Read House – New Castle, Delaware
Posted by: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
N 39° 39.576 W 075° 33.686
18S E 451839 N 4390127
Quick Description: Historic house in the New Castle Historic District in New Castle, Delaware, now operated as a house museum.
Location: Delaware, United States
Date Posted: 2/20/2015 8:32:42 PM
Waymark Code: WMNDEX
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member thebeav69
Views: 0

Long Description:

The READ HOUSE,NW. side of Strand, between Harmony and Delaware Sts., in the late Georgian Colonial mode, was built by George Read, son of the Signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Built of brick, two and a half stories, the house is broader than its height, it's for basement windows with marble lintels and the vertical iron bars flanking the flight of nine marble entrance steps. All the elements of the exterior are symmetrical: two high broad windows on each side of the monumental entrance doorway with its great fanlight above and glazed panels at the side; to similar broad windows on each side of the Palladian window on the second story, the latter window and designed in proportion to the entrance doorway and immediately above it; to dormers in the roof set above the tier of windows on each side of the central apertures; a balustraded platform extending along the ridge of the roof, stopped by chimneys in pairs at each end. Outside the Palladian window above the entrance doorway, a curved balcony of delicate ironwork forms in exquisite detail of the façade and harmonizes with the delicate tracery of ornament woodwork.

A great Palladian window on the north side of the house is a striking feature of the interior, lighting the stairway. The interior is designed with vigor and restraint without over-emphasis of decoration. The long haul from entrance to garden door at the rear is broken by two archways. The fireplaces in the three great rooms on the first floor rival in striking effect the Palladian window of the stairs. A double doorway between the reception room and the living room, reaching the cornice of the 13-foot ceiling, is crowned by an arch in which the fanlight is composed of six concentric arcs, each glazed in panes of different shape, the whole a delicate traceried design. The swinging mahogany doors of comparatively simple paneling are nearly as wide as their height.

Peter Crowding, Philadelphia contractor, constantly supervised the construction and detail of the mansion during the several years of its building (1797 – 1801), and much of the material was brought from Philadelphia. The mason, James Traquair, was also from the Quaker city.

George Read, the younger, native of New Castle, was a jurist who served for 30 years as US District Attorney. John M Clayton, Secretary of State, under President Taylor, lived here for a short time while buildingBuena Vista, several miles south of New Castle.- Delaware - A Guide to the First State, New Castle section, 1938, pg. 249-252.

The house is much as described in the Guide. It was preserved in 1921 by Mr. and Mrs. Philip D Laird and presented to the Historical Society of Delaware in 1975 by the Laird family. The house was restored by the Historical Society of Delaware in 1986. It is operated as a house museum and a fee is charged for admission.

Book: Delaware

Page Number(s) of Excerpt: 249-252

Year Originally Published: 1938

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