Borrowing From its Past
The Brick Hotel in Georgetown, a former Wilmington Trust branch, trades loans for lodgings.
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The Brick Hotel on The Circle in Georgetown was once a Wilmington Trust branch. Now it’s an oasis for travelers, thanks to owner and innkeeper Lynn Lester.
Built in 1836, the hotel served Southern Delaware for more than a century. It was also used for short stints as a temporary courthouse and a post office.
Wilmington Trust converted the hotel into its main Sussex County branch in the 1950s. The building continued in that function until the mid-1990s, when the bank moved to a larger facility outside of town.
Owners of the building since 2000, Lynn and Ed Lester were unsure of what to do with it. Lynn retired from her job as director of administrative services for the Seaford School District. She and Ed, a prominent real estate agent for 35 years, bought the property just before Lynn retired.
Ed envisioned a professional center, given the shortage of office space in Georgetown. And though Lynn understood the logic behind her husband’s concept, she had other ideas.
“While I supported that, my whole thought process was, ‘Let me try this,’” Lynn says. “It used to be a tavern and an inn. It used to be a meeting place for people for 100 years. And just how cool would that be to return that piece of history to the community, town and state?”
But taking on the conversion of a historic building that had already undergone a significant refit a half-century earlier wasn’t something Lynn and Ed planned lightly.
State historic preservation rules required that they strike a careful balance between maintaining original features and adding modern amenities that guests would demand, all while integrating an on-site bar and restaurant and satisfying the code requirements of a modern commercial building.
Achieving that meant embarking on a gutting of the structure while reclaiming salvageable material and maintaining major historical elements like the original center stairway, window and door trim, and the narrow third-floor corridor.
To maintain historical accuracy, features the Lesters hoped to expose—such as the building’s former back brick wall and the hand-hewn beams in the former attic—had to stay hidden.
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