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Thomas Lea House

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1770. 1963 restoration, Robert L. Raley and Albert Kruse. 1801 Market St.
  • Thomas Lea House (Delaware Division of Historical & Cultural Affairs, Dover, Del.)
  • (Damie Stillman)

In 1770, a decade after the first overshot mills were begun on the south bank of the Brandywine, James Marshall excavated a millrace on the north. With the granite thus made available he built this five-bay, two-story Georgian house, which Thomas Lea, prominent miller and banker, bought in 1785. It survives as the oldest dwelling in the vicinity, emblematic of the prosperity that water-powered industrialization brought. Old Brandywine Village, Inc., was organized to buy the threatened structure in 1963. The group undertook a restoration in which nineteenth-century accretions—fully half of the building—were demolished and interiors were returned to a colonial appearance. Original partition walls were identified by ghost-marks on the floors. The old exterior doorframe was discovered beneath one from 1830. In a then-pioneering preservation strategy, adaptive reuse, the house was turned over to the Junior League of Wilmington in 1965 as a headquarters. The house has variously been known as the Lea-Derickson House and the Harvey-Derickson-Bringhurst House.

Writing Credits

W. Barksdale Maynard


What's Nearby


W. Barksdale Maynard, "Thomas Lea House", [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, 119-120.

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