Building for Posterity

Delaware is rich in striking buildings, and the architecture says much about the people who created them. Herein, a look at the state's most historically significant structures.



Delaware is rich in striking buildings, and the architecture says much about the people who created them. Some sites are significant because of design innovations, some for their novelty. This month, we look at buildings that are important for their historic value. What do these structures say about Delawareans of yore? They were pragmatic, yet still
interested in innovation. They liked to live comfortably and,

in some cases, were a bit star struck. Which means the

brick-and-mortar Federalist structures of yesterday are not unlike the glass-and-steel skyscrapers of today.

Take a look.

Ross Mansion

The brick Italian Villa-style mansion where “Southern sympathizer” Governor William Henry Harrison Ross hung his hat, sits on a 1,395-acre farm that also holds the dubious distinction of housing one of the state’s original slave quarters. “It’s kind of the only full-blown Italianate villa in the state,” says David Ames, director of the Center for Historic Architecture and Design at UD. “It’s got the tower and the arcades and all that good stuff.” That good stuff happens among three two-story blocks of the house, which together form an H-shaped plan, all completed by a three-story tower in the center. The principal façade displays gables over round windows. Prior to renovations, the house had a large veranda in the west arm, a canopy over the first floor windows and a balcony over the front door. Additions later created a concrete slab porch with iron railing. Inside, the house retains its exquisite plaster moldings, its Victorian trim and original inside shutters. This all came together in 1859, when Ross himself allegedly constructed this elaborate villa along the newly constructed railroad he helped to establish. With mass quantities of farmland and a mass transit system in place, farmers prospered all over western Sussex, Ross included.

Old Library Museum

Famed Philadelphia architect Frank Furness was a hot commodity in the 1890s. Having just completed the University of Pennsylvania library, his firm was the natural choice to design one for the town of New Castle. Scholars have for years debated whether the library was designed by Furness himself or by a member of his firm, William M. Camac. Either way, the finished product is a striking hexagonal structure that cleverly integrates Queen Anne style and glazed-header-brick Colonial Revival, says renowned architectural historian and author Barksdale Maynard. An oversized fanlight and weather vane makes a witty tribute to Federal-era features that exemplify the rest of historic New Castle, as do an exceedingly tall roof and cupola. Natural light floods through strategically placed skylights. That light also shines through to the basement thanks to glass panels in the floor. When construction of the $5,500 facility got underway in 1890, local contractors erected a high fence to keep the public in the dark about the new library, Maynard says. When the fence came down, locals raved about its metropolitan style, colored mortar and pressed brick. The building eventually became a museum. Paint analysis done in 1982 helped restore the brilliant, original Victorian color scheme.

Weston Peach House

Peaches are almost universally associated with Georgia, and for good reason. But in the mid- to late-19th century, Delaware was one of the biggest producers in the world, shipping nearly 6 million bushels to market in 1875. At the time, towns across Delaware were dotted with plantations and their distinctive peach houses. A few still stand along U.S. 50 near Middletown. “They’re sort of two-and-a-half-story houses and very distinct,” says UD’s Jeroen van den Hurk. The dwelling pictured is one of the state’s finest examples of Italianate architecture, which is characterized by its flat roof and staggered eaves. The house was built in two phases: the first in 1810 as a brick farmhouse, then again in 1860, when a grand-room section with 12-foot ceilings was added, paid for largely by peach profits. “It’s very original,” says Jim Robb, who lives in the house known as Weston. “It’s a huge Georgian-style mansion with four pillars in the front. Everybody who walks in here just drops their jaw.”

 

Cherbourg Round Barn

At quick glance, the Cherbourg barn, just outside Dover, might come off as a kitschy landmark, maybe a tourist attraction. But the round barn is much more. At six stories, it’s one of the tallest buildings in the area and one of the most novel structures in Delaware farming history, as inventive as it is eye-catching. The circular floor plan maximized the ground floor space and made routine daily chores and cleaning easier. High ceilings and a two-pitched roof also made for maximum hay capacity. “They’ve been building round barns since the 18th century and even earlier,” says Jeroen van den Hurk at the University of Delaware’s Center for Historic Architecture and Design. “There are a lot of surveillance issues with round structure; the farmer could stand in the middle and watch all his cattle.” The construction of the round barn in 1918 was a wildly ambitious project that went against commonly accepted concepts of agricultural architecture to use both new materials and a new design. The Cherbourg stands out mostly due to its poured concrete walls and unorthodox support system. The massive roof was supported only by a straightforward system of rafters and plates without interior cross braces or collars. The roof collapsed during a storm in 1999.

 

The Second Homestead

When it came time for Arden founder Frank Stephens to build himself a second home in 1909, the sculptor reached to Old-English design for inspiration. The result was a twin-gabled cottage with hollow tile construction and some amazingly unique woodwork courtesy of Frank himself, as well as his son John. The exterior is half-timbered, with leaded windows and the phrase “Tomorrow is a New Day” famously carved on a fascia. The house has been occupied since 1993 by Mary Marconi, who found herself in the beautifully historic home “purely by luck,” she says. “I was looking for a place, and it looked like this Hansel and Gretel cottage.” The house is built in Tudor-style, which is made clear by the lavish timber frame construction, stone and stucco. The house is the jewel among several in Arden built in the same style around the turn of the century, which should come as no surprise for a town founded by a sculptor and his architect buddy.

More History

Old Dutch House The shocking truth about New Castle’s famous Dutch House: It isn’t Dutch. Yes, the house is unquestionably one of the oldest among the original 13 colonies, built somewhere between 1690 and 1710. And yes, it has features that have been definitively labeled Dutch through the years, such as the very overhang of the front eave and the distinctive H-frame series of bents. But according to van den Hurk, a native of the Netherlands who wrote his dissertation at UD about the house, it is nothing like 18th-century structures in his native country. Instead, the house is a clear representation of transition in America: the Melting Pot theory in building form. To explain, the Old Dutch House is unique in its variation of a bent frame, but the finished product doesn’t look altogether Dutch or Netherlandic. “If you look at the history of this area, which was part of New Netherlands, you had so many different cultural backgrounds melding together—Swedes, Fins, Dutch—all in this area,” van den Hurk says. “They worked together on their buildings, and they created a fairly unique framing system that uses bits and pieces from other cultures.” So there are elements of the English box frame, as well as the Dutch bent frame. “You can’t say it’s 100 percent Dutch or 100 percent English,” he says. “You can think of it as an early type of American framing.” When van den Hurk came to Delaware in 1995, people would point out the Dutch House to him, but he was struck by how un-Dutch it was. “It didn’t look anything like it” he says with a laugh. “So it’s unique in a sense that it represents a culmination of different cultural backgrounds and framing techniques coming together. It can tell you a lot about the people that settled here and their traditions.”

Corbit-Sharp House No doubt Delaware has many ties to Philadelphia, but one of the strongest and most historically significant bonds belongs to Odessa. The port town shared a sort of cultural and social exchange with the City of Brotherly Love during Colonial times, and the clearest evidence can be found at the Corbit-Sharp House, a 22-room mansion that cribbed some of Philly’s best laid Georgian architecture. Designed in 1774 by Robert May and built by William Corbit, the house is a pristine example of a Philadelphia townhouse. “It’s one of the finest in the original 13 colonies,” says Deborah Buckson, executive director of the Historic Odessa Foundation. Georgian architecture is usually defined by strict adherence to balance and symmetry, and the Philadelphia style indicates a square plan with rooms that branch off the central staircase. Same goes for keystone pediments over the windows, foliated dormers, a brick watertable and original Chinese lattice railings. Nearby Georgian houses in the Delaware style take on an L-shaped form. The five-bay house (the front door flanked by two windows on each side) also features an immaculate second-floor ballroom, described in the 1970 book “Treasured Rooms in America’s Mansions, Manors and Houses,” as one of the 10 most beautiful rooms in America.

Appoquinimink Friends Meeting House This Quaker meeting house in Odessa is important for two reasons. The first, a decidedly sedate reason, is the building’s noted history as a stop on the Underground Railroad. Runaway slaves allegedly would hide in the building’s loft on their way north. The second, a more snicker-worthy reason for notoriety, is the meeting house’s Lilliputian size: just 20 feet by 20 feet. It is believed to be one of the smallest public places of worship in the country. Built around 1785 by David Wilson and donated to the Quaker congregation, this toylike brick structure was frequented by many famous families, such as the Corbits and Wilsons. Many are buried in its graveyard. The Quaker congregation turned Hicksite in 1828, Maynard says, so by the time the place closed around 1880, there were only two members remaining. Luckily, the tiny building was restored in 1938. Public worship resumed there in 1946.

Eden Hill Farm House Here, one of Delaware’s most prominent early families began an architectural legacy just west of Legislative Hall in Dover. In 1748 Nicholas Greenberry Ridgely bought 230 acres of land where he built a white brick mansion for himself and his third wife, Mary Middleton Vining Ridgely. The original house was a fairly simple design, just one-room deep with a floor plan that included a common room, a parlor and a service wing. The home’s most important message is how each of seven generations of Ridgelys left a unique fingerprint on Eden Hill Farm by making unique alterations over 250 years. “It monumentalizes family,” says Bernie Herman, a professor of art history at the University of Delaware. “Each generation made changes to express who they are, all the while working within the confines of that particular site.” The first building was an impressive monument. Family members kept the original brick skin, doubled the home’s depth and changed the interior arrangement of rooms to reflect a new sensibility. Three major alterations were made before 1870, including the addition of a broad formal entry with two rooms on one side, and a service wing on the other. “When you’re looking at historic buildings, things are not always what they seem,” says Herman. “Every historic structure is an archeological site.”

D

 

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January 2017

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

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Sports Card & Collectible Show at Aetna Fire Hall on Jan. 22—sign up now! -Sports Cards McFarlane Figures Comic Books Non-Sports cards Wrestling Items Vintage Starting...

Cost: $2

Where:
Aetna Fire Hall
400 Ogletown Road
Newark, DE  19711
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Sponsor: A2Z Promotions
Telephone: 302-983-2636
Contact Name: Bob Harper
Website »

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The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
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Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

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Belly Dance Classes with Zahra Beginner & intermediate classes open to teens and adults Sundays in January starting Jan 8th Beginner: 2:30-3:30 p.m. Intermediate: 1 - 2 p.m (must get...

Cost: $15-$42

Where:
Take the Lead Studio
320 Lantana Drive
Hockessin , DE  19711
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Sponsor: Take the Lead
Contact Name: Zahra
Website »

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The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
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Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

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Ah, typecasting—the baritone is always the bad guy! In Devils, Drunks & Dastardly Dudes, we’ll go on an operatic journey of men behaving badly. We’ll add a tenor to the mix, too… but we...

Cost: $29-$59

Where:
OperaDelaware Studio
4 South Poplar St.
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Sponsor: OperaDelaware
Telephone: 302-442-7809
Contact Name: Mary Wilcosky
Website »

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Come give curling a try! At this 2-hour intro-to-curling event we'll provide a basic lesson then coach you through a mini-game.  Whether you just want to cross #curling off your bucket list or...

Cost: $35

Where:
The Pond Ice Arena
101 John Campbell Rd
Newark, DE  19711
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Sponsor: Diamond State Curling Club
Website »

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January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

Notbybreadalone Ministries presents Feeding the Hungry Outreach. All are welcome to come and partake of food, fun and fellowship. Those who desire a better way of life through Jesus Christ are...

Cost: Free

Where:
2nd and 3rd Streets
Wilmington, DE  19801


Sponsor: Notbybreadalone Outreach Ministries
Telephone: 442-0440
Contact Name: Ministers Wayne and Stephanie Dumpson
Website »

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Guest speakers Patty Dailey-Lewis, executive director of the Beau Biden Foundation, and Delaware Family Court commissioner Loretta Young will discuss how participation in social media can too...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilmington University - Dover
Building A Auditorium
3282 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
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Sponsor: Wilmington University College of Social & Behavioral Sciences
Telephone: 302-295-1164
Contact Name: Dr. Johanna Bishop
Website »

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January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30AM-12:00PM Fall session: Thursday, Dec 1st thru Thursday, December 15th Winter session: Tuesday, January 17th thru Thursday, March 30th   Drop in on Nature is...

Cost: see description

Where:
The Annex
501 Chandler Mill Rd
Kennett Square, PA  19348
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Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
Website »

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East Coast Garden Center Indoor Farmers Market Nov 8, 2016 - April 11, 2017  11 am- 2 pm 25 vendors Location:  East Coast Garden Center 30366 Cordrey Rd Millsboro, DE 19966 302-945-3489

Cost: frr

Where:
East Coast Garden Center
30366 Cordrey Rd
Millsboro, DE  19966
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Sponsor: East Coast Garden Center
Telephone: 302-945-3489
Website »

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East Coast Garden Center Indoor Farmer's Marke 25 vendors

Cost: Free

Where:
East Coast Garden Center
30366 Cordrey Rd
Millsboro, DE  19966
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Telephone: 302-945-3489
Website »

More information

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

A four-week series of ballroom dancing classes taught by teachers from the BlueBallroom. Tuesdays starting Jan. 10. Classes are $30 a lesson for Non-Members. Non-Member slots are limited. For...

Cost: $30

Where:
University and Whist Club
805 N Broom St
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »

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January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30AM-12:00PM Fall session: Thursday, Dec 1st thru Thursday, December 15th Winter session: Tuesday, January 17th thru Thursday, March 30th   Drop in on Nature is...

Cost: see description

Where:
The Annex
501 Chandler Mill Rd
Kennett Square, PA  19348
View map »


Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
Website »

More information

Thursdays from 4:00PM-5:30PM Fall session: December 1st, 8th and 15th Winter session: Starts January 19th, every other Thursday until March 30th This program is based entirely outdoors and is...

Cost: Cost: $30 for TLC members / $40 for non-members

Where:
Bucktoe Creek Preserve
432 Sharp Rd
Avondale, PA  19311
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Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
Website »

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MARC BROUSSARD In 2004, Marc Broussard, then a precocious 22-year-old singer/songwriter, released his major-label debut; he called it Carencro, after the Louisiana town where he was born and...

Cost: $22 SRO- $32 SEATED

Where:
World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 215-222-1400
Contact Name: MP Intern
Website »

More information

The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Tutto Fresco has live entertainment every Friday night from 6:30–9:30 p.m. Call for details. http://tuttofrescode.com/

Where:
Tutto Fresco
514 Philadelphia Pike
Wilmington, DE  19809
View map »

More information

The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

Meeting every Friday, Bayhealth Kent General Hospital, 640 s. State Street, Dover, 7:30 pm., Private Dining Room #3 in the basement. For those who have, or think they may have a gambling problem....

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Bayhealth Kent General Hospital
640 S. State Street
Private Dining Room #3
Dover, DE  19901
View map »


Telephone: 800-855-2CALLGA
Website »

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Cost: $12-$20

Where:
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd.
Wilmington, DE  19802
View map »


Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-3396
Contact Name: Kathy Buterbaugh
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

January 28 – Saturday – 1 to 4 p.m. Science Saturday – Truss Me, You Won’t Fall! Become an engineer for the day. Design a bridge to hold as much weight as possible....

Cost: Activities are included in regular admission and free for members.

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Sponsor: Hagley Museum
Telephone: (302) 65802400 x 238
Contact Name: Jessica Eisenbrey
Website »

More information

The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

GRILLED CHEESE AND CRAFT BEER TASTING We have taken two of the best things on earth and paired them together – Grilled Cheese and Craft Beer – and paired them together in unexpected and...

Cost: $40

Where:
World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 215-222-1400
Contact Name: MP Intern
Website »

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Saturday, January 28, 2017 at  7:30 pm at St. David’s Episcopal Church, 763 Valley Forge Rd, Wayne, PA 19087 Sunday, January 29, 2017 at 3 pm at Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square...

Cost: Tickets are $25 online, and $30 at the door. Student tickets $10 at the door.

Where:
Church of the Holy Trinity
1904 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA  19103
View map »


Sponsor: Lyric Fest
Telephone: 215-438-1702
Contact Name: Jessica Nelson
Website »

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Fan favorite, Dick Smith, returns to the Dickinson Theatre Organ Society concert stage on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 for a show that is sure to bring the house down! Dick Smith has been a...

Cost: $15 Adults; $10 Students

Where:
John Dickinson High School Auditorium
1801 Milltown Road
Wilmington, DE  19808
View map »


Sponsor: Dickinson Theatre Organ Society
Telephone: 302-995-2603
Contact Name: Bob Dilworth
Website »

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The Dickinson Theatre Organ Society presents Dick Smith. For tickets, click here: http://www.dtoskimball.org/events-tickets/ticket-information/ For further information, please call us at...

Where:
, DE

More information

The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

Cost: $12-$20

Where:
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd.
Wilmington, DE  19802
View map »


Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-3396
Contact Name: Kathy Buterbaugh
Website »

More information

MOTHERSHIP Mothership is the area's premier Led Zeppelin Tribute show. Composed of seasoned, professional musicians Mario Padovani - vocals, keyboards, Frank Ginocchio - drums, Chris Julian -...

Cost: 15

Where:
World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 215-222-1400
Website »

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