1966: Urban Renewal Offers an Opportunity

This year was one of renovations and changes for both the Society and Wilmington in general. The Society was deep into making plans for extensive, much-needed interior and exterior renovations to its Old Town Hall headquarters. Roof work had been completed the previous year and, at the April 12th Board of Director’s meeting, the Building Committee reported that a structural survey of the walls and interior had been completed and showed no major structural problems. At this same meeting, the Society voted to approve a proposal from Rupert Construction Company to go ahead with exterior repairs as recommended by a consulting architectural historian. By December, plans for interior work had necessitated a move into temporary quarters at 509 North Market Street.

At the same time, the City of Wilmington was also making plans for urban renewal projects that would change the face of the city and involve the demolition of various old buildings. In an effort to save some of them, the Society presented an extensively-researched proposal to the City Planner and Wilmington Housing Authority to have certain key examples of Colonial dwellings moved to the Society’s campus where they could be preserved. Potential candidates included the Thomas Coxe House and the Alrichs House. As the Executive Director reported at the Annual Dinner Meeting on November 15, 1966, “it is hoped that the publication of this study with the conclusions reached by both Societies may result in the preservation of some of these houses. At least it will provide a record for the future of some of these structures that were once part of the town of Wilmington.” Happily, these hopes would indeed bear fruit years later in 1976 when the Society was able to save some of these buildings to create the Willingtown Square campus currently on the 500 block of Market Street.

Coxe 1
The Thomas Coxe House at its original location at 107 & 109 East 6th Street in Wilmington (DHS photo collection)

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