In Milton, a 19th-Century Treasure

Roi Barnard bought the R.L. Lacy House—which was built by a stately ship captain in 1820—almost 30 years ago. Since, he's preserved many of the home's existing bones but also added several elegant and eclectic touches.


Published:

Photos by John Lewes

In the master bedroom, a stenciled border of swags, birds and berries dates back more than 50 years.

In 1988, Roi Barnard was searching for a getaway from life in Washington, D.C. He started in Lewes, the historic village that was on its way to becoming a trendy arts and beach community, but prices were already outpacing his aspirations.

“I was looking at spending at least $200,000 for a place in Lewes—a ton of money back then—and I didn’t want to spend that much,” he says. “Then someone asked, ‘Have you ever been to Milton?’”

Settled by English colonists in 1672, the community on the Broadkill River was originally known as Head of the Broadkiln. In 1807, the town became Milton, named for the English poet John Milton.

For Barnard, the location was paradise found. He was smitten by the town’s largely unaltered examples of period architecture, from fanciful Victorian houses to inviting Arts and Crafts bungalows. He enjoyed the friendly locals, as well as the proximity to beach life.

He and a partner paid $68,000 for a Federal-style house and two lots. It was the first of five properties he would buy over the years in Milton and by far the most expensive.

“I just fell in love with the town,” he says. “It’s blossomed into a long-term relationship."

Historic homes

Facade of the R.L. Lacy House 

The R.L. Lacy House was built by a prosperous sea captain in 1820, when Milton boasted a bustling shipbuilding industry and seven granaries. It is one of nearly 200 sites in the town that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Its attributes include an expansive, three-bay front porch, six-over-six double-hung windows and a distinctive red standing-seam pulled-metal roof.

“The sound of rain on the roof is magical,” he says.

Barnard, who has devoted most of his professional life to running a beauty salon, set about prettying up the property with such additions as a white picket fence.

“This is probably the only home you will ever see that has a chandelier in the garage,” he says.

He took a hatchet to a ceiling that had been added over the summer kitchen on the back of the house, curious as to what might be above. He was delighted to uncover distinctive beams and trusses bearing centuries-old adze marks and peg joinery.

“It’s almost Elizabethan, with all the beautiful timbers,” he says. “They are way too lovely to cover up.”

The summer kitchen is now a spacious guest room with a private entry, “so people who come to visit us have a place of their own.”

Shipbuilding techniques

When he bought the house nearly 30 years ago, Barnard was impressed by such features as the stately central staircase, ornate plaster medallion in the foyer and elegantly reeded mantel on the parlor fireplace. There’s also a fireplace in the formal dining room, which mirrors the parlor on the opposite side of the house.

“I could see that the bones were there,” he says.

A stately fireplace in the dining room lends a formal feel that is perfect for the decor.

The house also has remarkably abundant and sophisticated closets for its age. Barnard opens a dining room cupboard equipped with more doors to additional storage space.

“There are closets inside of closets,” he says. “Shipbuilders take advantage of every little bit of space.”

From the beginning, he has furnished the house with old pieces he bought at estate sales, secondhand stores and antiques shops. He found a few choice pieces on trash day, including the horseshoe-shaped desk in the study.

“I would get up on my bike and ride around at 5:30 in the morning to see what people had put out on the curb,” he says. “If I found a treasure, I would go back with a truck and pick it up.”

Barnard has long collected the works of noted artist A. Brockie Stevenson, known for pure and precise renderings of Americana. Stevenson’s interpretation of a farmhouse hangs in the parlor of the Lacy House.

“I did his hair for 40 years,” he says. “He never paid for a haircut, and I always got the first copy of a print before they were shown in a gallery.”

Barnard does not cook, so he decided not to renovate the kitchen. 

Pieces of the past

Years ago, Barnard bought an opulent gold-leaf cabinet with painted insets of musicians, made around 1850 to hold sheet music. He knew that he liked it, but wasn’t quite sure what to do with it.

“It’s just right in the dining room,” he says. “It’s perfect for storing napkins and all the little odds and ends for the table.” 

That includes a Victorian-era fly catcher, a glass beaker filled with sugar water to attract insects that might annoy diners.

“The tatted cover is so the ladies at the table don’t have to look at the struggling flies,” Barnard says.

His longtime partner, Joe Thompson, discovered the elaborate crystal chandelier over the dining table at an antiques store in Alexandria, Va.

The original shaded oil lantern, embellished with faceted drop crystals, was moved to a former porch that now serves as an informal dining area. The space retains its distinctive tongue-in-groove wood ceiling. Vintage ladder-back chairs are paired with a rustic table crafted by a local artisan. The dry sink was handed down by Barnard’s grandmother.

Looking back, he thinks one of the best decisions he made in the house was to leave many things alone. He thought about gutting a dated kitchen, but only briefly. “I don’t cook at all, so it didn’t make sense for me,” he says. “The only change I made was installing a hot water dispenser.”

Sturdy cabinets provide storage. A compact range is a display space for teakettles. The dining area is large enough to accommodate a bar cart.

In the master bedroom, a stenciled border of swags, birds and berries dates back more than 50 years. Barnard occasionally touches it up, but opted not to paint or paper over the design.

 

The master bath, with its claw-foot tub and vintage sink, is awash in Victoriana, but it is a recent renovation. “This house cried out for a bathroom that looks like it could be in a grand old hotel,” he says.

The portrait that hangs in the foyer is a Victorian-era composite photograph that depicts his father as a boy of about 10 posing with his father, a young man in a dapper suit.

“Actually, my grandfather died when my dad was only 2 years old,” he says. “It was a custom of the day to superimpose someone in a photograph of someone who had died so you could imagine what it might have been like if they lived.”

Also among the memorabilia is a bill of sale from 1850, when the house was sold for $350. Capt. Lacy is buried in Milton, not far from the home he built.

“I go over and talk to him every once in a while,” Barnard says. “I tell him things are just great at his house.” 

 


GET THE LOOK

Enhance the authentic flavor of a historic home with locally sourced antiques and furnishings made by area artisans. / Embrace architectural elements. When Roi Barnard discovered beams and trusses beneath an old ceiling, he decided to make the old wood the focal point of the room. / Introduce whimsy. A brass chandelier is an unexpected accent in the garage. Vintage chamber pots are decorative accessories in guest rooms. / Reimagine and repurpose pieces. An ornate antique cabinet made to hold sheet music now stores napkins and other table settings in the dining room. A seldom-used kitchen range is a display place for teakettles. / Be mindful of your home's history. Before you start gutting rooms, contemplate what should go—and what is best left alone. 

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Website »

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CCArts Winter class registrations are open   The Center for the Creative Arts presents its Winter 2019 class and workshop offerings. With over 50 classes and workshops there is...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
410 Upper Snuff Mill Row
410 Upper Snuff Mill Row
Hockessin, DE  19736
View map »


Telephone: 302-239-2434
Contact Name: Nicole Schmid
Website »

More information

Winter Group Show  A rotating group show featuring an eclectic mix of artwork including paintings, drawings, ceramics, art glass and jewelry. Custom Framing and Gift Certificates are always...

Cost: free

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


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

For more than 90 years, the Delaware Art Museum has showcased contemporary craft by artists working locally and throughout the region. The Museum’s first juried Contemporary Crafts Show was...

Cost: Free for members. Included in Museum admission fee for non-members.

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »

More information

Pre-Raphaelite painter and women’s rights campaigner Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon (1827–1891) was an early female participant in the Pre-Raphaelite movement. Landscape was Bodichon’s...

Cost: Free for members. Included in Museum admission fee for non-members.

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »

More information

NEW HEIGHTS Erica Loustau  January 11 - December 11, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, January 11, 2019  7 - 9 PM Seeking to engage the unused space of our atrium lobby, artist...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

IN BETWEEN THEREShelley Thorstensen November 24, 2018 - March 17, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, December 7 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop For her first solo exhibition in Delaware,...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466

More information

A SENSE OF PLACE 47°-80° N Bethany Springer January 16 - May 12, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, February 1, 2019 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop A Sense of Place 47° - 80°...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

THE FAR IS NEAR Graham Dougherty & Ruth Ansel January 5 - 31, 2019 Opening reception: January 11  | 7 - 9 PM Graham Dougherty  ”We give shape...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466

More information

It’s almost game time, and we’re comin’ atcha with a touchdown of a to-go special! Get two hand-tossed pizzas, two orders of wood-fired wings (20 wings total) and two 32 oz....

Cost: $40.00

Where:
Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats
320 Rehoboth Ave.
Rehoboth Beach, DE  19971
View map »


Website »

More information

HALF : HALF A Draper Experiment by Willie Yao January 4 -  February 24, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, February 1 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop The Delaware Contemporary...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466

More information

Schedule a private group tour followed by lunch or dinner with a historic, revolutionary war era presentation.* Ideal for conferences, corporate meetings, special interest groups. $25 per...

Cost: $25–$45

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


Sponsor: The University and Whist Club
Telephone: 302-658-5125
Contact Name: Stacey Inglis
Website »

More information

ORIGINS Rick Rothrock & Stan Smokler January 8 - April 22, 2019 Special Reception: Friday, January 11, 2019  5:30 - 7:30 PM Artist Talk | 6:30 PM The Delaware Contemporary...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466

More information

Delve deep into the watercolors and biography of Barbara Bodichon on a tour with Curator Margaretta Frederick. 

Cost: Free with Museum admission.

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

The Connected Series engages local creative community members to produce art-based programs at the Museum. Join us for appetizers, cash bar, and short introduction to the Connected Series followed...

Cost: Free

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

Three times James Beard Best Chef Semi-Finalist to cook at The Whist! LIMITED seating. Owner of a(MUSE) and Grampa(MAC) in Rehoboth, DE. Five to six courses with chef-selected wine pairings. The...

Cost: $200/person

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


Telephone: 302-658-5125
Contact Name: Stacey Inglis
Website »

More information

By Michael Gotch Directed by Mark Lamos Stung by personal, political, and economic setbacks, a young, urban couple build an off-the-grid, tiny house in an isolated mountain paradise…or so they...

Cost: 15-32

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


Telephone: 302-831-2204
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

More than 50,000 books for sale!  Thurs., 1/24 from 5 PM to 9 PM Friends Members Only (membership available at the door for $10)  Fri., 1/25 from 9 AM to 9 PM  Sat.,...

Cost: $10 on Thursday night; free the rest of the weekend

Where:
Hockessin Memorial Hall
610 Yorklyn Road
Hockessin, DE
View map »


Sponsor: Friends of the Hockessin Library
Website »

More information

CCArts Winter class registrations are open   The Center for the Creative Arts presents its Winter 2019 class and workshop offerings. With over 50 classes and workshops there is...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
410 Upper Snuff Mill Row
410 Upper Snuff Mill Row
Hockessin, DE  19736
View map »


Telephone: 302-239-2434
Contact Name: Nicole Schmid
Website »

More information

Winter Group Show  A rotating group show featuring an eclectic mix of artwork including paintings, drawings, ceramics, art glass and jewelry. Custom Framing and Gift Certificates are always...

Cost: free

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


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

IN BETWEEN THEREShelley Thorstensen November 24, 2018 - March 17, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, December 7 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop For her first solo exhibition in Delaware,...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466

More information

NEW HEIGHTS Erica Loustau  January 11 - December 11, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, January 11, 2019  7 - 9 PM Seeking to engage the unused space of our atrium lobby, artist...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

THE FAR IS NEAR Graham Dougherty & Ruth Ansel January 5 - 31, 2019 Opening reception: January 11  | 7 - 9 PM Graham Dougherty  ”We give shape...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466

More information

Pre-Raphaelite painter and women’s rights campaigner Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon (1827–1891) was an early female participant in the Pre-Raphaelite movement. Landscape was Bodichon’s...

Cost: Free for members. Included in Museum admission fee for non-members.

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »

More information

A SENSE OF PLACE 47°-80° N Bethany Springer January 16 - May 12, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, February 1, 2019 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop A Sense of Place 47° - 80°...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

For more than 90 years, the Delaware Art Museum has showcased contemporary craft by artists working locally and throughout the region. The Museum’s first juried Contemporary Crafts Show was...

Cost: Free for members. Included in Museum admission fee for non-members.

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »

More information

Glory of Stories introduces young visitors to art and the Museum through a story reading followed by an interactive tour of relevant works of art and a studio art project. This program encourages...

Cost: Free to Members, $5 per child and one adult free for Non-Members

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »

More information

Glory of Stories introduces young visitors to art and the Museum through discovery, exploration, and hands-on experiences.Ages 2 and up. Visit delart.org for list of books. ...

Cost: Free to Members, $5 per child and one adult free for Non-Members.

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

It’s almost game time, and we’re comin’ atcha with a touchdown of a to-go special! Get two hand-tossed pizzas, two orders of wood-fired wings (20 wings total) and two 32 oz....

Cost: $40.00

Where:
Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats
320 Rehoboth Ave.
Rehoboth Beach, DE  19971
View map »


Website »

More information

HALF : HALF A Draper Experiment by Willie Yao January 4 -  February 24, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, February 1 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop The Delaware Contemporary...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466

More information

Schedule a private group tour followed by lunch or dinner with a historic, revolutionary war era presentation.* Ideal for conferences, corporate meetings, special interest groups. $25 per...

Cost: $25–$45

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


Sponsor: The University and Whist Club
Telephone: 302-658-5125
Contact Name: Stacey Inglis
Website »

More information

ORIGINS Rick Rothrock & Stan Smokler January 8 - April 22, 2019 Special Reception: Friday, January 11, 2019  5:30 - 7:30 PM Artist Talk | 6:30 PM The Delaware Contemporary...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466

More information

By Michael Gotch Directed by Mark Lamos Stung by personal, political, and economic setbacks, a young, urban couple build an off-the-grid, tiny house in an isolated mountain paradise…or so they...

Cost: 15-32

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


Telephone: 302-831-2204
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

More than 50,000 books for sale!  Thurs., 1/24 from 5 PM to 9 PM Friends Members Only (membership available at the door for $10)  Fri., 1/25 from 9 AM to 9 PM  Sat.,...

Cost: $10 on Thursday night; free the rest of the weekend

Where:
Hockessin Memorial Hall
610 Yorklyn Road
Hockessin, DE
View map »


Sponsor: Friends of the Hockessin Library
Website »

More information

Winter Group Show  A rotating group show featuring an eclectic mix of artwork including paintings, drawings, ceramics, art glass and jewelry. Custom Framing and Gift Certificates are always...

Cost: free

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


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

CCArts Winter class registrations are open   The Center for the Creative Arts presents its Winter 2019 class and workshop offerings. With over 50 classes and workshops there is...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
410 Upper Snuff Mill Row
410 Upper Snuff Mill Row
Hockessin, DE  19736
View map »


Telephone: 302-239-2434
Contact Name: Nicole Schmid
Website »

More information

Pre-Raphaelite painter and women’s rights campaigner Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon (1827–1891) was an early female participant in the Pre-Raphaelite movement. Landscape was Bodichon’s...

Cost: Free for members. Included in Museum admission fee for non-members.

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »

More information

For more than 90 years, the Delaware Art Museum has showcased contemporary craft by artists working locally and throughout the region. The Museum’s first juried Contemporary Crafts Show was...

Cost: Free for members. Included in Museum admission fee for non-members.

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »

More information

IN BETWEEN THEREShelley Thorstensen November 24, 2018 - March 17, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, December 7 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop For her first solo exhibition in Delaware,...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466

More information

NEW HEIGHTS Erica Loustau  January 11 - December 11, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, January 11, 2019  7 - 9 PM Seeking to engage the unused space of our atrium lobby, artist...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

A SENSE OF PLACE 47°-80° N Bethany Springer January 16 - May 12, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, February 1, 2019 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop A Sense of Place 47° - 80°...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

THE FAR IS NEAR Graham Dougherty & Ruth Ansel January 5 - 31, 2019 Opening reception: January 11  | 7 - 9 PM Graham Dougherty  ”We give shape...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466

More information

Schedule a private group tour followed by lunch or dinner with a historic, revolutionary war era presentation.* Ideal for conferences, corporate meetings, special interest groups. $25 per...

Cost: $25–$45

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


Sponsor: The University and Whist Club
Telephone: 302-658-5125
Contact Name: Stacey Inglis
Website »

More information

It’s almost game time, and we’re comin’ atcha with a touchdown of a to-go special! Get two hand-tossed pizzas, two orders of wood-fired wings (20 wings total) and two 32 oz....

Cost: $40.00

Where:
Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats
320 Rehoboth Ave.
Rehoboth Beach, DE  19971
View map »


Website »

More information

HALF : HALF A Draper Experiment by Willie Yao January 4 -  February 24, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, February 1 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop The Delaware Contemporary...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466

More information

ORIGINS Rick Rothrock & Stan Smokler January 8 - April 22, 2019 Special Reception: Friday, January 11, 2019  5:30 - 7:30 PM Artist Talk | 6:30 PM The Delaware Contemporary...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466

More information

Mr. Nathan Avakian from New York City will be performing on the 4th Largest Theatre Pipe Organ in the world  selections of comtemporary popular music along with Broadway and...

Cost: $20 Adults, $12.00 Students under 21

Where:
The Dickinson Theatre at John Dickinson High Schoo
1801 Milltown Road
Wilmington, DE, DE  19808
View map »


Sponsor: The Dickinson Theatre Organ Society
Telephone: 302-995-5630
Contact Name: Bob Dilworth
Website »

More information

By Michael Gotch Directed by Mark Lamos Stung by personal, political, and economic setbacks, a young, urban couple build an off-the-grid, tiny house in an isolated mountain paradise…or so they...

Cost: 15-32

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


Telephone: 302-831-2204
Website »

More information

This workshop will explore using pieces to create a larger whole. Using multiple small and simple objects, students will stack, hang, layer, or weave them into a larger sculptural...

Cost: $55 Members, $70 Non-Members.

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

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