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Belmont Hall

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c. 1770–1800 period. U.S. 13, north of Smyrna-Leipsic Rd.
  • Belmont Hall

This stately colonial home was erected by Revolutionary governor Thomas Collins. The flat-topped gable pediment that embraces the full five-bay width of the facade is an unusual form in Delaware, though Philadelphia had several examples. On the roof is a deck with balustrade. Dates for the construction of Belmont Hall have ranged widely, some sources giving 1686 for the rear wings and 1753 for the front; today, it is generally held that the entire house was built in one campaign after Collins purchased the property in 1771. The house was featured in Marion Harlan's More Colonial Homesteads (1899), showing exterior changes that have since been removed. By Harlan's time, interiors were marked by the new Colonial Revival fashion, with a spinning wheel beside a blue-and-white-tile fireplace and a grandfather clock on the stair landing. Already Belmont Hall had attracted artists: Howard Pyle visited in 1879 to write and illustrate a Harper's New Monthly Magazine article. Two workmen spent the summer of 1920 scraping nineteenth-century paint from the colonial bricks with wire brushes and acid. The top floor was destroyed by fire two years later; subsequently, the house was restored and dormers were added. Owner Cummins Speakman drove down from Wilmington to show a National Geographic reporter through in 1935 and repeated one of the cherished legends of the place: “On the roof of Belmont Hall one of Washington's sentries was shot. Mortally wounded by a British sharpshooter, he crawled to a bedroom to give the alarm.” The house was sold in 1984 to the state, and it is now used as a conference center. In front of the house stretches a spacious lawn with large trees, 100 of which blew down in a tornado in 1988.

Writing Credits

Author: 
W. Barksdale Maynard
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Citation

W. Barksdale Maynard, "Belmont Hall", [Smyrna, Delaware], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/DE-01-KT13.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Delaware

Buildings of Delaware, W. Barksdale Maynard. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008, 230-230.

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