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Brandywine Hundred

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Culturally, Brandywine Hundred in extreme northern New Castle County is oriented almost as much toward Pennsylvania as toward Wilmington. William Penn's Quakers established a seventeenth-century meeting house at Carrcroft, northeast of Wilmington (the current building dates from 1845, with Gothic Revival additions of 1906). The fascinating utopia of Arden was created by Philadelphians (1900), and industrialized Claymont is an extension of the factories in the towns of Chester and Marcus Hook in Pennsylvania. In the early twentieth century, the Delaware River shoreline became increasingly industrial. The DuPont Company's Krebs Pigment and Color Corporation factory (1935) still belches smoke at Edgemoor, near the site of the famous nineteenth-century Edge Moor Iron Works, which closed that same year. Founded in 1869, Edge Moor provided the wrought and cast iron of the Main Building at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876, rolled iron and steel for the Brooklyn Bridge (1883), and is said to have prefabricated the Transportation Building for the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago.

In the twentieth century, suburbanization swept over the hundred. Architectural historian Susan Chase (1995) has identified ninety-three subdivisions built between 1900 and 1950. In that period, the population increased sixfold; then, in the 1950s alone, it further increased by 142 percent. Post–World War II developments were three times more compactly designed than the land-gulping ones built farther downstate in subsequent decades, but they preserved little open space and usually razed the old farmhouses of stone and frame. Nonetheless, a survey in the 1960s of this and adjacent Christiana Hundred found 486 buildings surviving from before 1850. Most developments were architecturally conservative; the look-alike modernist, corner-windowed houses of the one-street neighborhood of Delwood, east of Blue Ball, is a curious exception (1941). The new suburbs were served in part by International-Style Brandywine High School by Whiteside, Moeckel and Carbonell (1957–1959; 1400 Foulk Rd.).

Heavily traveled Concord Pike (U.S. 202) forms the spine of the westerly district of the hundred. It is practically impossible to imagine the days when this turnpike—a conduit for the shipment of Chester County's grain to mills on Brandywine Creek at North Market Street Bridge in Wilmington (WL51)—traversed fertile farmland. Rapid growth in the 1950s yielded some progressive modernism, much of which is now disappearing, including the glass-fronted library at Talleyville (1957–1959; Whiteside, Moeckel and Carbonell), demolished in 2005. The nearby Charcoal Pit restaurant (1956; 2600 Concord Pike) is a local landmark. A 225-acre park was created in 2002–2007 at the historic site of Blue Ball Tavern (eighteenth century, recently demolished) and around Alfred I. du Pont's Blue Ball Barn (c. 1914). Incredibly, du Pont's nearby Nemours estate (BR26) still contains several acres of virgin forest, a leafy oasis in a district that has seen sweeping changes.

Writing Credits

Author: 
W. Barksdale Maynard

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