Inside One Couple's Charming Lake Como Home

Ron and Ellen Sayers artfully arranged a lifetime's accumulation of heirlooms and keepsakes throughout a modern lakeside space.


Published:

The kitchen

Photography by Thom Thompson

The name Sayers is almost synonymous with Smyrna.

Sayers Jewelers & Gemologists has been a landmark on Main Street for the past 66 years. And for more than three decades, Ron, the gemologist, and Ellen, his wife, lived just a couple blocks away, in a historic brick home where they raised their three sons.

Respectful and responsible homeowners, they maintained and improved the 170-year-old home, preserving boxwood gardens, enjoying the pool and entertaining friends.

Over the years, the boys grew up, moved out, married and started their own families. Even so, Ron and Ellen hadn’t planned to move or downsize. But when a home on Lake Como came on the market about 12 years ago, the couple reexamined their situation, then made the move—somewhat reluctantly, Ellen says. 

“I love that house, but Ron always said if we ever moved, it would be by the lake.”

They considered the maintenance their home required. They wondered if their age and mobility would become limiting factors. And Ellen had serious concerns about how their personal collections—family heirlooms and other sentimental pieces they acquired over the years—would fit into a house of contemporary design.

There was no need to worry—the blend of historic and contemporary now seems effortless.

The Sayerses take full advantage of their location
on the banks of Lake Como

The “new” Sayers home is situated in a comfortable neighborhood on the north side of the lake. The dove-colored exterior, accented by compatible landscaping, welcomes family and friends.

Over time, the Sayerses tweaked the home to better meld with their expansive and hospitable lifestyle. They added a deck, for example. A few years later they decided it was difficult to keep clean, so they turned a portion into a spacious sun room with a broad expanse of lake-facing windows. It is Ellen’s favorite place in the house. 

The Sayerses replaced a bay window in the first-floor master bedroom with sliding doors to an adjacent deck that accommodates a hot tub. To make the room more comfortable, they added a roof over part of the deck, allowing them to embrace the sunshine while shielding them from heat and strong rays during summer. In the winter, the room is still used frequently, thanks to a gas fireplace.

The space is large enough to house part of Ron’s late father’s collection of nautical memorabilia. An authentic ship’s wheel from an old steamer on the Connecticut River sits next to a binnacle from a World War II Liberty cargo ship, the case housing the ship’s compass and navigational instruments.

Ellen’s collection of houseplants, including an assortment of palms, thrives in the environment. She chose a shade of lime green for throw pillows and placemats to connect the lawn and the outdoors with the much-enjoyed living area.

The sun room looks out onto the lake

The sun room, she says, provides a comfortable space for reflection, so she finds time for a short break there while dinner simmers. The view of the lake often reveals a great blue heron or bald eagle.

When family and friends visit, they enter through the back door, off the driveway, then head for the kitchen.

The Sayerses’ mothers (now in their 90s), three sons, daughters-in-law, grandchildren and one great-granddaughter, Emma June, are part of their daily lives.

The dining room

The spacious kitchen and adjacent informal living-dining area were designed for entertaining. Windows face the lake, of course, and the Sayerses found ways to maximize the space while maintaining warmth and comfort in the adjacent seating areas. 

The kitchen was built for a crowd. It is anchored by five sinks and three ovens. Gleaming exotic wood cabinets and black countertops, accentuated by natural light, have an urban feel that is softened by the patina of heirlooms. The kitchen’s design, the Sayerses note, reflects the choice of the previous owner, but they found their family needed a larger center island and, eventually, new appliances.

The Sayerses’ collectibles, displayed at varying levels, are striking. Brightly colored antique glass witches’ balls dot the windows. Hunting trophies—a deer, moose and fox—look down into the comfortable sitting area. An antique slot machine, baskets and vintage culinary heirlooms add to the mix.

“Not everybody has a moose in the kitchen,” says Ron.

The house has some other unusual features. The focal point of a powder room, for example, is a teak sink. “Powder room,” however, becomes a misnomer when the couple reveals what they call “the secret shower.” The shower is concealed by what appears to be a mirror-panel wall that bends—with just the right touch—into folding doors, opening into a shower.

The formal dining room is topped by a hardwood ceiling, though the owners are unsure of the type or source of the wood, which is highlighted by a distinctive grain.

The dining room opens into a formal living room dominated by a baby grand piano. Each furnishing has a story, each linked to their ancestors. Visiting the Sayerses is a bit like a trip to the “Antiques Roadshow,” minus the questions. They have the history, provenance and the legends, and they are willing to share their memories.

“There’s a lot of history in this place,” Ellen says. 

The dining room table and the living room couch were gifts from parents early in their marriage. An alabaster statue was a 60th birthday gift to Ron from his parents. 

“The second floor is a museum,” says Ellen, somewhat cautiously. 

Almost every piece of furniture, each framed photo or document in the bedrooms has its own link to the family tree, and many pieces have well-preserved documentations. In one bedroom, for example, the bed is topped with a pieced and embroidered red-and-white quilt created by Ron’s grandmother in 1923.

A clock was a wedding gift to Emma Stutzman, his great-great grandmother, purchased as her wedding gift for $3.95 in 1896. And nearby is his mother’s wicker baby carriage. She is 92 now. 

A treasure trove of handmade furniture, a treadle sewing machine, Ellen’s collections of antique dolls and a loveseat connected to the courting of now deceased family members complement two other bedrooms.

Ellen admits that it took a couple of years to adapt and adjust to their home, but she feels the process is complete.

“I’m happy here now,” she says. “This home is us.” And with a smile, Ron agrees.

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February 2019

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Telephone: 130-265-66466
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Cost: free

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Cost: 0.00

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410 Upper Snuff Mill Row
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View map »


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

More information

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200 South Madison Street
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Telephone: 130-265-66466
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Telephone: 302-983-5710
Contact Name: Susan Coulby

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Cost: FREE

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View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466

More information

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Cost: FREE

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200 South Madison Street
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View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

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Cost: FREE

Where:
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200 South Madison Street
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View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

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Cost: $25–$45

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The University and Whist Club
805 N Broom St
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View map »


Sponsor: The University and Whist Club
Telephone: 302-658-5125
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Website »

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View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466

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537 Stanton Christiana Rd #210
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View map »

More information

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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

An eclectic mix of paintings featuring Ed Bronstein oils of Philadelphia neighborhoods and cityscapes,​ plein air scenes from Kennett Square and surrounding areas by Dan Chow, mixed media...

Cost: free

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


Telephone: 302-654-8638
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

Two-time Delaware Division of the Arts Fellowship recipient Ellen Durkan of Iron Maiden Forge, who is both a graduate of and an instructor at Delaware College of Art and Design, will present a solo...

Cost: Free

Where:
Delaware College of Art and Design
600 N Market. St
Wilmington , DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: Delaware College of Art and Design
Telephone: 302-983-5710
Contact Name: Susan Coulby

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

GARLAND OF SUCHNESS Karoline Wileczek February 1 - 24, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, February 1, 2019 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop Karoline Wileczek's grid pattern work functions...

Cost: FREE

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


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

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

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

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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
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Telephone: 130-265-66466

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​Brandywine Baroque, Karen Flint, harpsichordr; Laura Heimes, soprano;  Tony Boutté, tenor;Eileen Grycky, flute; Edwin Huizingal, violin;  Martin Davids, violin; John Mark...

Cost: 5-15

Where:
Gore Recital Hall
Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Road
Newark, DE  19716
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Sponsor: University of Delaware Department of Music
Telephone: 302-831-2577
Contact Name: Megan Everhart
Website »

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For the month of February, get a full set of Lashes at Premier Spa and Laser Center for just $199.

Cost: $199

Where:
Premier Spa & Laser Center
537 Stanton Christiana Rd #210
Newark, DE  19713
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An eclectic mix of paintings featuring Ed Bronstein oils of Philadelphia neighborhoods and cityscapes,​ plein air scenes from Kennett Square and surrounding areas by Dan Chow, mixed media...

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

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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
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Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

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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
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Telephone: 130-265-66466

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GARLAND OF SUCHNESS Karoline Wileczek February 1 - 24, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, February 1, 2019 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop Karoline Wileczek's grid pattern work functions...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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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
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Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

The Wilmington branch of the American Association of University Women is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its sale of used books to fund college scholarships for women and is also preparing for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Concord Mall
3737 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE  19803
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Sponsor: American Association of University Women Wilmington Branch
Telephone: 302-428-0939
Contact Name: AAUW

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Two-time Delaware Division of the Arts Fellowship recipient Ellen Durkan of Iron Maiden Forge, who is both a graduate of and an instructor at Delaware College of Art and Design, will present a solo...

Cost: Free

Where:
Delaware College of Art and Design
600 N Market. St
Wilmington , DE  19801
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Sponsor: Delaware College of Art and Design
Telephone: 302-983-5710
Contact Name: Susan Coulby

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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
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Website »

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

  UHS Used Book Sale 750 Unionville Road Kennett Square, PA  19348    Unionville High School's gymnasium is hosting the annual Unionville High...

Cost: Free

Where:
Unionville High School Gymnasium
750 Unionville Road
Kennett Square, PA  19348
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Sponsor: UHS PTO
Contact Name: UHS PTO
Website »

More information

For the month of February, get a full set of Lashes at Premier Spa and Laser Center for just $199.

Cost: $199

Where:
Premier Spa & Laser Center
537 Stanton Christiana Rd #210
Newark, DE  19713
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Calling all bicyclists to ride for a good cause. Help the Sea Colony Recreational Association raise awareness and money by sponsoring, pedaling, or cheering on fellow bicyclists. Ride for Delaware...

Cost: General Admission is FREE!

Where:
SeaColony, Freeman Fitness Center
38994 West Way Drive
Bethany Beach, DE  19930
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Sponsor: Delaware Hospice
Contact Name: Jen Neal

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An eclectic mix of paintings featuring Ed Bronstein oils of Philadelphia neighborhoods and cityscapes,​ plein air scenes from Kennett Square and surrounding areas by Dan Chow, mixed media...

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

Create a unique design to use as part of a necklace, bracelet, or earrings. The  2 day workshop includes demonstrations and design so that students can leave with a wearable work of art!...

Cost: $160 Members, $180 Non-Members.

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

More information

Cub Scout Tigers—Tigers in the Wild, 9:30am-12pm, Scouts will learn the difference between what animals eat, and whether that makes them an herbivore, carnivore, omnivore, or detrivore. Discover...

Cost: $12 - $5

Where:
Brandywine Zoo
1001 North Park Drive
Wilmington, DE  19802
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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 Wilmington branch of the American Association of University Women is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its sale of used books to fund college scholarships for women and is also preparing for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Concord Mall
3737 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE  19803
View map »


Sponsor: American Association of University Women Wilmington Branch
Telephone: 302-428-0939
Contact Name: AAUW

More information

Two-time Delaware Division of the Arts Fellowship recipient Ellen Durkan of Iron Maiden Forge, who is both a graduate of and an instructor at Delaware College of Art and Design, will present a solo...

Cost: Free

Where:
Delaware College of Art and Design
600 N Market. St
Wilmington , DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: Delaware College of Art and Design
Telephone: 302-983-5710
Contact Name: Susan Coulby

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

GARLAND OF SUCHNESS Karoline Wileczek February 1 - 24, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, February 1, 2019 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop Karoline Wileczek's grid pattern work functions...

Cost: FREE

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


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

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

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

Engage in a variety of hands-on experiments related to science, technology, engineering, and math, at the DCM's annual S.T.E.M. Expo, led by the Science Ambassadors from the Charter School of...

Cost: Free for Members

Where:
Delaware Children's Museum
550 Justison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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February 23 – Saturday – 1 to 4 p.m. Science Saturday – Pump It Up! For this Saturday’s activity, visitors will have fun with fluid dynamics and hydraulics - Pascal...

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

Where:
Hagley Museum & Library
201 Hagley Creek Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Sponsor: Hagley Museum & Library
Telephone: 302-658-2400238
Contact Name: Laura Jury
Website »

More information

Sat. Feb. 23: Cub Scout Bears: Critter Care, 1pm-3:30pm, Bears Elective Adventure: Critter Care Caring for an animal is a big responsibility! Join us at the Brandywine zoo to learn about different...

Cost: $12-$5

Where:
Brandywine Zoo
1001 North Park Drive
Wilmington, DE  19802
View map »


Website »

More information

  UHS Used Book Sale 750 Unionville Road Kennett Square, PA  19348    Unionville High School's gymnasium is hosting the annual Unionville High...

Cost: Free

Where:
Unionville High School Gymnasium
750 Unionville Road
Kennett Square, PA  19348
View map »


Sponsor: UHS PTO
Contact Name: UHS PTO
Website »

More information

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:   CONTACT INFORMATION Phone: (302) 369-3466 E-Mail: busmgr@newarksymphony.org Website: http://www.newarksymphony.org   NEWARK SYMPHONY FEBRUARY...

Cost: 0 - $20

Where:
Newark United Methodist Church
69 E. Main Street
Newark, DE  19711
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Sponsor: Newark Symphony Orchestra
Telephone: 302-369-3466
Contact Name: Business Manager
Website »

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The NSO February Chamber concert, conducted by Principal Guest Conductor Rebekah O’Brien, opens with a performance of Jacques Ibert, Concerto for Cello and Wind Orchestra, featuring Douglas...

Cost: $0 - $20

Where:
Newark United Methodist Church
69 E. Main Street
Newark, DE  19711
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Sponsor: Newark Symphony Orchestra
Telephone: 302-369-3466
Contact Name: Business Manager
Website »

More information

For the month of February, get a full set of Lashes at Premier Spa and Laser Center for just $199.

Cost: $199

Where:
Premier Spa & Laser Center
537 Stanton Christiana Rd #210
Newark, DE  19713
View map »

More information

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