In the News!

June 20, 2022

Over the last two years, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the statewide nonprofit Preservation Delaware Inc. and the University of Delaware’s Center for Historic Architecture and Design (CHAD) program, have been chronicling the history of Delaware’s DuPont “Colored” Schools. Now, their efforts are coming together in two new reports that capture the oral history of student experiences and a study on the history and current condition of the buildings themselves.

Richard Allen School-1927.jpg

This image is a historic photo of the Richard Allen School in 1927. Courtesy of Hagley Digital Museum.

January 18, 2022

“We think by preserving the building on the front of this site, it would be a real plus for the community,” said developer Jeff Lang, who restored and lives in Everett Johnson’s old house, which is located next to the Press of Kells property.

Lang also plans to petition the state for a historical marker commemorating the history of the Press of Kells.

Meanwhile, Lang will demolish the rear portion of the Press of Kells building and replace it with a two-story, 10,000-square-foot medical office. The building will house the offices of Dr. Gary Beste – a primary care physician currently located on West Main Street – as well as other medical services.

Though Lang officials are now committed to restoring the building, the historic structure almost met an unceremonious end.


An artist's rendering shows the proposed changes to the Press of Kells building - Lang Development Group

December 12, 2021

"A school building once used to segregate Black students will soon play a new role in educating all students in the areas of diversity, inclusion, and social equity.

"The northern Delaware schoolhouse was known as Hockessin School 107C or the Hockessin Colored School in 1950, when Shirley Bulah would walk two miles to classes. As she walked, buses carrying white students who lived nearby would pass along the road. Her parents petitioned the state for similar transportation for their daughter but were rejected.

"Shirley’s mother, Sarah Bulah, convinced Wilmington lawyer Louis Redding to sue the state. That case was eventually combined with others in Virginia, South Carolina, and Kansas to become the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregation was unconstitutional in 1954."

This is one of the schools included in Preservation Delaware's Dupont Schools Oral History Project


Hockessin School 107C

December 12, 2021

"Over time, weather, age and termites have taken a toll on Warren’s Mill, the greater Millsboro area’s last-known standing grist mill that is scheduled to soon be coming down.

Barring collapse on its own, demolition of the structure, sheathed in clapboard with a gambrel roof that stands on a concrete base near the shoulder of Betts Pond Road, could begin this coming week, possibly today."

December 6, 2021

"A group of people belonging to various denominations and professions is planning to restore the building and preserve the almost 150-year history it holds. 

Friends of Zoar Inc., founded in January, welcomed the public to an open house Saturday at the church as part of the Christmas in Odessa tour. It was the first time in the event’s 57-year history that a historic Black building will be featured.  

They want to preserve the history tied to the church."

December 2, 2021

"Anyone who has lived in Delaware’s coastal towns or long visited the beaches can point to how much this area has changed. 
Many of the little beach cottages have been replaced with looming three-story homes. Chain stores and restaurants have sprouted where mom-and-pop shops used to thrive. And yes, the roads are almost always full of traffic."

"Many people don’t want to see historic buildings discarded, but they also know that growth is inevitable. It’s a balancing act that Delaware’s beach towns know too well."

Wilmington’s Stitch House Brewery and the New Castle County Council have received “Friends of Historic Preservation” awards from  Preservation Delaware for their commitment to preserving Delaware’s history and heritage.  

The new awards honor individuals, groups, or projects that have made significant contributions to the field of historic preservation in Delaware.  Nominations are taken throughout the year, and the recipients are selected and presented with the awards at Preservation Delaware’s Annual Conference in October.  

PDI Education Committee Chairperson Alex Tarantino said, “The awards showcase accomplishments that are often overlooked and provide a platform to honor the great work that is being done to further historic preservation efforts in Delaware.”

This year, two awards were presented.  They include: 

Individual Awardee:  Drew Rutherford and Rob Snowberger, Stitch House Brewery

Preservation Delaware has been involved in efforts to save the Dr. John A. Brown Mansion in Wilmington from demolition.  Between 1848 and 1856, the property belonged to the notable horticulturalist and philanthropist, Dr. John A. Brown.  In fact, this is where the Browntown neighborhood gets its name.  Dr. Brown produced mineral tonics and his signature Sassparilla (or root beer) for the Wilmington and other locations along the East Coast.

This summer, Stitch House Brewery (located on Market Street in Wilmington) donated $1 from every pint sold of their Downtown Premium Lager to the fund to save the Brown Mansion.   This not only helped to raise funds for the future of the mansion but has also been instrumental in helping to call attention to such a worthy cause.  Preservation Delaware, therefore, recognizes Drew Rutherford and Rob Snowberger, the owners of Stitch House, for their contribution to this cause in preservation. 

Group Awardee:  New Castle County Council

Over the past couple of years, New Castle County, under the leadership of Councilmembers Dee Durham, John Cartier, and Dave Carter, has successfully passed a flurry of legislation and other initiatives to advance the cause of historic preservation in the county.  The Council formed the NCC Historic Preservation Working Group to discuss priorities for county code amendments and additions, and to act as advocates in support of such changes.

Some updates include:

●      Ordinance #20-112 mandates that historic properties that are acquired by New Castle County government be placed in Historic Overlay Zoning, enhancing their review and protection, and modeling what all levels of government should be doing regarding prioritizing care for the historic resources they own.

●      Ordinance #20-93 provides an exception from the obligation to register and pay an annual fee for a vacant premise where the property is zoned Historic (H) or has been initiated for H—re-zoning and plans for restoration are underway.

●      Ordinance #20-071 was a long overdue comprehensive preservation ordinance which consisted of many updates to NCC code, including: a stipulation that major development plans which involve a historic resource must now put that resource under Historic zoning and submit plans for restoration, expansion of adaptive reuse options, and required annual inspections by the County for Historic Overlay-zoned properties.

●      Ordinance #19-106 reestablished the historic tax credit program in New Castle County.

●      Ordinance #19-080 clarified the application process and established firmer timelines for demolition requests that are heard by the Historic Review Board. 

In addition, a new historic marker program was established which provides a bronze plaque to recognize and honor property owners who place their properties in Historic Overlay Zoning.

The renewed interest in historic preservation in New Castle County is clear - in just the past two years, four new properties have also been placed in Historic Overlay Zoning districts – and County Council is leading by example through their efforts to strengthen the county code and encourage preservation.

PDI plans to expand the awards and categories in future years. 

The evidence of Delaware’s history is disappearing fast! Hardly a week goes by that we don’t see one of the historic buildings in our state being demolished or simply falling down through neglect. Or how often does some sort of new development take place on top of the sacred remains and evidence of the native peoples of Delaware? As president of Preservation Delaware Inc., these things affected me deeply. But I’ve been thinking about the potential to turn this trend around and how Delaware’s success in preserving our farmland might be duplicated to preserve our history.

At Preservation Delaware Inc.’s recent conference, I proposed the possibility of creating a new program in Delaware to preserve our historical and archaeological resources patterned after our successful farmland-preservation efforts. Such a program would utilize preservation easements placed on these historical resources to ensure that these would not be demolished or built over. Owners would receive a payment in return for permanently agreeing to keep these buildings in good repair and historically accurate. And there should be a significant public interest and support for such a program.

Delaware is known as the First State, and that’s a title that can never be taken away from us! I’ve always thought that we undervalued the historical significance of our state, especially when compared to what I’ve seen in other Colonial states. Our history, and the resources that represent it, provide a backdrop in Delaware that sets us apart.

October 28, 2021

Demolition request for the Press of Kells Building in Newark (asking to remove the deed restrictions!). See the City's Public hearing notice below.  The building was associated with Everett C. Johnson (his house stands by the Wawa at the intersection of Library and Route 4), who founded the press.  This would be a real loss for DE history.
"The Press of Kells in Newark, Delaware, was a product of the dreams and work of Everett C. Johnson, orator, scholar, teacher, and statesman and an almost forgotten man in Delaware history. Inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement, he established what was for a time considered to be the finest print shop in the State of Delaware. The fortress-like stone building that was home to the Newark Post still stands, and at the time of this writing the lively hometown paper is celebrating its ninetieth year. His editorials kept the citizens of Newark well informed. He offered his paper as a forum to all who wished to express their opinions in a responsible way.

Extremely patriotic, he served two years as State Representative and four years as Secretary of State, encompassing World War I. Suffering from ill health most of his life, this frail man persevered in his efforts to raise the living and educational standards of all Delawarians. Considered the state's foremost orator, he often delivered speeches with such force that he received standing ovations and then had to be helped, exhausted, from the stage. His punishing work schedule sometimes left him bedridden over the weekend in order to build up enough strength to make it through the following week. Sadly, his life was cut short at the age of forty-eight, depriving the State of Delaware of one of its most progressive and dedicated visionaries."

July 27, 2020

"On July 15, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) unveiled its final revisions to regulations that will govern how, going forward, CEQ will implement the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)."

May 24, 2020

"Preservationists, including leaders of Preservation Delaware Inc., two members of the New Castle county Council and some Bayberry North residents, claim that Blenheim has failed to live up to legally binding promises made more than a decade ago to preserve the farmhouse. By failing to maintain the property, they say, Blenheim has engaged in a practice known as “demolition by neglect.”

May 24, 2020

"Preservationists, including leaders of Preservation Delaware Inc., two members of the New Castle county Council and some Bayberry North residents, claim that Blenheim has failed to live up to legally binding promises made more than a decade ago to preserve the farmhouse. By failing to maintain the property, they say, Blenheim has engaged in a practice known as “demolition by neglect.”

May 15, 2020

"Permitting Blenheim to tear down the farmhouse and the barn on the property, and then allowing Blenheim to build new homes on the site would amount to “rewarding the developer with five additional lots for his bad actions,” says Mike McGrath, a former county planner who is now president of Preservation Delaware, a nonprofit that advocates for the preservation and maintenance of historic structures and sites."

March 12, 2020

"We have to strengthen the code. We're not going to agree on everything, but we have to do the best we can." - Kevin Caneco, Historic Preservation Working Group participant

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