Brandywine Springs Resort – ca. 1830

Use this link to see more information on

the article in Delaware History Magazine

In 1982, noted Delaware historian Carol Hoffecker published Wilmington: A Pictorial History. The book inspired me to start photographing Wilmington and made me realize that the buildings I passed every day on the way to the office might not be around in fifty years. Thirty years later, those photographs became the basis for my own book Wilmington: Preservation and Progress.

Her book also introduced me to another location that has also been a subject of intense interest ever since: the mineral springs resort known as Brandywine Springs . Built in 1827, it was one of the country’s first tourism destinations and drew many wealthy families to Delaware in search of better health from its iron laden spring water. Sadly, the original hotel burned down in 1853 after becoming a school.

Efforts to continue the resort’s former fame and awareness resulted in a smaller hotel being created nearby. Details of the original hotel were lost to time as the resort became a popular amusement park in the early 20th century. Today, nothing exists from either hotel and only a few scattered foundations remind visitors of the amusement park era.

After twenty years of research, I was able to reconstruct many architectural details of the first hotel and spring house. That work was presented in a series of lectures and a paper published by the Delaware Historical Society in 2005.

Use this link to learn more about the old hotel at Brandywine Springs.

In 2015, I completed research on the transformation of Brandywine Springs into Delaware’s first “grass roots” state park.  To learn more about how the park developed in the 1950s and to see photos from the Delaware State Archives, click here.