Sweden in 1960 paid it a visit. King Carl XVI Gustaf came in 1976 and again in 1988. (652-5629, oldswedes.org)
The Kalmar Nyckel
Launched in 1997, this full-scale recreation of the original ship is known as Delaware’s goodwill ambassador. In addition to its popular sailing excursions, the ship is the focus of yearly education programs sponsored by the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation. (429-7447, kalmarnyckel.org)
New Sweden Centre
Located on the Kalmar Nyckel’s grounds, the interpretive center showcases the Delaware Valley’s Colonial history; however, there’s a special emphasis on New Sweden. Thanks to the re-enactors, the public can get up close and personal with Swedish sailors, the Swedish Governor’s Guards, a ceremonial unit, and Gov. Johan Printz. (429-0464, colonialnewsweden.org)
The shipyard and center are near the site of the Kalmar Nyckel’s landing, known as “The Rocks,” where Fort Christina was built. The site, the home of Swedish sculptor Carl Milles’ granite monument, is a National Historic Landmark. Unfortunately, it’s only open during special events or when you make an appointment with the New Sweden Centre to see their exhibits.
For a list of places and societies in the surrounding area that celebrate Swedish and Finnish colonials and New Sweden, visit colonialnewsweden.org.
â–º For more about the Royal Family, click here.