May 10, 2019

Preservation Personals: William Penn's Legendary Lodgings

  • By: Emma Sarappo
The exterior of the William Penn House in New Castle, Delaware.

photo by: Greg Ellis

New Castle, Delaware 19720.

I’ll admit that in historic preservation, local legends aren’t a preferred source of information about places—but mine is so charming I stand by it. It’s said that when William Penn first set foot in America, he spent the night in one of my rooms. But I’m not in Pennsylvania; there was no Pennsylvania yet. This was 1682, and Penn landed in what is today New Castle, Delaware.

I’m a contributing part of New Castle’s vibrant historic district, an area listed on the National Register of Historic Places. I stand directly across from the New Castle Court House, named a National Historic Landmark for its role as the seat of colonial government and for being the site where, in June of 1776, Delaware severed ties with England (and with the governor it shared with Pennsylvania). In total, the district has nine designated historic buildings and contributes to First State National Historical Park. My neighbors and I are committed to preserving the town’s Dutch, Swedish, and English colonial history for the future.

Today, my property is more than 3,000 square feet, split between two buildings. I’m zoned for commercial use, and in the past I’ve been used as a coffee shop, a retail space for local artisans, an entertaining space, and a bed and breakfast. If you have bigger dreams, I could be converted into an office—or even a residential space for yourself or others. When you’ve been around as long as I have, you learn to be flexible.

Ready to own one of Delaware’s oldest buildings? See my listing here. Looking for something a little younger? See our other historic real estate listings here.

The interior of the main building.

photo by: Greg Ellis

I've been an entertaining space, a coffee shop, and more.

The second building on the William Penn House property.

photo by: Greg Ellis

3,000 square feet spread across two buildings means plenty of flexibility in how I'm used.

Emma Sarappo is a former Editorial Intern at the National Trust. She can be found writing or in the kitchen of her century-old DC rowhouse.

Join us for PastForward, the historic preservation event of the year, October 10-12 in Denver, Colorado. Register online by October 4!

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