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Christiana Hundred

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The northern two-thirds of this rolling Piedmont hundred include what is known as Chateau Country, among the most expensive real estate in Delaware. The less scenic southern third, however, consists of dense suburbs and, at the lower edge, the former colonial highway of Newport Pike and the Amtrak line. Red Clay Creek on the west was once lined with mills, including the celebrated snuff mills at Yorklyn, the remains of which were largely demolished in 2003. Several historic bridges cross the creek. The DuPont gunpowder mills at Hagley on the Brandywine still stand (CH15). In the nineteenth century, small farms in upper Christiana Hundred were consolidated into enormous estates of the du Pont family. An early step in popularizing the chateaux was the Garden Club of Wilmington's publication of a map in 1938 highlighting the gardens of its wealthy members. Gradually during the course of the twentieth century, more of the public was invited to visit, and several mansions have become conference centers or museums, including the famous Winterthur Museum (CH10). Christiana Hundred contains the state's best variety of high-style domestic architecture. (As its architectural history is bound up with the history of the du Ponts, a genealogical chart is provided in The Du Pont Family and Architecture.) With the coming of suburbanization, the Hundred's population grew more rapidly than that of any other district around Wilmington, from 4,700 in 1900 to 18,700 in 1940—and then to 31,700 in 1950. With the south entirely built up, the north continues to grow, with loss of the scenic farmland that gave the area a bucolic character. Accordingly, preservationists are concerned for the future of the region.

Writing Credits

W. Barksdale Maynard

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