DescriptionAlthough one early missionary feared the prevalent “bugs and mascatoes,” Dover was established in 1683 as the seat of Kent County and adopted as the state capital in 1777 after British forces invaded New Castle, forcing statesmen to flee south. Delaware's deciding vote for independence from British rule had been cast in Philadelphia a year earlier by Continental Congress delegate Caesar Rodney, whose historic 80-mile ride from Dover brought him to Independence Hall just minutes before the debate closed.
The city grew quickly in the early 18th century, with stately houses built around an attractive green designed by William Penn. It was at the Golden Fleece Tavern on The Green that Delawareans voted in 1787 to ratify the Constitution, making Delaware the first of the 13 states to do so.
Dover residents were divided about the slavery issue, but many prominent families helped runaway slaves escape to the North by means of the Underground Railroad. One such station may have been Woodburn, now the governor's residence, on King's Highway south of Division Street. Free tours of the home and gardens are available Monday through Friday upon request; phone (302) 739-5656.
Dover claims as its favorite daughter astronomer Annie Jump Cannon, who developed a prismatic technique of telescopic photography that enabled her to classify more than 400,000 stars. Her work at the Harvard Observatory during the first half of the 20th century contributed greatly to the Henry Draper Catalog, which is still used by astronomers.
Although Legislative Hall has been in use only since 1933, its 18th-century style handmade brick exterior and interior woodwork give it the same appearance as much of historic Dover. By visiting First State Heritage Park, visitors may view the governor's reception area and portraits of Delaware's governors and World War II heroes in Legislative Hall, on Legislative Avenue between Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. and William Penn St.; for guided tours phone (302) 739-9194 for First State Heritage Park.
Fine 18th- and 19th-century houses remain concentrated around The Green and north and south State Street. Many examples of Victorian architecture line S. State and S. Bradford streets, and 19th-century commercial structures still stand along Loockerman Street.
The Old Dover Historic District includes Christ Church, The Green, the Richardson and Robbins Complex, Wesley College and Woodburn, birthplace of Annie Jump Cannon.
Live harness racing takes place at Dover Downs on US 13 early November to mid-April; phone (302) 674-4600 or (800) 711-5882.
Note: Policies vary concerning admittance of children to pari-mutuel betting facilities. Phone for information.
Dover International Speedway at Dover Downs hosts two weekends of NASCAR racing in May and September-October, including the AAA 400; phone (302) 883-6500 or (800) 441-7223.
Visitor InfoCentral Delaware Chamber of Commerce 435 N. DuPont Hwy. (US 13) DOVER, DE 19901. Phone:(302)734-7513
Self-guiding toursBrochures outlining tours to many of the city's most interesting buildings and attractions are available at the Welcome Center, 121 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.; phone (302) 744-5055.
Things to SeeAir Mobility Command Museum
GAMBLING ESTABLISHMENTSDover Downs Hotel & Casino