Delaware Airport Master Plan Wins the ACRA Industry Award for 2021

This September, Commonwealth Heritage Group, Inc. (Commonwealth) accepted the American Cultural Resource Association (ACRA) Industry Award – Public Sector on behalf of work completed for the Delaware Airport Master Plan. Staff worked with the Delaware River and Bay Authority, in consultation with the Federal Aviation Administration, Delaware Department of Transportation, and Delaware Historic Preservation Office, for their planned runway improvements to a small airport in Cheswold, Delaware.  The master plan improvements included archaeological surveys and analyses, archaeological data recoveries, architectural surveys, National Register evaluations, assessments of effect, memoranda of agreement, and the definition and implementation of a wide range of means to mitigate adverse effects on historic properties. These investigations provided an opportunity for archaeologists, historians, school groups, and the public to learn more about the history and prehistory of the airfield, the village of Cheswold, and the surrounding area through a variety of media.

Much of the mitigation was focused on public outreach. Commonwealth hosted a public open‐house during field work, which enabled all to observe archaeological excavations in-person and learn about the methods employed and artifacts recovered. The turnout and enthusiasm demonstrated at this event was gratifying and indicated just how much interest locals have in their past.

Interior Interpretive Panels Displayed at the Delaware Airport Terminal in Cheswold, Delaware.

Staff designed four permanent interpretive display panels that were installed at the airport terminal, an indoor display that focuses on history of the airpark and the community of Cheswold, and lastly an outdoor display that features the history of the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware and Floyd H.L. Durham—the founding father of Delaware aviation. In addition to these interpretive displays, a companion booklet (Delaware Airpark: From “Little Acres” to One of the State’s Premier Civil Airfields) serves as a perpetual witness to the varied and fascinating history of the area.

Exterior Interpretive Panels Displayed at the Delaware Airport in Cheswold, Delaware.

The outdoor displays were featured at Lenape Heritage Month events and the booklet was distributed free of charge throughout the state.

One unique piece about this project, was the ability to have both permanent and traveling interpretive components. Staff created a set of traveling exhibit panels that could be displayed temporarily at schools, libraries, historical societies, and other public venues, further expanding its reach to educate and engage with the public on such an important historical component of Delaware’s history.

Click here to view the design of the public interpretive panels, booklet, and more.

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