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Featured previously in Catherine Morrisseys Rest in Pieces series on Facebook, these Historic Delaware buildings were unfortunately demolished. Even though some of these buildings are the last of their kind in Delaware, decay and vacancy causes them to be destroyed so new architecture can be created.
As many of you know, CHAD was awarded a highly competitive grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) to digitize our collection -- and these postings will provide a glimpse of some of the materials being digitized from our collection!
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First up, the Jehu M. Reed House was significant on several accounts. For more than 200 years, from 1685 through 1912, the property maintained an association with the Reed family, a well-known Central Delaware family. Constructed in 1771, the house expanded in 1868 to both accommodate and express the lifestyle of Jehu M. Reed, an agricultural pioneer and benefactor whose advances and techniques in farming helped foster Delaware's peach and apple industry. Additionally, the house stood as an exemplary blend of rural Mid-Atlantic architecture that melded the original fabric of a Georgian structure with a mid-to-late nineteenth century Italianate/Victorian plantation. [Documented February 2000, demolished 2017]
Up next is the Wertmuller-Clyde house, located on the grounds of the Claymont Steel Company on Philadelphia Pike. Built in three periods between 1780 and 1850, the brick section was the oldest portion of the dwelling. Sarah Robinson and her husband Richard Peters built the house as a hall-parlor plan. The period II stone section (c. 1803) of the dwelling was built by Swedish painter Adolph-Ulrich Wertmuller and his wife Elizabeth. The stone section was also built with a two-room plan on the first floor, adding more public and private space to the house, while reorienting the dwelling to face Philadelphia Pike. Both Adolph and Elizabeth died in 1811, and the property was used as a tenant farm until 1835. Thomas and Rebecca Clyde purchased the property, and began a major rebuilding campaign around 1850. These changes included the reworking of the interior configuration, stylistic updates, raising portions of the roof, and the addition of the attached one-story frame kitchen wing. In 1918 the property was purchased by the Worth family, as part of their plans to erect a major steel factory and adjacent workers housing. The house sat in the center of the industrial complex and was used over the course of the twentieth century as a dwelling and later offices. The industrial complex was sold many times over the course of the twentieth century; in 2013 the owner (Evraz Group) announced the site would be permanently closed. [Documented 2008, demolished 2016].
We are throwing this one all the way back to 1988 with a representative of one of my favorite building types found throughout Sussex County--the Chipman sweet potato house. Nominated to the National Register as part of the historic context "Sweet Potato Houses of Sussex County" at the time it was one of the last surviving sweet potato houses with much of its interior still intact. These outbuildings were built all over Sussex County from 1900s-1940s as the production of sweet potatoes boomed. It was built in 1913 by the Chipmans and "represented a high style of sweet potato house." The Chipman sweet potato house had several key architectural features that made it a sweet potato house--it was two-and-a-half stories in height, had an interior heat source (for keeping the sweet potatoes a consistent temperature), double interior walls, with storage bins on the first and second floors. [Documented 1988 and 2014, demolished 2016-2017]
One of Michael Emmons favorite nominations is Smyrna's "Woodlawn," also known as the Thomas England House -- lost in 2017. Woodlawn's National Register nomination declared it "the most literal and monumental expression of the Greek Revival style in Delaware" due to its grandiose 1853 temple front. Yet its history and architecture was deep and layered, and rear portions of the house dated originally to at least 1741. During demolition, the suspicions of earlier architectural historians were confirmed -- the rearmost section of the house was of 'plank' (log) construction, representing a very early and rarely-surviving construction type in Delaware. Subsequent additions included brick and frame construction, with interesting adaptations to retain a cohesive interior floorplan. During the 20th century, Woodlawn was used as a candy store, and later, as a well-known restaurant, the Thomas England House -- adding another layer of nostalgia and significance for many Delawareans. Still, the building was destroyed in July 2017 -- and it now sits vacant with a sign advertising the lot as a development opportunity. [Documented 1982 and 2017, demolished 2017 ]
Originally documented in 2001, the Cann Farm in Glasgow, is our next "Rest in Pieces" featured property. The Cann family established several farms in the Glasgow area in the nineteenth century, and this was the last extant farm associated with them. The farm had many outbuildings that reflected the nature of agricultural production in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries typical in this region. Development plans in 2001 called for the demolition of a majority of the complex including the cow barn, dairy barn, machine sheds, milk house, storage building, chicken house, privy, and carriage house. At the time, the house and granary were to be retained. Fast forward to 2015, when a demolition permit was requested for the house. The brick dwelling was built between 1820-1836 and featured at least four construction periods. The first floor featured a three-room plan, with two doors on the front facade. The property was owned by the Cann family until 1947. At that time (2015) the granary was already demolished, and the house soon followed. [Documented 2001 and 2015, demolished 2017?]
Our last featured property is Sunnybrook Cottage also known as the Henry Clark House. Sometimes we document high profile, well known houses like the Jehu Reed House or the Thomas England House. Other times we record historic structures where their demolition goes relatively unnoticed and without too much historic research done. This unfortunately is the case with Sunnybrook Cottage. The core of Sunnybrook is likely a circa 1800-1850 stone house, expanded in a couple of phases. Scott Palmer at the Mill Creek History Blog has done some research on the nineteenth century history of the house. But what fascinated us the most, was its early twentieth century use as a "Tuberculous Preventorium." Opened in October of 1919 children exposed to TB (but who had not contracted the disease) were sent to Sunnybrook (see attached newspaper article about its opening). This is likely when the large Doric second floor sleeping porch was added to the stone dwelling. Sunnybrook continued to be used as an anti-TB site until it was turned over to the Delaware Commission for the Blind in 1950. The building functioned as a nursery school for blind children for much of the twentieth century. The property is owned by Blindsight Delaware today. [Documented 2014, demolished 2015]
CHAD intern Andreanna Roros created a set of GIS Story Maps about a past CHAD project, the Threatened Buildings Surveys of Delaware. There is a separate Story Map for each of Delaware's three counties: New Castle, Kent, and Sussex. Here you can view and read about buildings which have mostly all disappeared. She also created a GIS Map of all threatened buildings that were surveyed in Delaware, where you can quickly view which have been demolished and which are still standing.