Preserving History

by Dave on October 15, 2009

An nineteenth-century home, once the centerpoint for hundreds of acres of local farmland, is being restored and renovated to become the new home of the Sussex County Land Trust. The Wolfe House, located at the end of Wolfe Neck Road between Lewes and Rehoboth Beach, was constructed in 1875, according to the University of Delaware. In fact, records of the Wolfe family date back to 1715.

The home sits now on state parkland adjacent to the Junction and Breakwater Trail, the path that connects Rehoboth Beach and Lewes along an old railroad trestle. Adjacent to the property is the 56-car parking lot, restrooms, information center and bike rack for the trail.

A 2004 University of Delaware report described the property:

“The house is of frame construction, with a brick foundation. There is no cellar underneath the house. The exterior walls exhibit two layers of sheathing: a modern coat of asbestos
shingles applied directly over the earlier layer of wood shingles painted white. The gable roof is covered in asphalt shingles. The roof is accented by a simple box cornice on the
long elevations, with returns on both gable ends. The corners are detailed with five-inch flat corner boards. Both the northeast and southwest gable ends have two square attic story windows flanking the interior end chimneys. The southwest gable end has two additional six-over-six-light double-hung sash windows flanking the chimney on the first floor.”

Matthew Peterson of Element Design Group, which donated design services for the project, said it was important to retain the character of the original structure.

“The whole idea was that the Wolfe House itself would be taken back to what it would have looked like in its original state,” said Peterson. “In addition we changed the floor plan a little bit and added a cleaned-up look to the building.”

The Sussex County Land Trust is a nonprofit which has worked with government at the county, state and federal level to preserve over 5,202 acres in Sussex County. Many of those purchases involve farmland not too different from the original Wolfe Farm.  So there is a great deal of symmetry between the work of the Land Trust and the location of their new home, scheduled to be completed in October.

This article first appeared in Coastal Sussex Weekly, August 13, 2009.

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