Sean “Sinatra” Reilly’s Quaker Hill Home in Wilmington, Delaware
(page 1 of 4)
Sean Reilly’s house is like Sinatra, going from the height of fashion to rock bottom—and, then, making a storied comeback.
When Reilly, an entertainer known for his Frank Sinatra repertoire, moved into a Federal-style house on West Street in the Quaker Hill section of Wilmington in 1983, it already had been through significant ups and downs.
The original home was built in 1741 in Flemish-bond brick, a distinctive checkerboard of spanners and headers that was an outward display of the prosperity of the owner. But the house was burned out in the city’s race riots of 1968, destroyed but for its stout brick walls. “It had been gutted, totally, and rehabbed before we started renting it,” he recalls.
In the 1980s, Quaker Hill attracted urban pioneers intent on renovating old row houses. Reilly and his partner, Anthony Mombro, felt at home in a vibrant, inclusive community.
“It was the gay-borhood,” Reilly says.
When his grandmother came by for a visit and told about going to a wake in the house in 1914, Reilly felt he had come home. He rejoiced in worshipping at the nearby Cathedral of St. Peter, seat of the bishop of Wilmington, where his grandparents were married on Valentine’s Day in 1884.
“The history of this place calls out to me,” he says. “In my mind, I can hear the clop of horses’ hooves and the carriages going past.”
continues on page 2....