Historic preservation loses champion

The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs is mourning the loss of Eldon du Pont Homsey, an architect and long-time advocate for historic preservation, who died on May 11, 2020.

Photo of Eldon du Pont Homsey
Eldon du Pont Homsey

Known to his friends and family as ‘Don,’ Homsey was born in Wilmington on Oct. 13, 1936 to the noted architects Samuel Eldon Homsey and Victorine du Pont Homsey. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University, he earned a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania in 1961. Thereafter, he joined his parents’ architectural firm, taking over as principal upon their retirement in 1978.

Over the course of a long and distinguished career which ended with his retirement in 2015, Homsey designed many award-winning buildings including the Three Mill Road office complex on the banks of the Brandywine Creek in Wilmington and the Terrace Restaurant at Longwood Gardens.

Photo of the Three Mill Road office complex
Three Mill Road office complex

In addition to volunteer service with many civic and community organizations, Homsey was a champion of historic preservation, serving as president and co-founder of Preservation Delaware which was established in 1993, as state director for Delaware to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, as chair of Odessa Historic District Commission and as a member of the Quaker Hill Historic Preservation Foundation.

Between 1982 and 1991, Homsey served as a member of the Delaware State Review Board for Historic Preservation, the advisory body to the division’s State Historic Preservation Office. He was chair of the Review Board from 1985 to 1989. During his tenure, the board reviewed numerous nominations to the National Register of Historic Places resulting in the honorary listing of several historic properties, archaeological sites and historic districts across the state. Notable listings include Howard High School in Wilmington; the Fourteen Foot Bank Light in Delaware Bay; the Clayton Railroad Station; and particularly, historic districts across the state including the National Harbor of Refuge and Delaware Breakwater Harbor Historic District in Lewes, and historic districts in Felton, Laurel, Townsend, Wilmington and Wyoming.

In 1989, he led efforts to revise the Review Board’s operating procedures and was recognized, along with his fellow board members, for providing “a clear and compelling voice for the wishes and concerns of Delawareans” in the creation of Delaware’s 1989 Comprehensive Historic Preservation Plan which was written by the University of Delaware’s Center for Historic Architecture and Engineering.

Commenting on Homsey’s passing, division Director Tim Slavin noted, “Don’s vision and skills as an architect were matched by his warmth, friendliness and willingness to serve all of Delaware. We extend our condolences to his family on his passing.”

Homsey is survived by four children, five grandchildren and his wife of 42 years, Elizabeth Moyne Homsey, a champion of historic preservation in her own right whose accomplishments include, among others, service as the State of Delaware’s chief of Archives and Special Records.

Go to the following for more information on the life of Eldon du Pont Homsey.

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