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By Jennifer Bowman, volunteer services coordinator, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs
On the sunny autumnal morning of Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, a group of 23 volunteers gathered at historic Belmont Hall in Smyrna to help clear storm damage in observance of National Cleanup Day. On Aug. 4, 2020, Tropical Storm Isaias caused significant damage to the site including many of its mature trees. The house and buildings were thankfully spared. Dedicated volunteers from the local community, including Harmony Lodge No. 13, state Sen. Bruce Ennis and the Friends of Belmont Hall gathered with tools, gloves, masks and determination to assist with restoring the ornamental landscape to its former beauty.
The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs sincerely appreciates Sen. Ennis’ help in spreading the word about the opportunity to help at Belmont Hall. Volunteers of all ages showed up with enthusiasm to enjoy some fresh air while removing branches, splintered trees and debris, collectively putting in over 80 hours of work! The division’s Horticulture Team plans to replace the downed trees with two for every one that was lost utilizing the Delaware Forest Service’s “Recommended Tress for New Planting” guidelines. Thank you to everyone who was able to lend a hand at Belmont Hall! We look forward to offering more volunteer opportunities in the coming months.
Completed in 1773, Belmont Hall was built for Thomas Collins, high sheriff of Kent County, brigadier-general in the American Revolution and eighth president of Delaware. From 1772 until the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, Belmont Hall was the scene of many meetings attended by noted patriots Caesar Rodney, Allen McLane, Col. John Haslett, Lt. Col. Charles Pope, John Dickinson, Thomas McKean and Judge Richard Bassett. Belmont Hall is a property of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, administered by the Friends of Belmont Hall.
Volunteer Services Coordinator Jennifer Bowman joined the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs in September 2020. Previously, she served as a historic site interpreter at the Zwaanendael Museum in Lewes; worked in environmental, historical and cultural education; and has conducted outreach for numerous organizations including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Cornell University.