Our Story

An 1851 engraving of Old Swedes Church by John Sartain. Included in Elizabeth Montgomery’s book Reminiscences of Wilmington, published 1872.

The history of Old Swedes Historic Site dates back to 1638, when Swedish and Finnish settlers arrived on the ships Kalmar Nyckel and Fogel Grip and established Fort Christina in what is now Wilmington, Delaware. Our site was used as a burial ground for the Fort, but also holds signs of earlier use by the Lenape Native Americans. Holy Trinity (Old Swedes) Church was constructed 1698-1699 to serve the Swedish community that remained in the English colony of Pennsylvania after Swedish Lutheran missionary Erik Björk arrived in 1697.

Standing the test of time, Old Swedes Church is one of the very few surviving remnants of the New Sweden Colony in the Delaware Valley, and one of the oldest structures in Delaware. It has borne witness to many major events in U.S. history, including the American Revolution, World Wars I & II, and many more. Many individuals significant to local and national history are buried here.

Old Swedes Church and its burial grounds are complemented by the Hendrickson House, dating back to c. 1722. Built by a Swedish-American family in former New Sweden, it originally stood in Ridley Township, Pennsylvania. The structure was preserved and relocated to our site in 1960 to serve as a museum, office, and research space.

We invite all to come and discover our story firsthand. Learn more about visiting Old Swedes.