Architectural Monographs: The Charms of Olde New Castle, Delaware

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In 1926, the authors of this issue of the White Pine Series of Architectural Monographs declared that New Castle, Delaware still exuded all of the character of the original community as it existed when it was first built. Anyone familiar with this charming colonial town would agree that the same is still true nearly a century later. Established in 1651, New Castle is a showcase of colonial, Dutch and Federal architecture inhabited by people living their daily lives just as residents of this town have for the past three hundred years.

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Far from the sort of Disney-fied colonial towns that have commodified their history with reenactments and actors in historic dress, New Castle is a vibrant yet relaxing place to live and visit, full of brick sidewalks, bed and breakfasts, taverns and townhouses dating back to the 18th century.

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Volume XII, Issue I looks at New Castle as it was in the 1920s, giving us a glimpse at its history and the role it has played in a number of important events, including the Revolutionary War. Take a virtual tour of the town’s most significant colonial architecture, including Amstel House, the Kensey Johns House and the Van Dyck House.

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“There is, moreover, another reason for the probable permanence of the town as it now stands, in that there is a real pride and understanding in the community of the architectural heritage represented by these buildings, an appreciation of tradition which is in restful contrast to the incessant changes which are sweeping away so much of our colonial background. New Castle is still the complete setting for the simple and genteel life which brought these eighteenth-century houses into existence.” Read more at the White Pine Monograph Library.

Architectural Monographs: Wooden Architecture of the Delaware Valley

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While most early settlers in New England stuck to the architectural typologies they were used to in their home country – ignoring abundant timber resources in Pennsylvania to build brick or rock houses, for example – one particular region stands out as a notable exception. In the Lower Delaware Valley, including Eastern Pennsylvania, West Jersey and Delaware, wooden architecture was quite common despite the tendency of settlers to follow their ancestral traditions.

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In other areas, builders went to great lengths to bake bricks or source stone, but the people of the Lower Delaware Valley realized the futility of this endeavor and decided to go with the obvious solution: build with the pine that thrives in the area.

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This issue of the historic White Pine Monographs takes a close look at those houses. One example is ‘The WIllows’ in New Jersey, near Gloucester, built around 1702 and believed to be one of the earliest wooden houses in the region with some additions that came in later years. Writes the author, “The structure is really a piece of cabinet work rather than a piece of carpentry, and is a monument to the skill of the joiner – the old term is peculiarly appropriate for the artisan in this instance – who framed it together.”

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Read more at the White Pine Monograph Library.