Finding the Right-Sized Home

Not too big and not too small, a Millsboro resident faces a mid-size house crisis when searching for a new home.


Published:


Photographs by John Lewis

The Opulent dining room.

In the not-too-distant past, Theda Blackwelder lived in a large house in Millsboro. For most of that time, it was a perfect fit. But as her life evolved, her home started to feel too big. She wasn’t quite ready to downsize. Call it mid-sizing, the sweet spot between a house that has too much room and a home that doesn’t have enough space. Her wish list for a new home included an open floor plan that would accommodate gatherings of family and friends, as well as a formal dining room with space for a china cabinet. A garage and lots of closets, including a coat closet, also were must-haves. “I looked at townhouses that were very nice but seemed a bit snug,” she recalls. “I soon realized I might be in for a good long search.” She found her ideal destination in Millsboro, only a few miles from her former home. It isn’t a townhouse. It isn’t a condominium. It’s a three-bedroom house, not too big and not too small. “I think it’s just right,” she says.

Artful decorating

Blackwelder shared her larger home with her late husband, the Rev. David Blackwelder, a Lutheran pastor and psychologist. She, too, is committed to helping the community, serving over the years on the boards of the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover and Opera Delaware in Wilmington. She is the current president of the Village Improvement Association in Rehoboth Beach. With a busy schedule, she appreciates that a newer home doesn’t require much maintenance. She would rather devote her energies to decorating the house. “It’s such great fun, putting a home together,” she says. One of her favorite aspects of interior design is choosing colors, weaving the vibrant hues she loves into the decor. In the kitchen, she painted the walls a warm terra cotta, a crisp contrast to the white cabinetry. In the master bedroom and adjoining bath, the color scheme is a cheerful combination of red, white and black. The arts are an important part of her life, and that is reflected in her home. Masks from operas—Blackwelder sang in the chorus—are displayed on walls. A woodcarving embellished with pebbles from Costa del Sol is a reminder of a trip to Spain with her daughter. A century-old lady’s fan, inlaid with mother -of-pearl, an heirloom from her husband’s family, is framed like a piece of art. In a casual dining area in the first-floor gathering space, the walls are painted with vines and blooms, an artistic nod to the outdoors. A wall-size painting of boats was a gift from a friend who is a painter. “We had loaned him our home, and when he asked how he could pay us, we said, ‘Oh, just paint something,’” she recalls. “We did not expect something so large and impressive.”

The spacious master bedroom. 

Family heirlooms

Blackwelder has fond memories of her grandmother, who collected antiques for many years in her native Virginia. “She wound up with enough furniture to fill three houses,” she says. Her grandmother documented the provenance of each piece, taking down such details as when and where an item was made and who had owned it over the years. Blackwelder, intent on starting her own family, didn’t take much notice at the time. That is one of her rare regrets. “If I had to do it over again, I would have paid more attention,” she says. In mid-sizing, she emulated her grandmother, giving away furniture, accessories and household goods to her three grown children. It’s a satisfying solution on multiple levels. The next generation gets to enjoy the pieces, and Blackwelder experiences the pleasure of passing along family mementos. She has been collecting china and crystal for years. She gave a grandson and a granddaughter each a full set and still has more than enough to stage a fine table in the formal dining room. “I’m a china nut,” she says. “I have dinnerware—some good, some just fun—for most all occasions: Valentine’s Day, Christmas, winter, fall, spring, Fourth of July, plus a special set for when I serve Asian food, a set for serving Italian foods, shells for a beach theme and so on.”

A casual dining area features an artistic nod to the outdoors.

Measure twice

Like downsizing, successful mid-sizing requires lots of preparation. Before she began planning the furniture placement, she took lots of measurements of both the rooms in her new home and the pieces she wanted to put in them. “I could tell where I would place the big things—and what things I could not take with me,” she says. “I had to ask myself a lot of questions. What is important to me? What is not?” Scaling down also means bringing in new pieces that are a better fit. Because the sitting area is used for both formal and informal living, Blackwelder bought a tufted-back sofa in neutral beige in keeping with a more relaxed vibe. “My grandmother’s Duncan Phyfe sofa was very pretty, but it was never comfortable,” she says. Even though her home is smaller, she doesn’t shy away from decorative pieces that make a statement, such as the sailboat model in the sitting area. “We went to pick it up in a van, and it took several passers-by, very helpful women, to figure out how to fit the sailboat in the van,” she recalls. She also rethought the spaces in her new home. For example, Blackwelder didn’t need a second guest bedroom. But she knew she would enjoy a home library, where she could read, reflect and watch films. The room is a pleasant space, with comfortable seating and shelves for books and her DVD collection. A vintage window from a detached garage in Virginia now hangs in the library, its panes replaced with mirrored glass.

The home’s open floor plan accommodates gatherings of family and friends.

‘It had to go’

No matter how many times she reconfigured her layout, there was no place for one of her most cherished pieces, a hand-painted screen. “It’s very large, with birds and gold leaf, and also very heavy,” she says. “So it had to go.” Blackwelder owns a large harp, an instrument she played as part of the National Capital Harp Ensemble in Washington, D.C. She knew she wanted to keep it. But where to place the instrument in her smaller home? The solution was to position the harp on the landing of the second-story hallway, a niche that is open to the first floor. The harp doesn’t disrupt the home’s traffic flow, and there’s plenty of room to practice. Stationed in front of a large window, the harp also provides heavenly curb appeal. “People can see it when they drive by,” she says. “They think an angel lives here.”

The homeowner found the perfect spot for her harp—the second-story landing.

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Telephone: 302-239-2434
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Telephone: (302) 219-0718
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More information

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Cost: 0.00

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View map »


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

More information

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Cost: FREE

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More information

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Cost: FREE

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Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

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Cost: FREE

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Website »

More information

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More information

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Cost: FREE

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Cost: FREE

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

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Slow down, settle your mind, and step into the quietude of the Museum’s Labyrinth.     

Cost: Free; donations are accepted to assist with maintenance.

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
Wilmington, DE  19806


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In a continuing effort to prevent losing lives to overdoses, the Division of Public Health (DPH) will distribute free naloxone kits at clinics in March. If you or someone you care about is...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Delaware Tech — Terry Campus
100 Campus Drive
253 N.E. Front St.
Dover, DE  19904
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Sponsor: Division of Public Health
Telephone: 302-424-7140

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The Lighthouse Inc. Church presenta el servicio de la iglesia en espanol.  El servicio de la iglesia en espanol comenzia 14 de merzo de 2019.  Hables espanol?  Entonces este es el...

Cost: free

Where:
The Lighthouse Inc., Church
6 S Railroad Ave
Wyoming, DE  19934-1026
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Sponsor: The Lighthouse Inc.Church
Telephone: 302-697-1472
Contact Name: Christopher Gore

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By Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee  Directed by Sanford Robbins  “It’s not about science versus religion. It is about the right to think.” Inspired by the sensational Scopes “Monkey...

Cost: 15-32

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

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Epilepsy Foundation of Delaware’s Yara’s Fund supports the emergency medication program.  Individuals with epilepsy, who struggle to pay for their medication can receive assistance...

Cost: NO COST - SHOE DRIVE

Where:
Bear-Glasgow YMCA
351 George Williams Way
Bear, DE  19702
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Sponsor: Kind Girls Rule The World
Telephone: (302) 219-0718
Contact Name: Valerie Nelson
Website »

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Jacalyn Beam “A Way of Seeing”  Plein Air landscape paintings from the Brandywine Valley and Delaware beaches. Opening Reception to Meet the Artist - Friday, March 1, 5...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19809
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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
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Telephone: 302-239-2434
Contact Name: Nicole Schmid
Website »

More information

From End Caste Apartheid to Smash Brahminical Patriarchy: The Art of Equality Labs February 25 – April 12, 2019 Curated by Thenmozhi Soundararajan Featuring: Khushboo Gulati | Maari...

Cost: 0

Where:
Asian Arts Initiative
1219 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA  19107
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Sponsor: Asian Arts Initiative
Telephone: 215-557-0455
Contact Name: Melissa
Website »

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TOTALLY MYTHOLOGICAL Henry Bermudez February 28 - April 25, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, March 1, 2019 5 - 9 PM | during first Friday Art loop 5:30 - 6:30 PM | Panel discussion,...

Cost: FREE

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


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

TIME STILLED, MY HAIR NARRATIVE A Draper Experiment by Tia Santana March 1 - April 28, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, March 1 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop The Delaware...

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

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

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

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

The Lighthouse Inc. Church presenta el servicio de la iglesia en espanol.  El servicio de la iglesia en espanol comenzia 14 de merzo de 2019.  Hables espanol?  Entonces este es el...

Cost: free

Where:
The Lighthouse Inc., Church
6 S Railroad Ave
Wyoming, DE  19934-1026
View map »


Sponsor: The Lighthouse Inc.Church
Telephone: 302-697-1472
Contact Name: Christopher Gore

More information

By Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee  Directed by Sanford Robbins  “It’s not about science versus religion. It is about the right to think.” Inspired by the sensational Scopes “Monkey...

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...

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

Jacalyn Beam “A Way of Seeing”  Plein Air landscape paintings from the Brandywine Valley and Delaware beaches. Opening Reception to Meet the Artist - Friday, March 1, 5...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19809
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

TIME STILLED, MY HAIR NARRATIVE A Draper Experiment by Tia Santana March 1 - April 28, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, March 1 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop The Delaware...

Cost: FREE

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


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

TOTALLY MYTHOLOGICAL Henry Bermudez February 28 - April 25, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, March 1, 2019 5 - 9 PM | during first Friday Art loop 5:30 - 6:30 PM | Panel discussion,...

Cost: FREE

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


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

From End Caste Apartheid to Smash Brahminical Patriarchy: The Art of Equality Labs February 25 – April 12, 2019 Curated by Thenmozhi Soundararajan Featuring: Khushboo Gulati | Maari...

Cost: 0

Where:
Asian Arts Initiative
1219 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA  19107
View map »


Sponsor: Asian Arts Initiative
Telephone: 215-557-0455
Contact Name: Melissa
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

Every Friday | 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.   Read a story fromFairy Tales to Nursery Rhymes, explore art, and create. Ages 2+. Family Friendly.  

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

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


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

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

The Lighthouse Inc. Church presenta el servicio de la iglesia en espanol.  El servicio de la iglesia en espanol comenzia 14 de merzo de 2019.  Hables espanol?  Entonces este es el...

Cost: free

Where:
The Lighthouse Inc., Church
6 S Railroad Ave
Wyoming, DE  19934-1026
View map »


Sponsor: The Lighthouse Inc.Church
Telephone: 302-697-1472
Contact Name: Christopher Gore

More information

Chadds Ford Elementary welcomes over 65 local and regional artists for the 70th Annual Art Sale & Show on March 22-23, 2019. Artists display and sell their art in an array...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Chadds Ford Elementary School
3 Baltimore Pike
Chadds Ford, PA  19317
View map »


Sponsor: Chadds Ford Elementary PTO
Contact Name: Kara Hyman
Website »

More information

By Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee  Directed by Sanford Robbins  “It’s not about science versus religion. It is about the right to think.” Inspired by the sensational Scopes “Monkey...

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

Poisoned apples. Glass slippers. Who needs ’em?! Not Snow White and her posse of disenchanted princesses in the hilarious hit musical that’s anything but Grimm. Forget the princesses...

Cost: $10 - $25

Where:
Bootless Stageworks
1301 N. Broom Street
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Telephone: 130-288-79300
Contact Name: Box Office
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Jacalyn Beam “A Way of Seeing”  Plein Air landscape paintings from the Brandywine Valley and Delaware beaches. Opening Reception to Meet the Artist - Friday, March 1, 5...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19809
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

TOTALLY MYTHOLOGICAL Henry Bermudez February 28 - April 25, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, March 1, 2019 5 - 9 PM | during first Friday Art loop 5:30 - 6:30 PM | Panel discussion,...

Cost: FREE

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


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

TIME STILLED, MY HAIR NARRATIVE A Draper Experiment by Tia Santana March 1 - April 28, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, March 1 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop The Delaware...

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

Delaware & Pennsylvania Home Owners Thinking of selling your home? Whether you're just considering selling or have already started to prepare, our experts will walk you through...

Cost: FREE

Where:
INDEPENDENCE MALL
1601 Concord Pike, Suite 88
Wilmington, DE  19803
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Sponsor: The Kat Geralis Home Team
Telephone: 302-575-1080
Contact Name: April Griffith
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

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

Keeper Talks, 11:30am & 1:30pm, www.brandywinezoo.org (302) 571-7747 Join our keepers for daily talks about the animals here in the Zoo. Topics and animals change daily, so there’s always...

Cost: Adults $ 5, Seniors $4, Kids $3; free for under 3yrs and for members.

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


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

Meet Marilyn A. Bauman, author of Edward L. Loper Sr., The Prophet of Color.     Image:Old Farm,1954. Edward Loper Sr. (1916–2011). Oil on canvas, 18 × 22...

Cost: Free with Museum admission.

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


Website »

More information

ART & SOUL ART AUCTION AND CONTEMPORARY AFFAIR Saturday, March 23, 2019 7 - 10 PM VIP Pre-Party | 6 - 7 Celebrate our 40th anniversary at this glamorous event inspired by the...

Cost: $80 - $250

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


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

Chadds Ford Elementary welcomes over 65 local and regional artists for the 70th Annual Art Sale & Show on March 22-23, 2019. Artists display and sell their art in an array...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Chadds Ford Elementary School
3 Baltimore Pike
Chadds Ford, PA  19317
View map »


Sponsor: Chadds Ford Elementary PTO
Contact Name: Kara Hyman
Website »

More information

The Lighthouse Inc. Church presenta el servicio de la iglesia en espanol.  El servicio de la iglesia en espanol comenzia 14 de merzo de 2019.  Hables espanol?  Entonces este es el...

Cost: free

Where:
The Lighthouse Inc., Church
6 S Railroad Ave
Wyoming, DE  19934-1026
View map »


Sponsor: The Lighthouse Inc.Church
Telephone: 302-697-1472
Contact Name: Christopher Gore

More information

By Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee  Directed by Sanford Robbins  “It’s not about science versus religion. It is about the right to think.” Inspired by the sensational Scopes “Monkey...

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

Poisoned apples. Glass slippers. Who needs ’em?! Not Snow White and her posse of disenchanted princesses in the hilarious hit musical that’s anything but Grimm. Forget the princesses...

Cost: $10 - $25

Where:
Bootless Stageworks
1301 N. Broom Street
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Telephone: 130-288-79300
Contact Name: Box Office
Website »

More information

Sal "The Voice" Valentinetti comes to The Event Center at SugarHouse Casino on Saturday, March 23, at 8 p.m. Tickets go on sale Friday, Jan. 11, and cost $29 to $49.

Cost: $29-49

Where:
SugarHouse Casino
1001 N. Delaware Ave
Philadelphia, PA  19125
View map »


Website »

More information

The concerto grosso, one of the high baroque’s most varied and conversational forms, pivots on dialogue between an orchestra and groups of soloists. We perform masterpieces of the genre by...

Cost: $25-39

Where:
Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral
23 S. 38th St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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Sponsor: Tempesta di Mare
Telephone: 215-755-8776
Contact Name: Ulrike Shapiro
Website »

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