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First Office

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1837. 1849 enlarged to the east. 1969 restored

For decades the little stone building with brick window arches housed the office of the president of the powder company. Built for Alfred Victor du Pont, it originally measured just 28 × 28 feet. The entire headquarters staff of the company as late as the 1880s consisted of “Boss Henry” du Pont plus bookkeeper, paymaster, bill clerk, telegrapher, and office boy. The building was never electrified, but it was linked to Wilmington by telegraph (1855) and telephone (1883). “Boss Henry” manned the telegraph here in 1860 as election returns for Lincoln came in. Abandoned as a headquarters in 1891 (for the New Office, CH14), by the 1920s it had come to be seen as a cherished relic of the company's past. The current museum display shows it in Alfred Victor's time, with a room in the era of “Boss Henry,” too. Horses and mules that hauled powder wagons and rail cars were kept in the barn just uphill (1802–1803, rebuilt 1844, restored 1970), in which a single, enormous structural beam runs wall to wall.

Writing Credits

W. Barksdale Maynard


What's Nearby


W. Barksdale Maynard, "First Office", [Wilmington, Delaware], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Delaware

Buildings of Delaware, W. Barksdale Maynard. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008, 69-69.

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