ELEMENTS Home: A Respectful Renovation

With great care, a couple updates a 1936 center-hall colonial in popular Brandywine Hills.



Rich Soper has long been a fan of “This Old House,” the PBS show where craftsmen restore vintage homes.

Two years ago, he and his wife, Melissa, launched what might be “Their Old House,” where they would breathe new life into a property with some age to it.

“We were looking for an old stone house to do a renovation,” Melissa recalls. “So we started searching on the Internet.”

Restoring a house might be the ultimate reality show in which families balance their wish lists, budgets and coping skills. The prize the Sopers sought was a lovely, livable home that retains the charm and character of the original house while adding space and up-to-date amenities.

The couple, who were then living in Pennsylvania, found several prospective homes in Brandywine Hills, a community of stately residences in Wilmington that is experiencing a wave of revitalization.

“Not one house is the same,” Melissa notes. “They all have differences.”

To carry out a respectful restoration and update of the classic 1936 center hall colonial the Sopers eventually bought, they turned to architect Jeff Pack and builder Gary Munch of Boss Enterprises in Wilmington.

“Although we do all kinds of houses, we are very much traditionalists,” says Munch, a third-generation builder. “When we met the Sopers, we soon realized we were all on the same page.”

Meticulous researchers, the couple prepared for the project by calculating costs and studying resources and materials. Their strategy was to bundle several major projects: gutting and installing a kitchen, tearing down an attached garage and building a family room, adding a large master bath, and replacing a Florida room addition with a covered patio.

The most arduous part of the renovation was tearing down a stone bearing wall that separated the existing kitchen from the garage and creating a new support system. To carry out the entire game plan in a fast and furious six months, Munch brought in a team that included Amish artisans skilled in working on vintage homes.

“You need really good installers in an old house because nothing is plumb or square,” Melissa says.

In order to make a seamless transition to the new kitchen, the Sopers extended the oak flooring found in the rest of the house.

Those warm tones are reflected in honey-stained cherry cabinets with raised panels, enhanced with crown molding, fluted accents and forged bird-cage pulls. Arched trim defines the primary sink, and glass-fronted cabinets provide storage for barware. A granite counter, wine chiller and secondary stainless steel sink form the bar area. The tumbled marble backsplash is accented with a cluster of grapes.

“It’s the details that take a good kitchen to a great kitchen,” Rich says.

A six-burner Wolf gas range is set into a peninsula that delineates the adjoining family room. The stainless steel hood provides a dramatic sculptural element, as well as ventilation. As attractive as it is, the layout is supremely functional.

“I can see the TV and be part of the action while I’m cooking,” Melissa says.

The family room is eight feet longer than the turned garage it replaced, giving the couple more space without sacrificing the lines or proportions of the structure.

“We didn’t want it to look like we just plopped something on the back of the house,” Munch says.

In order to replicate the deep window wells found in the original part of the house, the contractor built a shallow false wall on both sides of the room. The ceiling is vaulted to more than nine feet. Transoms above the windows boost natural light.

“If we kept the ceiling the same height as the kitchen, it would have looked like a tunnel,” Melissa says. “We wanted it to be bright and open.”

One of the biggest decisions the Sopers faced was choosing which elements of their home to update and which to leave just as they were.

The couple embraced such period details as the gracefully curved overhead light covers, still in perfect condition after nearly three-quarters of a century. The center hall opens to a formal living room with a fireplace on the left and a dining room on the right.

Upstairs, a hall bathroom retains its vintage black-and-white tiles and porcelain sink on chrome legs. The floor is paved in the time-honored windmill pattern.

But the master bath wasn’t in keeping with the Sopers’ vision of a spa-like space they could share. So they created a new bath, an expansive retreat in a restful palette inspired by white Carrera marble flecked with silvery gray tones.

A deep soaking tub is outfitted with a retro-style hand shower. A large stall shower is framed in glass and marble. His-and-hers vanities with white stone tops, creamy, bow-front cabinets and vintage-style taps were purchased already assembled from Ethan Allen. Oval mirrors above the vanities are flanked by pairs of sconces, a subtle homage to the harmonious balance and symmetry found throughout the house.

The space formerly occupied by the master bath is now a modern walk-in closet for Melissa, with rods, shelving and an old-fashioned amenity that is making a comeback, a built-in ironing board.

Along the way, the Sopers added several minor projects to their wish list, such as updating the first-floor powder room.

“When people are going through a big renovation, it’s good to get as many things as you can off the list,” Munch says. “Then they can take a little rest before they move on to something else.”

A tired, ground-level Florida room was torn off and renovated as a 1930s-style covered patio, with a tongue-in-groove ceiling and classic, colonial pillars. The wood framing was painstakingly hand scribed in order to fit the contours of the home’s stone exterior, a detail common in the mid-20th century, but not often seen today.

After a brief breather, the Sopers have already moved on to their next project: installing an oversized, two-car garage, driveway and extensive landscaping.

“We want to do things right,” Rich says. “We owe that to our neighborhood.”  

DT

 

 

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February 2017

February 3 – 25 Group Show featuring still life paintings in oil by Rosemary Castiglioni; gestural animal paintings by Gay Freeborn; and plein air landscapes from Zion National Park,...

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Cost: 10

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100 Station Ave
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320 Lantana Drive
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Cost: FREE

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Nanticoke Memorial Hospital
801 Middleford Road
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Telephone: 302-536-5395
Contact Name: Nanticoke Weight Loss & General Surgery
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Cost: $25-50

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Baby Grand Theater
818 N. Market Street
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[Un]Ravel, a show of photographs by Joshua Meier, will be on view in the Mezzanine Gallery from February 3-24, 2017. An opening reception to meet the artist will be held on Friday, Feb....

Cost: Free

Where:
Mezzanine Gallery
820 N. French Street
2nd Floor, Carvel Building
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: Delaware Division of the Arts
Telephone: 302-577-8278
Contact Name: Roxanne Stanulis
Website »

More information

February 3 – 25 Group Show featuring still life paintings in oil by Rosemary Castiglioni; gestural animal paintings by Gay Freeborn; and plein air landscapes from Zion National Park,...

Cost: free

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


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Uncover the facts, fictions, and fossils of Dinosaur Revolution as you LIVE LARGE in reptilian role-play activities. Undertake three Mesozoic Missions spanning 150 million years and mimic dinosaur...

Cost: Free with Admission

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Newark, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-658-9111
Website »

More information

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Cost: Adults: $9 Children (3-17): $7 Seniors (60+): $8 Under 3: FREE Members: FREE

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Website »

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Cost: Free with Admission

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Cost: FREE

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Contact Name: Nanticoke Weight Loss & General Surgery
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Cost: Free

Where:
Mezzanine Gallery
820 N. French Street
2nd Floor, Carvel Building
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: Delaware Division of the Arts
Telephone: 302-577-8278
Contact Name: Roxanne Stanulis
Website »

More information

February 3 – 25 Group Show featuring still life paintings in oil by Rosemary Castiglioni; gestural animal paintings by Gay Freeborn; and plein air landscapes from Zion National Park,...

Cost: free

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


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Uncover the facts, fictions, and fossils of Dinosaur Revolution as you LIVE LARGE in reptilian role-play activities. Undertake three Mesozoic Missions spanning 150 million years and mimic dinosaur...

Cost: Free with Admission

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Newark, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-658-9111
Website »

More information

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Cost: see description

Where:
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501 Chandler Mill Rd
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Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
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Cost: Adults: $9 Children (3-17): $7 Seniors (60+): $8 Under 3: FREE Members: FREE

Where:
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4840 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Website »

More information

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Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
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2301 Kentmere Parkway
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More information

East Coast Garden Center Indoor Farmer's Marke 25 vendors

Cost: Free

Where:
East Coast Garden Center
30366 Cordrey Rd
Millsboro, DE  19966
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Telephone: 302-945-3489
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East Coast Garden Center Indoor Farmers Market Nov 8, 2016 - April 11, 2017  11 am- 2 pm 25 vendors Location:  East Coast Garden Center 30366 Cordrey Rd Millsboro, DE 19966 302-945-3489

Cost: frr

Where:
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30366 Cordrey Rd
Millsboro, DE  19966
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Sponsor: East Coast Garden Center
Telephone: 302-945-3489
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Join Saint Francis Healthcare on Tuesday, February 21, from 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. in recognition of American Heart Month. Many 'heart healthy' activities will be available for the community to...

Cost: FREE

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701 N Clayton St.
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Contact Name: Lauren Mancini
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Cost: $18-$20

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Cost: FREE

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600 N Market Street
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Telephone: 302-629-6224
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Nanticoke Weight Loss & General Surgery will host bariatric support groups on Tuesday, Feb. 7 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and Monday, Feb. 27 from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Medical Staff...

Cost: FREE

Where:
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801 Middleford Road
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Telephone: 302-536-5395
Contact Name: Nanticoke Weight Loss & General Surgery
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[Un]Ravel, a show of photographs by Joshua Meier, will be on view in the Mezzanine Gallery from February 3-24, 2017. An opening reception to meet the artist will be held on Friday, Feb....

Cost: Free

Where:
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820 N. French Street
2nd Floor, Carvel Building
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: Delaware Division of the Arts
Telephone: 302-577-8278
Contact Name: Roxanne Stanulis
Website »

More information

February 3 – 25 Group Show featuring still life paintings in oil by Rosemary Castiglioni; gestural animal paintings by Gay Freeborn; and plein air landscapes from Zion National Park,...

Cost: free

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


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Uncover the facts, fictions, and fossils of Dinosaur Revolution as you LIVE LARGE in reptilian role-play activities. Undertake three Mesozoic Missions spanning 150 million years and mimic dinosaur...

Cost: Free with Admission

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Newark, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-658-9111
Website »

More information

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Cost: Adults: $9 Children (3-17): $7 Seniors (60+): $8 Under 3: FREE Members: FREE

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Website »

More information

Between 1917 and 1944, the Society of Independent Artists (SIA) hosted annual exhibitions for its members. Famous painters and Sunday painters were able to exhibit their work in enormous open shows...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

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


Website »

More information

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Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
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View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
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Cost: FREE

Where:
Nanticoke Training Center
121 S Front Street
Seaford, DE  19973
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Telephone: 302-536-5386

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Cost: FREE

Where:
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital
801 Middleford Road
Seaford, DE  19973
View map »


Telephone: 302-536-5395
Contact Name: Nanticoke Weight Loss & General Surgery
Website »

More information

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Cost: $25 ADV - $30 DOS + FEES

Where:
World Cafe Live- Wilmington
500 North Market Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »

More information

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[Un]Ravel, a show of photographs by Joshua Meier, will be on view in the Mezzanine Gallery from February 3-24, 2017. An opening reception to meet the artist will be held on Friday, Feb....

Cost: Free

Where:
Mezzanine Gallery
820 N. French Street
2nd Floor, Carvel Building
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: Delaware Division of the Arts
Telephone: 302-577-8278
Contact Name: Roxanne Stanulis
Website »

More information

February 3 – 25 Group Show featuring still life paintings in oil by Rosemary Castiglioni; gestural animal paintings by Gay Freeborn; and plein air landscapes from Zion National Park,...

Cost: free

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


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Uncover the facts, fictions, and fossils of Dinosaur Revolution as you LIVE LARGE in reptilian role-play activities at the Delaware Museum of Natural History's newest special exhibit. Undertake...

Cost: Adults: $9 Children (3-17): $7 Seniors (60+): $8 Under 3: FREE Members: FREE

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Website »

More information

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30AM-12:00PM Fall session: Thursday, Dec 1st thru Thursday, December 15th Winter session: Tuesday, January 17th thru Thursday, March 30th   Drop in on Nature is...

Cost: see description

Where:
The Annex
501 Chandler Mill Rd
Kennett Square, PA  19348
View map »


Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
Website »

More information

Uncover the facts, fictions, and fossils of Dinosaur Revolution as you LIVE LARGE in reptilian role-play activities. Undertake three Mesozoic Missions spanning 150 million years and mimic dinosaur...

Cost: Free with Admission

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Newark, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-658-9111
Website »

More information

Between 1917 and 1944, the Society of Independent Artists (SIA) hosted annual exhibitions for its members. Famous painters and Sunday painters were able to exhibit their work in enormous open shows...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

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


Website »

More information

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Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
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View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

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Bucktoe Creek Preserve
432 Sharp Rd
Avondale, PA  19311
View map »


Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
Website »

More information

Nanticoke Weight Loss & General Surgery will host bariatric support groups on Tuesday, Feb. 7 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and Monday, Feb. 27 from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Medical Staff...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital
801 Middleford Road
Seaford, DE  19973
View map »


Telephone: 302-536-5395
Contact Name: Nanticoke Weight Loss & General Surgery
Website »

More information

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Where:
Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery
2000 Maryland Ave.
Wilmington, DE  19805
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Telephone: 302-656-4421
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Cost: Childbirth class, $50. Refresher class, $25.

Where:
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital
801 Middleford Road
Seaford, DE  19973
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Telephone: 302-629-6611 x2540
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Cost: $2 per person

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Hagley Museum and Library Soda House
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[Un]Ravel, a show of photographs by Joshua Meier, will be on view in the Mezzanine Gallery from February 3-24, 2017. An opening reception to meet the artist will be held on Friday, Feb....

Cost: Free

Where:
Mezzanine Gallery
820 N. French Street
2nd Floor, Carvel Building
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: Delaware Division of the Arts
Telephone: 302-577-8278
Contact Name: Roxanne Stanulis
Website »

More information

February 3 – 25 Group Show featuring still life paintings in oil by Rosemary Castiglioni; gestural animal paintings by Gay Freeborn; and plein air landscapes from Zion National Park,...

Cost: free

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


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Uncover the facts, fictions, and fossils of Dinosaur Revolution as you LIVE LARGE in reptilian role-play activities. Undertake three Mesozoic Missions spanning 150 million years and mimic dinosaur...

Cost: Free with Admission

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Newark, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-658-9111
Website »

More information

Uncover the facts, fictions, and fossils of Dinosaur Revolution as you LIVE LARGE in reptilian role-play activities at the Delaware Museum of Natural History's newest special exhibit. Undertake...

Cost: Adults: $9 Children (3-17): $7 Seniors (60+): $8 Under 3: FREE Members: FREE

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Website »

More information

Between 1917 and 1944, the Society of Independent Artists (SIA) hosted annual exhibitions for its members. Famous painters and Sunday painters were able to exhibit their work in enormous open shows...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

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


Website »

More information

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

Nanticoke Weight Loss & General Surgery will host bariatric support groups on Tuesday, Feb. 7 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and Monday, Feb. 27 from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Medical Staff...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital
801 Middleford Road
Seaford, DE  19973
View map »


Telephone: 302-536-5395
Contact Name: Nanticoke Weight Loss & General Surgery
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Tutto Fresco has live entertainment every Friday night from 6:30–9:30 p.m. Call for details. http://tuttofrescode.com/

Where:
Tutto Fresco
514 Philadelphia Pike
Wilmington, DE  19809
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Meeting every Friday, Bayhealth Kent General Hospital, 640 s. State Street, Dover, 7:30 pm., Private Dining Room #3 in the basement. For those who have, or think they may have a gambling problem....

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Bayhealth Kent General Hospital
640 S. State Street
Private Dining Room #3
Dover, DE  19901
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Telephone: 800-855-2CALLGA
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JOHNNY WINTER ALL STAR BAND The Johnny Winter Band has been wowing audiences everywhere with incredible music played by Johnny's band and guest artists. Join Paul Nelson and The JW Band in a...

Cost: $20 ADV + $22 DOS + FEES

Where:
World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 215-222-1400
Contact Name: MP Intern
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Now in its 8th year, the PAWS for People Conference/Annual Meeting is designed for those who love their pets, are pet enthusiasts or who want to learn more about the world of Pet Therapy. This...

Cost: $45 through 2/14; $50 after that date; $5 discount for PAWS members.

Where:
Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children
1600 Rockland Road
Wilmington, DE  19803
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Sponsor: PAWS for People
Telephone: 302-351-5622
Contact Name: Clarice Ritchie
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February 3 – 25 Group Show featuring still life paintings in oil by Rosemary Castiglioni; gestural animal paintings by Gay Freeborn; and plein air landscapes from Zion National Park,...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-654-8638
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Uncover the facts, fictions, and fossils of Dinosaur Revolution as you LIVE LARGE in reptilian role-play activities at the Delaware Museum of Natural History's newest special exhibit. Undertake...

Cost: Adults: $9 Children (3-17): $7 Seniors (60+): $8 Under 3: FREE Members: FREE

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Uncover the facts, fictions, and fossils of Dinosaur Revolution as you LIVE LARGE in reptilian role-play activities. Undertake three Mesozoic Missions spanning 150 million years and mimic dinosaur...

Cost: Free with Admission

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Newark, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-658-9111
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The Wilmington & Western Railroad's Hockessin Art Festival is a fundraising effort to benefit the railroad. Over 25 artists will be displaying and selling limited-edition...

Cost: $3 for art show admission; $5 for train fare (children under 2 are free)

Where:
Hockessin Memorial Hall
606 Yorklyn Road
Hockessin, DE  19707
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Sponsor: Wilmington & Western Railroad
Telephone: 302-998-1930
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Are you interested in learning more about what volunteer opportunities the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation has to offer? Consider attending our Volunteer Open House at our shipyard in Wilmington, DE from...

Cost:

Where:
Kalmar Nyckel Foundation
1124 E 7th St
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Between 1917 and 1944, the Society of Independent Artists (SIA) hosted annual exhibitions for its members. Famous painters and Sunday painters were able to exhibit their work in enormous open shows...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
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DCM Guests will experience, engage in, and take home different STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathmatics) activities run by Science Ambassadors from the Charter School of Wilmington...

Cost: $8.75

Where:
Delaware Children's Museum
550 Justison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 302-425-4890
Contact Name: Joe Valenti
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The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE
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Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
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Build a hydraulic-powered machine while learning about pressure, water, and power. Families work together to solve science mysteries and engineering challenges. Activities are included in regular...

Cost: Adults: $14, Children 6-14: $5, Children 5 and under and Hagley Members: FREE

Where:
Hagley Museum and Library
200 Hagley Creek Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Nanticoke Weight Loss & General Surgery will host bariatric support groups on Tuesday, Feb. 7 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and Monday, Feb. 27 from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Medical Staff...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital
801 Middleford Road
Seaford, DE  19973
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Telephone: 302-536-5395
Contact Name: Nanticoke Weight Loss & General Surgery
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An evening of entertainment and hope at the 2017 Wilmington Heart Ball. Each year, community members, medical professionals and corporate leaders come together to celebrate the lifesaving work of...

Cost:

Where:
Chase Center on the Riverfront
815 Justison St
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Join us for an unforgettable evening of entertainment and hope at the 2017 Wilmington Heart Ball.  Each year, community members, medical professionals and corporate leaders come together to...

Cost: $175

Where:
Chase Center on the Riverfront
815 Justison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Sponsor: American Heart Association
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We are a mixture of some of the best and hardest working musicians in the Philadelphia area specializing in a mashup concept, fusing the music of The Allman Brothers Band and The Grateful Dead....

Cost: $10 + FEES

Where:
World Cafe Live- Wilmington
500 North Market Street
Wilmington, DE
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Mo Lowda & The Humble is a three piece Indie-rock group from Philadelphia, PA. The band has created a unique musical style combining various genre's ranging from garage rock to jazz fusion;...

Cost: $10 + FEES

Where:
World Cafe Live- Wilmington
500 North Market Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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