1911: Considering Expansion

For a number of years, the Society had known that its rented headquarters, the former First Presbyterian Church at 10th and Market streets, was too small and unsuitable for the storage and use of collections. Many of the Society’s important collections were stored in a vault at Wilmington Trust, which made them inaccessible to researchers.

In 1911, the Society considered expanding and refurbishing its quarters, hiring an architect to draw up plans and negotiating for a long-term lease. After several months of consideration, the members rejected the idea of expanding at the church and decided instead to pursue the erection of a new building—the first headquarters that the Society would own. The vision was to erect a building that would both house the Society and be a place that patriotic societies like the DAR, SAR, and so forth would also use—and contribute to the cost of building.

This led to a campaign to raise $75,000 for the project. The campaign got off to a good start, raising over $20,000 by December 1912. However, the project soon lost steam, because at that time the committee also recommended suspending the campaign until early 1913 in deference to Delaware Hospital’s fund-raising effort. By late 1914, the Society’s fund was up to $22,600 and a lot on Delaware Avenue next to the New Century Club had been purchased. After this, the effort petered out.

Although the plan to erect a building at this time did not work out, the decision not to refurbish and expand the First Presbyterian Church was a good one, for not many years later the church was moved to Brandywine Park to make way for the Wilmington Public Library.

A New Home for the Historical Society of Delaware
A New Building for the Historical Society of Delaware

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