A Downstate Seductress
One historic farmhouse charmed a buyer who couldn’t resist making it even more charming.
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To say Drexel Davison is a collector is an understatement. In his own words, his circa-1792 home, on six acres along Del. 9, is a museum. Indeed, the rooms are as carefully curated and thoughtfully designed as those intended for public display.
“I just use the bed, the bathroom, the microwave and the fridge,” says Davison, owner of two hair salons in Rehoboth Beach. That was especially true last year, when he decided to downsize to a condo closer to his businesses. He sold the home and stashed his possessions in PODS containers, but less than a week before settlement, the sale fell through, leaving Davison with a mostly empty house.
He decided to repaint, install new windows and move his things—including wide-eyed dolls, needlepoint pillows, Longaberger baskets, Candlewick glass, and a slice of cake from Diana and Prince Charles’ wedding—back to their rightful positions.
If it seems like an eclectic assortment—add a reproduction of Diana’s wedding dress, stars-and-stripes valances and paintings in bold primary colors by local artist Murray Archibald to the mix—then you don’t know Davison. The hairstylist and entrepreneur is at times self-deprecating, devastatingly funny and childlike, delighting in a fairytale world he’s created. And when placed with Davison’s exacting eye, the items create a handsome display. Even his childhood Popeye doll, wearing a white uniform and sitting in a miniature chair, looks refined.
Few would deny that the front of the cedar and brick home, from its pristine white shutters to its cornice work, is the epitome of colonial charm. “I love the house. It’s awesome,” Davison says. “It’s the most beautiful house in Sussex County.”
The farmhouse originally resided in Millsboro, and some of Davison’s older clients remember seeing it there. The house at one time belonged to the Mumford family, whose descendents have visited the old homestead in Lewes. Elizabeth Mumford in 1937 scrawled her name across the bathroom door. “I asked the family why she signed it on that day, but no one knows why she did,” Davison says. Nevertheless, he has not painted over it.
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