New Castle Justice
At least he didn’t have it that bad. Or so an unknown prisoner in the New Castle jail probably thought as he carved this large wooden model around 1875. It shows two men locked in a pillory atop a tall whipping post, at the base of which another convict is ready to receive a whipping for some unknown offense. Some time after its completion, another owner donated the model to the New Castle Historical Society.
By 1875, prisoners no longer had to fear the stocks or the lash, but the town’s whipping post still lived in memory. It had been near the center of the city of New Castle, a bustling port and the site of key events in the state’s early history. New Castle helped shape modern Delaware. Quite literally, in fact, given that the state’s northern border was drawn as an arc centered on the New Castle court house.
Today, the New Castle Historical Society helps visitors to the town appreciate its deep historical roots and the stories behind the quaint rows of old brick houses. You can visit the early Dutch House, the 1730s Amstel House, and the Society’s new visitor center at The Arsenal, where the whipping post model will soon be on exhibit. Step outside The Arsenal, perhaps on your way to one of the other historic sites in Old New Castle, and you can walk by the very spot where criminals received their lashes two centuries ago. Luckily for us, the whipping post is now only a memory and a museum artifact.
Visit the New Castle Historical Society
Location: 30 Market St., New Castle, DE 19720
Phone: (302) 322-2794
Hours: The visitor center at The Arsenal is open seven days a week. The Amstel and Dutch Houses are open year-round, Wednesday-Sunday (see website for tour times).
Admission: $6 for one house tour or $10 for both the Amstel and Dutch Houses.