Thursday, February 26, 2015

Final Red Clay Valley History Talk

The third and final talk in the Red Clay Valley History series (for this year, at least) will be held on Monday night, March 2, at 7:00 PM. As with the others, it's taking place at the Wilmington & Western's business office on Railroad Avenue in Marshallton. The topic this time is the history of the Wooddale area, and it's being presented by....wait, who was that again?....oh right, me. It will cover some ground already included in previous blog posts, but tied together and with some additional information.

Should be a fun evening, hope to see you there! If you'd like to RSVP, you can do it here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Brandywine Springs Park Request

I just found out recently that New Castle County has decided to tear down the main pavilion at
Brandywine Springs Park and rebuild a new one. For those familiar with the park, this would be the larger pavilion down the hill from the parking lot, as seen here. Apparently it is suffering from structural problems that are too extensive to economically fix, so NCC has determined that it's more cost effective to just replace it.

I've had some fun there, but the pavilion itself is not particularly historically valuable, so I don't have any problem with them putting in a nice, new facility. The existing pavilion was built in the 1950's, when the park, originally a State Park, first opened. And as those of you who have been around here a while may recall, it was not originally alone. When Brandywine Springs State Park opened, there was another building that stood in front of the pavilion, just to the left of the photo above. This building contained the park office, along with restrooms. We're not quite sure exactly when this office was removed, but some recall it still being present as late as the mid-1980's.

Now here's my challenge to you -- Does anyone have any more information, any fond memories (that would be suitable for a family blog), or any old photographs of the office or the pavilion? More specifically, does anyone remember exactly when the office was torn down? Any special memories of the pavilion to help eulogize it? And does anyone happen to have any pictures that might happen to show the office in the background? I realize that it's unlikely that you would have taken just a picture of the office, but maybe it might be visible in the background of a shot from a picnic, or a party, or a family reunion. Thanks!!

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Barker Mill Site

Barker Sawmill race, 1895
I fully and freely admit that I'm an amateur at this history thing. I'm not writing academic papers here, and for the most part my biggest contribution is in compiling the work of others and gathering information together from scattered sources, hopefully putting it into a coherent story. Like you, I'm just a guy who finds this stuff interesting. Maybe my biggest asset is that I have a high tolerance for wading through lots of junk to find the widely-scattered jewels.

But now that I've spent more than five years just combing through Mill Creek Hundred related history, there's one other thing I can add. I have a fairly decent memory, and once in a while as I'm researching a particular topic I'll stumble upon something related to a subject I'd covered in the past. A name, place or word will jump out at me, and I'll have to go back and see if it's truly new information. It may even be something I had seen before, but had failed to recognize the significance of until after I had done an investigation.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Save the Eli B. Talley House!

The E. B. Talley House on Mt. Lebanon Road
Considering everything I said in the last post about vigilance and advocacy for endangered historical sites, I'd be remiss and more than a bit hypocritical if I didn't bring to light what's going on right now up in Brandywine Hundred. There's an active situation involving an historic house that actually has elements of both the Abram Chandler House and Sunnybrook Cottage. I'm not sure what the odds are right now for saving it, but I want to make sure everyone is aware of the story revolving around the Eli Talley House on Mt. Lebanon Road.

The beautiful, whitewashed stone house sits on the north side of Mt. Lebanon Road just off of Concord Pike (Rt. 202) in Talleyville. Mt. Lebanon Road is the one heading west near the Talleyville Fire Comany, the post office, and the big Taco Bell. The house is on the right, just past the Boston Market, the Brandywine YMCA, and the Brandywine Valley Baptist Church. The three-bay, two story home, of course, long predates any of these, having reportedly been built in 1814.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Red Clay Valley History Talk -- Mt. Cuba Center

A last-minute reminder that the second in the series of Red Clay Valley History Talks is tonight, February 2, 2015. The topic of tonight's talk is the Mt. Cuba Center, it's gardens and grounds. The event begins at 7:00 PM, the doors open at 6:30. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted to help benefit Historic Red Clay Valley, Inc. The lecture is being held at the Wilmington & Western Railroad's business office building, on Railroad Avenue in Marshallton -- not at the Greenbank Station. A map and directions can be found here.

Looks like the weather gods cooperated again, so hope to see you there!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Two Losses and the Case for Vigilance

Now we get to what was supposed to be my third and final "catch up on stuff I'd missed" post,
following the posts about the Coffee Run site and the Byrnes Mill Dam. With the news I received over the weekend, though, this is now going to be a much different post. Less of just reporting some news, and more of getting up on my soapbox and trying to ease my own conscience.

I was originally simply going to report the now almost two month old story of the loss of the Abram Chandler House on Limestone Road in Milltown. The house (which was one of the first sites featured on the blog, nearly five years ago) had been vacant for several years, and the blaze has since been determined to have been arson. It was apparently in pretty bad shape even before the fire, and according to the News Journal article the owners could not be contacted. Under the circumstances it's hard not to be very suspicious about some sort of insurance situation, although as far as I know no suspects have been named.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Byrnes Mill Dam Removal

The second recent news item I'd like to catch up on is the one I described in the last post as "good news that at first might seem like bad news". Back in the middle of December, an article appeared in the News Journal about the intentional partial destruction of a structure more than 220 years old. Normally that would be tragedy, but in this case the structure in question was a dam on White Clay Creek that fed a mill associated with the Hale-Byrnes House. The dam is located amidst the White Clay Creek Country Club golf course (Delaware Park), and was removed for a very good reason.

The following article was written especially for us by Jerry Kauffman, University of Delaware professor and director of UD's Water Resources Agency. I'd like to thank Dr. Kauffman for providing us with this, and for all his work in local environmental and historical preservation.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

New Life for Two Old Sites

Now that my own life is starting to get back to a regular rhythm and I've completed (for now) my two month trek through the Cranston family tree, it's time to catch up on a few news items that have popped up recently. I'm sure that many of you have seen some or all of these stories, but I'd like to take the opportunity point a few of them out and say a few words of my own. Of the three I want to bring up, we've got good news, bad news, and good news that at first might seem like bad news.

The first one is the most recent story to appear, showing up in the News Journal on Monday, January 12. According to the article, Trinity Community Church, which recently purchased the Coffee Run Church site on Lancaster Pike, will submit plans to once again have a place of worship on the site of Delaware's first Catholic Church. Trinity founder Steve Trader feels that the property is holy ground, and that, "God made this a church."