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Kent County

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“Where the wheat fields break and billow, In the peaceful land of Kent,” goes the state song, “Our Delaware” (c. 1906). In this rural heart of the state, bounded by the Smyrna River on the north and the Mispillion on the south, small towns lie amidst big farm fields and roads intersect at variously named “Corners.” Several brick houses survive from the eighteenth century—including Eden Hill (1749; Water St., Dover) and Great Geneva (c. 1760; DE 356, 3 miles south of Dover)—reminders of the wealth that some Kent County gentry attained, including a number of Quakers. The National Register of Historic Places lists 140 sites in the county, including architecturally rich historic districts in such towns as Felton, Frederica, Kenton, Smyrna, Wyoming, and Milford; Dover, the state capital, appears in its own chapter. The register highlights several rural churches, for example, the colorfully named Cow Marsh Old School Baptist Church, near Sandtown, of 1872. The region remained farm-centered until after World War II, when its population suddenly surged by 70 percent in the 1950s. Growth has continued; in the 1990s, Kent County was the fastest-growing metropolitan statistical area in eleven northeastern states. There were about twice as many residents of Kent in 2000 as there had been in 1960, and one in four housing units standing in 2000 had been built since 1990. Not until 2003 did the county have development ordinances that required protection of woodlands, wetlands, and historic sites. The flavor of the past is perhaps most apparent along scenic DE 9, which parallels the bay shore in both New Castle and Kent counties; several of the entries that follow lie in close proximity to this road, as does the nineteenth-century Raymond Neck Historic District, north of Leipsic.

Writing Credits

W. Barksdale Maynard

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