This quirky complex—a copy of Independence Hall, Philadelphia, as the centerpiece of a shopping mall—was the creation of Wilmington-born developer Capaldi. A painter by avocation, he sketched historic buildings in Philadelphia and here assembled many of them in a creative combination: the rows of shops that flank the main building individually refer to Philadelphia landmarks, including the Letitia Street House, Carpenters Hall, and Philosophical Hall. In Center Line, AIA Delaware blasted the project: “To build such a cheap, commercial imitation of our sacred Hall of Independence would be a disgrace to our community and should outrage each and every citizen.” The flanking buildings formed a “mish-mash,” and the whole was termed a “discreation.” Today one might argue that the Disney-like design blended high and low culture in a way that anticipated postmodernism. Capaldi also designed Olde Colonial Village (completed in 1966), a group of apartments at Naamans and Foulk roads that pioneered the town-house approach, again following eighteenth-century Philadelphia examples. He planned a series of Independence Malls across the country and had begun one in Dover when he died suddenly at age forty-nine in 1966. The central building and tower were burned by an arsonist in 1980 and have been reconstructed in a less elaborate form.
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1963–1964, Emilio Capaldi. 1980–1981 central structure rebuilt, Joe Chickadel. U.S. 202, north of Foulk Rd. (DE 261)
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