On Sept. 19, 2014, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs received notification from the National Park Service that the Burton-Blackstone-Carey Store in Millsboro has been officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the United States government’s official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects deemed worthy of preservation.
Located at 103 S. State St., the two-story, rectangular frame-structure, built circa 1840 in the vernacular Greek-Revival style, is Millsboro’s oldest–known commercial building with intact historic fabric. Over its 170-year history, it has housed a wide variety of businesses including a dry-goods store, a drug store, a finance company and a paint store. It currently serves as a custom frame-shop operated by Beatrice Carey.
The structure features an unusual hooded corner-entrance, original rectangular-bay display windows with decorative lambs-tongue and chamfered wooden trim on the cross pieces of the shop windows and original two-light double-door entrance with paneled bases and a molded header surmounted by a two-light transom. Other noteworthy architectural features include its original clapboards located beneath the recently added metal sheathing, a 19th century board-and-batten door with iron strap hinges, wide pine floor-boards located on the second floor and original mortise-and-tenon roof rafters.
During the mid-1800s, the building was owned by Benjamin Burton, the town’s wealthiest resident and the largest-known slave owner in Delaware. Burton is noted for accompanying Delaware Congressman George Fisher to Washington, D.C. in 1861 for a meeting with President Abraham Lincoln in which they discussed plans for the compensated emancipation of the state’s slaves.
Originally situated at the corner of State and Main streets, the Burton-Blackstone-Carey Store was moved approximately 50 feet down State Street in 1918 to accommodate the construction of a masonry bank for the Delaware Trust Company. The repositioned building, owned by Maud and Earnest Blackstone, served as Millsboro’s local drug store for decades. Between 1918 and 1929, the Blackstones added a one-story lean-to addition and established an ice cream parlor in the back room. Ernest Blackstone later entered public service and was sworn in as Delaware’s state treasurer on Dec. 26, 1936.