DOVER — The Delaware Department of State announced Tuesday that it has transferred ownership of the Kirk and Short Building at 15 and 21 The Green in Dover to the Biggs Museum of the American Art.
“We are excited about this move because it’s a much better use of the property given the historical significance of The Green and its national park status,” said Secretary of State Jeff Bullock in a prepared statement.
“It will allow the Biggs to grow and expand and become an even more important asset to Dover and Kent County, while also creating additional tourism and business opportunities in the downtown area.
“The transfer is a smart, cost-effective decision that will save Delawareans money and will ensure that the building will realize its highest and best use as a cultural asset.”
The Kirk and Short Building, formerly known as the Todd House and the Kirk Printing Shop, was built in 1859 by Henry Todd, a prominent agriculturist who served as a state legislator and town commissioner of Dover.
Both properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Dover Green Historic District as well as being part of the city of Dover Historic District.
The building was most recently the administrative home to the Delaware Historical & Cultural Affairs, a division of the Department of State. It served as office space for HCA as no public programming function was served from the building.
HCA offices will move to state-owned property at Richardson Hall at 29 N. State St.
“The acquisition is a game-changing opportunity for the Biggs Museum of American Art,” said Executive Director of the Biggs Museum Charlie Guerin in a prepared statement.
“With the museum’s strengths in art collections from the 18th and 19th centuries, the acquisition of historic properties of that same period, adjacent to the museum on the Historic Dover Green, offers unique ongoing programmatic potential for our visitors. It will allow the museum to return these historic properties to direct cultural and historic use, and to join the First State Heritage Park, The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs and the First State National Historical Park by expanding public interpretation and understanding of Delaware’s rich historic, cultural, political and artistic history.”
Mr. Guerin said that in the months to come, the Biggs Museum will be engaged in a facilities master planning process to evaluate the building, along with the existing Biggs facility to determine the best way to take advantage of the acquisition.
“This is the a first step of a longer process, but it’s a huge opportunity for us to expand our footprint. We look forward to unlocking the maximum potential of these buildings and to tapping into the ways we can elevate our offerings to better serve the community through this added space,” said Biggs spokeswoman Kerri Lacey.
The Biggs Museum of American Art is a private not-for-profit art museum and has been operating adjacent to the Kirk and Short Building at its location at 406 Federal St., since its founding in 1993. Under a trust agreement executed in 1989, the state of Delaware and the Biggs Museum have been engaged in a public-private partnership.