Background Research Documents of Interest

  • It provides a golden opportunity for a museum which engages the public and promotes our community with all types of social, educational, recreational, and cultural activities.
  • The property is located on a pristine 4.3-acre lake view/stream-front site.  
  • Creates a destination along the Ramble
  • Enhances our image as a community caring about its historic buildings
  • Provides a reason to come to Laurel
  • Promotes  a sense of pride and satisfaction in saving one of Delaware's small wonders
  • Allows us to take advantage of the 30% tax credit
  • It affords the Laurel Historical Society an excellent means to fulfill its mission.

"Little house on the hill" to be restored

The Hitchens Homestead Museum:

              The Laurel Community's Centerpiece

Laurel Historical Society Acquires 

Hitchens Homestead

Images of this historic property

(Click photos to enlarge)

    Most Laurel residents, if asked if they are aware of the house on the hill by the mill pond, will respond with “oh, I love that house” or “oh, I’ve always wanted to see inside that house.”    These sentiments are shared by the Laurel Historical Society, which has purchased the entire acreage for restoration and development as a living history site right in the heart of the town.    

     Laurel's iconic Rural Gothic Revival cottage, one of only a handful left in Delaware, will soon take on a new life.  The Hitchens Homestead on the Willow Street hill is slated to become a museum celebrating Laurel's agricultural heritage and heyday.  The 4.33-acre property, owned and/or occupied by six generations of the Edmund Hitchens family, will be the crown jewel of Laurel's public parklands stretching one-half mile through the center of town on both sides of Broad Creek.  It borders Rossakatum Run branch and overlooks Records' Pond. 

     The 1878 residence and its original outbuildings were constructed by Emanuel Twilley, owner of the pond and its grist mill, which was the largest mill in the state at the time.  Also on the premises is a miller's house built before 1868.  The dwellings will be furnished to reflect the Twilley and Hitchens occupancies, whereas the outbuildings will focus on farm life and the products of local factories, fields, and forests.  Imagine Laurel bustling with baskets, a creek teeming with ships, trains chugging up and down the tracks, and the output of canneries, lumber yards, fertilizer plants, and fruit evaporators going off to Northern markets.

   The Hitchens Homestead will be the Laurel community's centerpiece, serving as a backdrop for all types of social, educational, recreational, and cultural events.  Although initiated by the society, this is a project for the entire town to get behind.  Anyone interested in joining in with this exciting endeavor is encouraged to contact the society at info@laureldehistoricalsociety.org  or call 302-875-1344 and leave a message.    More information and photos coming to the Society website soon!

 How this will benefit the town of Laurel: