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Mordington

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c. 1770–1800 period. Canterbury Rd. (DE 15) at McColley Pond, southwest of Frederica

An ironmaster and miller built this elegant, side-passage brick house on an upper branch of the Murderkill River, overlooking a millpond. It shows the moment of transition between Georgian and Federal; new are the side hall or town house form (popular in adjacent Maryland) and double-pile plan, fashionable keystoned lintels (of wood, painted to resemble stone), and the absence of a water-table. In an unusual touch, the stringcourse runs around the entire structure. In 1930, during the Great Depression, the owner agreed to sell the interior woodwork to H. F. du Pont of Winterthur (CH10). For $3,500, du Pont bought eight doors and their trim, six window trims and reveals, all the carved cornices and chair rails, two mantlepieces, the staircase, porch columns, and even the old beams in the garage. Virtually all that was spared was the chimneypiece of the southwest room. Du Pont's architect, Burt Ives, measured the material prior to removal. “Sixth Floor Hall” and “Wisteria Hall” at Winterthur were adorned with Mordington fragments in 1930–1931, and the front door of the house became the entrance to “Massachusetts Hall.” Unlike many of the buildings from which du Pont removed materials, Mordington was in little danger of demolition and still stands today, making it, for some, an egregious example of the collecting practices of the 1930s. The house briefly stood vacant before the Leslie I. March family purchased it in 1941. Its stair and other woodwork have been replicated, and the present front door came from a house in historic Berlin, Maryland.

Writing Credits

Author: 
W. Barksdale Maynard
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Citation

W. Barksdale Maynard, "Mordington", [Harrington, Delaware], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/DE-01-KT32.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Delaware

Buildings of Delaware, W. Barksdale Maynard. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008, 241-241.

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