By Courtney Lynahan, Curator of Historic Structures

Photo of Weldin House
Weldin House on May 20, 2020. Photo by Terry Wright

Since the late 1700s, the Weldin House has stood in stone in northern Wilmington. This historical structure is now at the center of a long-needed restoration effort that provides for a future use for the building.

For over 200 years, the Weldin House has been a prominent visual element on Philadelphia Pike. The property has a deep connection to the community, with many memories of local businesses nearby and the importance of the site as a visual landmark along the thoroughfare. That deep community connection has spurred the Weldin House’s restoration while residents have provided valuable information about the home’s history and advocated for its preservation. Community engagement and interest kept the building from demolition.

Originally a four-room house, the Weldin House was expanded over the centuries, with the final addition occurring in the 1940s. The land it sits on was originally owned by John Allmond in the 1770s and passed on to his son, also named John. The younger John’s sister, Elizabeth Allmond, married George Weldin, who is believed to have built the original house in the late 1700s.

The Weldin House is unique in its construction material. Brick was the prevalent material of choice for Delaware buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries, but stone structures weren’t completely unheard of in New Castle County. Since most of the state is located in a coastal plain (marked by mostly sandy soils and low elevation), before the railroad could transport materials, most stone structures had to be located near their source of material. Fieldstone buildings dot the areas along the western borders with Maryland and Pennsylvania, and to the east the only stone quarries in Delaware provided Brandywine Blue Granite (also known as the Wilmington blue rocks!). It is assumed that Weldin House was built using stone from a smaller quarry local to east Brandywine Hundred.

The Weldin House in 2019, before any restoration began.
Above: The Weldin House in 2019, before any restoration began.
Below: The Weldin House is shown after undergoing masonry cleaning and tree removal.
The Weldin House is shown after undergoing masonry cleaning and tree removal.

Over the years, the site has served various families and industries. It was first constructed to support a small farm, and a wheelwright shop was even added on site. By the early 20th century, the home was sold out of the Weldin family after it had undergone at least two expansions. The third and final major renovation took place under the ownership of Dr. Benjamin Veasey in the early 1900s.  He operated his medical office in the house and during his ownership, and changes included moving the entire downstairs parlor chimney out by 20 inches to expand the room.

The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the owner of the property, is now responsible for the building renovation and grounds management. The first phase of work, which will be the exterior renovations, will take place over several months into early 2022 and will include the demolition and rebuilding of the back additions, reconstruction of 18th century stone walls, repairs to windows and the demolition and reconstruction of the late-19th century porch on the south side of the building. All work on the exterior will be reviewed and approved by local and state authorities while keeping in line with preservation standards and practices. Additional efforts to renovate the interior and the site grounds are in the initial planning stages.

Photo of Terry Wright and Tim Slavin
Terry Wright (left), chair of the Eastern Brandywine Hundred Coordinating Council, presents a check for $22,000 to Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs Director Tim Slavin for rehabilitation work at Weldin House.

Work has already been underway to improve the site, including the installation of electrical power, remediation of environmental hazards, repaving of the parking lot and the removal of trees and overgrowth. The removal of paint and limewash from the façade of the building has once again revealed the handiwork of the building’s stone masonry, which features local Brandywine Blue Granite.

The Division is working with construction contractors BRS Consulting and architectural design consultants Bernardon on the long-term restoration effort. Research provided by the Center for Historic Architecture and Design in 2005 helped create a timeline for the evolution of the house and how it was constructed and changed over the years. Their work has become an invaluable resource during the design and planning of renovations. Efforts from legislators and local government worked to ensure its security and public interest kept the site at the forefront of local news. When the home is finished, the site’s history and future will both be secured.

The work so far was made possible in part by a $22,000 donation and ongoing support from the Eastern Brandywine Hundred Coordinating Council. On behalf of the Division, thank you for your generous support and for making this historical preservation effort possible.