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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Country Roller Rink -- Updates and Extras

After completing the post about the Country Roller Rink (located next to Brandywine Springs Amusement Park) I happened to come across some more information while aimlessly wandering...um, I mean diligently researching the subject in some of the old digitized newspapers. I've made a few updates to the original post, but instead of making those of you who have already read the post go back and wade through to find the new stuff, I thought I'd lay it out here, too. Mostly the new information deals with the actual rink buildings themselves -- their construction, size and layout, and the nature of the second rink. I also found some more about the drive to fund the initial construction, as well as some other pictures. This post will end up being a bit heavier on pics and short(er) on text.

In the original post, I mentioned that Cloward and the others behind the rink sold stock to the public in order to fund its construction. What I didn't realize is just how hard they pushed for buyers. All through February, March, and April there were various large ads run selling people on buying into the rink. Below is one that ran on March 17, 1907. There was even a large ad soliciting "amateur agents" to sell stock on their own. They would "accept any reputable person of Wilmington (and immediate vicinity) as an agent, skaters preferred". Agents would receive one share for every ten they sold.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

MCH History Blog On the Road: The New Castle County Courthouse

The New Castle County Courthouse
I've decided to introduce a new occasional feature -- MCH History Blog On the Road. Here we'll look at sites and structures beyond the borders of Mill Creek Hundred. They may have some sort of a connection to MCH, or they may just be things I personally like or feel some sort of connection to. It's certainly not meant to be a comprehensive or systematic look at the wider area, just an excuse to feature some topics I find interesting.

My own personal gateway into the study of local history -- before I started focusing on Mill Creek Hundred -- was learning about the history of Wilmington. I think in large part this was just because that's what there's the most written about. There are lots of books and other material written about the First State's largest city -- about MCH, not so much. While reading about the 300 plus year history of Wilmington and its predecessors, one building always stood out to me, and quickly became my personal favorite -- the (first, in Wilmington) New Castle County Courthouse. It only stood for less than 40 years, but it was probably the best-known building in the city during its time. Its location is still one of the best-known spots in town, even if very few now know what used to stand there.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Brown's Track -- Forerunner to Delaware Park?

Sunday Morning Star, August 15, 1909
I know I've threatened before to put up "short" posts, only to have them end up being longer than I expected. This one, though, really will be short. I have nothing more than what I found, and a vague thought. What I found (while wandering through the old Sunday Morning Stars that are online) is the paragraph you see to the right. This appeared in the August 15, 1909 edition, at the bottom of a column reporting on horse races elsewhere in the state. What caught my eye, obviously, was the mention of Stanton.

I've never before seen a mention of a horse track in the area in the early 20th Century. I've also not yet found any more information about this, but from the listing of Stanton and the name Brown, I have to guess that this is connected to the Brown family highlighted in the post about The Farmhouse. *(See below) James Brown, the brother of John who lived in the Farmhouse property, owned the farm to the south, just below the B&O (now CSX) tracks. What I believe was his house is still standing, just off of one of the parking lots for Delaware Park.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

W. L. Edison at Greenbank

From The Sunday Star May 12, 1907
This is a bit of an odd post, only because I don't really have too much of substance say about it (although to be fair, that's never stopped me in the past). It's honestly not much more than somewhere between a padded-out blurb and a long, "Huh? How about that." It was something that caught my eye as I was looking for other things in the scanned copies of the Wilmington Sunday Morning Star that Google has online. I could get lost for hours just browsing through them. Come to think of it, I have.

What specifically caught my eye this time is the advertisement seen to the right. It appeared in the May 12, 1907 edition, and ran the following week as well. As you can see, it's an ad (almost a short article, really) for Premier* cars, one of the myriad of car manufacturers that popped up in the early days of the automobile, in what is now called the Brass Car Era. What initially jumped out at me and made me take notice of the ad was the address of Greenbank, Del. Since cars were still relatively new and expensive, most dealerships were in the city. Seeing one listed as Greenbank made me curious.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Country Roller Rink and Roller Polo

In the recent post about N. Dushane Cloward, it was noted that one of the business ventures he was associated with was the roller skating rink located next to Brandywine Springs Amusement Park. It was also mentioned that a fast-moving and briefly popular sport was played there, as well as at other rinks. I'm not sure quite why, but I thought I'd cover these topics here in their own post. Maybe it's because I don't get to do many sports-related posts, or maybe I just really miss hockey (NHL, not the KHL, OHL, or QMJHL stuff that's on now). In any case, the Country Roller Rink and roller polo do have their own stories, related to but separate from the amusement park.

The roller rink was built 1907 and was always part of the park, but not really. It was officially owned by the Springs Amusement Company, a new entity managed by several of the amusement park managers, including Dushane Cloward. They sold stock in their new company to raise capital to build the rink, and anyone who purchased ten dollars or more in stock was entitled to free admission to the rink for the first year. [See follow-up post for more information.] One of those passes (seen below) is on display at the Red Clay Valley Visitor's Center Museum at Greenbank. It's about 4 1/2 inches long and is signed by N. Dushane Cloward, President of the company.

Monday, December 3, 2012

N. Dushane Cloward

N. Dushane Cloward, 1899
There have been many people over the years who, while they may not have been born or raised in Mill Creek Hundred, have nonetheless made a significant contribution to some aspect of its history. One such person was N. Dushane Cloward.

It's easy to think of Brandywine Springs Amusement Park as consisting of no more than the rides, attractions, and buildings that once stood in the glen along Hyde Run. Of course, the park was much more than just its physical structures -- it was conceived, built, and operated by real people (a simple statement, I know, but one that often gets overlooked). Like any business today, it was populated by all kinds of people, some with simple stories, and some with more interesting backgrounds. One of the more interesting people involved with park was N. Dushane Cloward. Cloward was a musician, an artist, and a showman, and he was integral to the success of the amusement park.