In the early 1700s a small English, Scots-Irish and Welsh hamlet emerged along the fall line where the Christina and White Clay Creeks turn sharply eastward toward the Delaware River. In time, the area began to serve travelers on route from the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia and Maryland and colonial Philadelphia. The streams flowed with enough energy to power the grist and sawmills that soon dotted their banks. Rich soil meant wheat, corn and vegetables were plentiful, and the available ore from nearby Iron Hill fed the forges of a small country iron works. Soon a tannery and brickyard were added to the village. By 1758, the bustling local market and country crossroads received recognition in the form of a Charter from King George II, and Newark was officially born.
In 1765, a small preparatory and grammar school moved to town from New London, Pennsylvania. The school, renamed the Newark Academy, attracted little flourished during the years prior to the American Revolution -- Newark was described at the time as “suitable and healthy village, not too rich or luxurious, where real learning might be obtained.” During the war, however, the Academy was closed and its funds seized by the British.
Following the Revolution, the Academy reopened to little fanfare. Similarly the town grew slowly. In 1833, the State of Delaware -- recognizing the need for local higher education -- granted a charter to a new institution in the town, Newark College, later renamed Delaware College. Still the school generated barely a ripple in the local economy; by 1900 it still had only a couple hundred students and operated completely on a small parcel of land on Main Street. The railroad arrived in 1837 but the first bank did not organize until 1855. Industrial concerns like the Curtis Paper Company, reestablished in 1848 from the older Meteer Paper Company, Continental Fiber (1896) and National Vulcanized Fibre (1924) helped diversify the local economy.
In 1921 the University of Delaware was formally organized and began to expand rapidly. Major corporations like DuPont and Chrylser arrived after World War II and Newark blossomed, doubling in size. While other growth slowed down, the University never did, becoming a juggernaut by 2000 that has overwhelmed the City.
Our walking tour will begin, appropriately, at the first building of the University of Delaware and, in many ways still the most impressive, Old College...
northeast corner of North College Avenue and East Main Street
The University of Delaware evolved from a boys’ school started by religious leader Francis Alison in New London, Pennsylvania in 1743. When it relocated to Newark and became the Newark Academy the ambitious trustees set out to establish Delaware’s first degree-conferring college. The raised money through a statewide lottery and even hired America’s most eminent architect, Charles Bulfinch of Boston to design a building in the 1820s. For reasons unknown Bulfinch’s design was never executed and another Bostonian, Winslow Lewis, who was mostly known for creating lighthouses, came down to supervise the Newark College building, destined to be Delaware’s first classically-flavored Greek Revival structure. It was known as “Old College” and was the school’s only facility for more than 50 years. Classes were held here, faculty and students lived and ate here, there were recitation rooms and also a library. The school’s crown jewel was tinkered with through the years and a double row of European linden trees added to the approach walk. Today Old College does duty as the University’s art museum.
Agricultural Experiment Station
east of Old College
School buildings began to fill in around Old College in the late 1880s. This one was fueled by federal money for agricultural research and built on plans drawn by Lewis Springer, an architect of modest accomplishments. The chemists got the laboratories on the ground floor and other agricultural scientists worked upstairs.
east of Old College at Main Street
Despite the ambitions of the early 1800s the success of Delaware College was never a given. In fact, the school was shuttered in 1859 due to a lack of money. Students were not re-admitted until 1870 when land-grant funds were made available from the federal government through the Morrill Act. Those monies did not help with buildings, however, and it would be another two decades before the school could raise a suitable venue for commencement exercises, live performances and social events. Recitation Hall was the creation of Furness, Evans Company, an esteemed Victorian architecture firm from Philadelphia.
TURN LEFT AND WALK EAST ON MAIN STREET.
26 East Main Street
This historic structure was one of the first four buildings erected in the town, doing duty across more than two centuries as a residence, an academic building, a drugstore, Red
Cross headquarters and Newark’s post office. Hugh Glassford, a shoemaker or “cordwainer” as the trade was known in Colonial times, is given credit for its construction. Glassford acquired the land during a sheriff’s sale in 1762 and tax records show a house here by 1765.
24 East Main Street
Joseph Chamberlain, a town doctor, constructed this brick house in the first decade of the 1800s, roomy enough for his eight children. The University of Delaware acquired the property in 1910 andit became the school’s most versatile facility. Over the years it did time as a fraternity house, YMCA, library, local draft board headquarters during World War I, and later a hospital during the great influenza epidemic of 1918. From 1918 until 1940, the departments of English and History were quartered here. For many decades until 2007 the school even used the hallmark Federal-style fanlight over the entrance door as its logo. Alumni Hall is one of 17 campus buildings residing on the National Register of Historic Places.
CROSS THE STREET AND STAND AT THE HEAD OF THE GREEN BEFORE CONTINUING DOWN MAIN STREET.
University of Delaware, East Main Street
The Women’s College of Delaware began educating students in 1915. At the time Delaware College, exclusively male, was operating a half-mile away. Hugh Rodney Sharp was the first to imagine the two joined as the state university and he happened to be married to the sister of the state’s wealthiest and most influential man, Pierre S. du Pont. He persuaded du Pont to purchase the “no-man’s land” between the schools and employed Frank Miles Day and Charles Z. Klauder to design a plan for the integrated campus. Their vision, flush with balance and symmetry, is what is seen down the Green today. The first of the Colonial Revival dormitories lined up down the Green is Harter Hall, the first building on the left, with a Dutch-inspired gambrel roof. It was constructed in 1916 with rooms for about 100 students - about half the Delaware College enrollment at the time.
36 East Main Street
This was a traditional site in town for apothecaries and drugstores. George W. Rhodes took over operation of Eben Frazer’s drugstore in 1911. He dressed his store with a Venetian Gothic facade, including concrete gargoyles, in 1917. As the first building greeting students coming in to town, Rhodes served as the college bookstore for many years.
54-58 East Main Street
Rainbow Records has been serving Delaware students’ musical needs since 1977 when cassette tapes were still in the wooden display boxes; the store has been in this location since the mid-1980s.
National 5 & 10
66-68 East Main Street
Louis Handloff Outfitters opened for business in 1911 and remains in the Handloff family four generations later. In 1931, with the completion of construction in the current location, the business was incorporated as National 5 & 10.
Newark United Methodist Church
69 East Main Street
When it began in 1799 the congregation was referred to as “Meteer’s Meeting” since it assembled in either Thomas Meteer’s house or at the paper mill he operated beside White Clay Creek. In 1812 the society moved into its first building, Tyson’s Chapel, located on what is now called Chapel Street. By 1845 the church needed a new building and wanted to move onto Main Street, but the town was against it, saying that “the noisy Methodists had no right to disturb the peace and quiet of the citizens by holding their boisterous meetings on the main street.” The growing congregation bought a lot on Main Street in 1851, from an out-of-town owner unaware that no one in Newark would sell the Methodists land. The sale took place at midnight, and building began the next morning, “to the utter surprise and consternation of our enemies.” The congregation persisted on Main Street, rebuilding after a fire in 1861, and remain today.
82 East Main Street
The Neoclassical centerpiece at the heart of Main Street, fronted by imposing Corinthian columns, opened in 1926 as the the home of the Farmers’ Trust Company. Farmers’ Trust had been in business since 1865 before being absorbed by the now-defunct Wilmington Trust in 1952.
96 East Main Street
This 1882 house acquired the nickname “Green Mansion” when its brick facade was covered with greenish serpentine limestone mined in southern Chester County. While distinctive, serpentine is not the most durable of building materials which is why it is rarely seen today.
TURN RIGHT ON ACADEMY STREET.
Aetna Hose, Hook and Ladder Company Fire Station No. 2
26 Academy Street
The Aetna Hose, Hook and Ladder Company organized on December 17, 1888 to battle fires with apparatus pulled by man and beast. This is the second firehouse for the company on Academy Street, erected in 1922 on land given from the adjacent Newark Academy. Clarence Hope of Wilmington was given the contract to layout the new building which came with a price tag of $22,324.00.
RETURN TO MAIN STREET AND TURN RIGHT.
southeast corner of East Main Street and Academy Street
This was traditionally Newark’s marketplace in Colonial time and a two-story stone schoolhouse once stood here. In 1841 it became the home of Newark Academy that was in the process of becoming Delaware College. The Academy did not go away, however, and when the college shut down in 1859 the Academy once again became an independent institution. The school would not disappear entirely until 1898. After service as Newark High School and Newark Library, today the original Academy building is once again occupied by its founding institution, now the University of Delaware.
Newark Post Office
northwest corner of East Main Street and Center Street
The first postal service in Newark arrived in 1808, with Alexander McBeath operating as postmaster out of his home. Residents picked up their mail from various residences and stores for more than a century afterwards. In the 10th century the federal government set out to provide towns with an architecturally significant structure and gave Newark this Neoclassical post office in 1929.
137 East Main Street
This iconic diner, manufactured by Jerry O’Mahony Inc. of Elizabeth, New Jersey, has been know through the years as Jude’s Diner, Newark Diner and Jimmy’s Diner.
145 East Main Street
The Post House has been serving hot cinnamon buns since 1957, making it one of the few businesses on Main Street to have operated for over a half-century.
158 East Main Street
Klondike Kate’s is one of the oldest business locations on Newark’s Main Street. The establishment was called “Three Hearts Tavern” on a map from 1757. In 1797 it became “Hossinger’s Tavern.” The present building with a then-fashionable mansard roof slathered in patterned tiles was erected in 1880. Through the years it has functioned as a furniture store, offices of the Newark Post, a grange hall, a roller skating rink and a courtroom. The jail cells from its legal days are still in the basement.
St. John The Baptist Church
northeast corner of Chapel Street and Main Street
This was the Old Village Presbyterian Church in its original incarnation and was vacated in 1868. Charles A. Murphey bought the meetinghouse and gave it to the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington. A fire on Christmas morning 1880 left Newark’s Catholics without a house of worship. When a new building rose here it was called St. John The Baptist, in honor of the patron saint of one of the church’s benefactors, Father John A. Lyons. The rose window is a creation by Paula Himmelsbach Balano in the 1940s and the belfry was reconfigured after a lightning strike in 1953.
253 East Main Street
Russell and Selena Bing became proprietors of Fader’s Bakery at 57 East Main Street in 1946. In 1955, Bing’s moved to this location where Selena Bing would manage the shop for 50 years before selling the business to her head baker.
RETRACE YOUR STEPS TO CHAPEL STREET AND TURN LEFT. TURN RIGHT ON DELAWARE AVENUE. CROSS ACADEMY STREET AND TURN LEFT ONTO THE GREEN OF THE UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE.
east side of Green at Delaware Avenue
The master plan laid out be campus architecture specialists Frank Miles Day and Charles Z. Klauder started to be executed in 1917 with Wolf Hall. It carries the name of Theodore R. Wolf who arrived In Newark from Heidelberg, Germany in 1871 when he was only 21 years old to teach chemistry. Despite his precocious age Wolf was the only faculty member of Delaware College to possess any university training. He would later be named Delaware State Chemist. The school’s original chemistry building was designed to resemble an English country house; look up to see classically-inspired swags and architectural ornamentation.
Du Pont Hall
east side of the Green, south of Wolf Hall
In 2003, 88 years after it began, the Green of the University of Delaware was officially completed with the christening of DuPont Hall. It was designed by Allan Greenberg of Washington, D.C., a modern-day cheerleader for classical revival architecture.
CROSS THE GREEN TO THE WEST SIDE.
west side of the Green
Gore Hall is another creation of Allan Greenberg, built in 1998 to fit inconspicuously with its ancestral neighbors on the Green. The centerpiece Doric columns are fashioned of concrete and manufactured in Louisiana. Each elephantine column weighs twelve tons and stands 31 feet tall. Wilbert (Bill) Lee Gore was a DuPont Company veteran who left in 1958 to start his own manufacturing business with his wife Genevieve using flouropolymers that soon came to be known for its waterproof fabrics. The Gore family picked up the entire $17.5 million tab for Gore Hall, one of the largest private benefactions ever sent to the University of Delaware.
west side of the Green, south of Gore Hall
Charles Klauder contributed the classical design for the school’s go-to concert hall using money donated by Rodney Sharp. It took the name of Samuel Chiles Mitchell, a one-time University president.
center of the Green
The centerpiece structure of the Green is Memorial Hall that was constructed as a library in 1925. It was the first building erected to serve students of both Delaware College and the Women’s College and the entrances on each side were composed accordingly. School President Samuel Mitchell saw the library as a tribute to Delawareans who had served in the First World War with names of servicemen placed in positions of honor around the library.
WALK AROUND EITHER SIDE OF MEMORIAL HALL TO CONTINUE TOURING DOWN THE GREEN.
west side of the Green on Market Street
When the du Pont family needed landscape design in the early 1900s they turned to Marian Cruger Coffin, an early woman in the profession. With so much du Pont family money being used to sculpt the University of Delaware campus Coffin was the natural choice to execute the grand plan initiated for the Green by Day and Klauder. Magnolia Circle came along in 1935 and the hardscaping has recently been given an historically authentic facelift.
east side of the Green
Charles Klauder designed these dormitories with a ladies’ sensibilities in mind; he left room for Marian Cruger Coffin to design gardens that the college men never got in their quarters. Sussex was the first to be built in 1916. Kent Dining Hall was constructed in 1926; it picked up its oft-photographed double stairway to its entrance in 1956.
west side of Green at south end
Delaware College took a brief stab at educating women after it was resurrected in the early 1870s but the school was male-only again by 1885. The Women’s College was started in 1914 under the auspices of Delaware College but it boasted its own dean, faculty and campus. Teh first two buildings on the campus were designed by New Castle architect Lausatt Rogers and called Residence Hall and Science Hall. Residence Hall has since been named after Emalea Pusey Warner, who was an early champion of the creation of Women’s College and Science Hall became Robinson Hall in remembrance of Winifred J. Robinson, dean of the Women’s College from 1914 to 1938.
CROSS OVER TO ACADEMY STREET.
corner of Academy Street and Park Place
This was the women’s gymnasium when it was constructed in 1931 from plans drawn by New Castle architect Louis Jellade. It carries the name of Beatrice Hartshorn who was the director of women’s physical education from 1925 until 1962. Ironically Hartshorn believed that women were not suited for college sports and Delaware women were kept from competing in intercollegiate competition. Instead the gym hosted intramural games and classes for aspiring teachers in Elementary Education to learn sports and games to teach to children.
CONTINUE WALKING SOUTH ON ACADEMY STREET. AT THE END WALK WEST TOWARDS SOUTH COLLEGE AVENUE.
Newark Train Station
166 East Second Street
The first trains rolled into Newark in the 1830s on the recently assembled Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad. This Victorian-era depot, constructed of granite, brick and sandstone, came online in 1877. The last passengers boarded in 1981 but Amtrak reintroduced service to Newark on its high-speed commuter trains. The passenger station became the home of the Newark Historical Society.
WALK NORTH ON SOUTH COLLEGE AVENUE, AWAY FROM THE RAILROAD TRACKS.
Press of Kells
318 South College Avenue
Everett C. Johnson, who was to evolve into a reform-minded publisher and Delaware Secretary of State, founded the Newark Post in January 1910. When the expanding Delaware College gobbled up his Main Street digs he moved here in 1916, creating an English castle-like printing plant he named after the famous medieval manuscript, the Book of Kells. Johnson was dubbed “The Conscience of Delaware” for his socially observant editorials before dying prematurely in 1926. The Press of Kells was sold in 1935 and the original building gradually disappeared during its duty as apartments and a branch of the YMCA.
TURN LEFT ON KENT WAY.
Blue and Gold Club
48 Kent Way
Marian and Ernest Brinton Wright built this expansive Colonial Revival house in 1926. When Marian passed away in 1966 the property was donated to the University of Delaware and used as the Blue and Gold Club from 1971 until 2009, dishing out fine meals to faculty, alumni and students.
47 Kent Way
Across the street another Colonial Revival residence from the 1920s was given to the University by Caleb Wright and it has been converted into the home for the University of Delaware President.
TURN RIGHT ON ORCHARD ROAD. TURN LEFT ON WEST DELAWARE AVENUE. TURN RIGHT ON ELKTON ROAD.
Deer Park Tavern
108 West Main Street
The St. Patrick Inn, a log structure, operated here as early as 1747. Over the next 100 years it hosted numerable famous travelers including surveyors Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon as they were staking out the disputed boundary between Pennsylvania and Delaware that would evolve into the delineation between North and South in America; Edgar Allen Poe who may have put a curse on the building after a fall in the muddy street outside; and, perhaps, George Washington who hung his hat in many similar taverns. In 1848, James S. Martin bought a large chunk of Newark - 243 acres of land for $16,000 that he called Deer Park Farm. Included on his new property was the burned-down remains of St. Patrick’s Inn. Martin had the rubble cleared and brought in the architect of his farmhouse to build a four-story brick hotel he also called Deer Park. The original structure contained only 12 rooms for hire on the upper levels. Patrons could enjoy a bar, a reading room and a dining room on the ground floor. The venerable Deer Park has been tweaked with additions and subtractions through the ages but it trundles on as Newark’s most famous institution.
TURN RIGHT ON WEST MAIN STREET.
First Presbyterian Church /Daugherty Hall
West Main Street, south side, east of parking garage
Thomas Dixon and Frank E. Davis came up from Baltimore to create First Presbyterian Church in 1868. A century later the congregation moved out of town and its building, minus the landmark 100-foot steeple, became a university student center. In 1994 Daugherty Hall was replaced by the Trabant University Center and most of it were demolished. Some stone walls, however, were considered structurally sound enough to be incorporated into the new building.
Trabant University Center
17 West Main Street
The world famous architecture shop of Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates won the commission for the University’s new student center in 1992 during the administration of E.A. Trabant. The designers faced the challenge of adhering to the Colonially-inspired architecture in their midst while creating a building for students to use, not admire in brochures. The result is a confection with an abundance of red brick on the outside and neon lights inside.
YOU HAVE NOW RETURNED TO THE TOUR STARTING POINT AT THE CORNER OF COLLEGE AVENUE AND MAIN STREET.