Spring Garden, the National Register property located at 10905 Delaware Avenue Extended, Laurel, will be the site of a homecoming party on Sunday, September 23, 2018, at 1 p.m. The celebration commemorates the return to Laurel of a tall case clock after an absence of nearly 90 years. Sponsored by the Laurel Historical Society, the event is free and is open to the public.
The late-18th - early-19th-century house is the only surviving early brick structure in southwestern Sussex County. Also on the premises is a rare 19th-century barn, once home to the Spring Garden Dairy. Last open to the public in 1989, the older section of the house will be available for tours and a small display of Spring Garden-related items will be on hand.
The Spring Garden tract is recorded as early as 1768 when it belonged to John Mitchell. Ownership passed to John Creighton in 1782, when the oldest section of the present dwelling was probably built. But here's where the real story begins: on May 14, 1814, Spring Garden was purchased by Kendall Major Lewis and remained in the hands of his descendants for the next 138 years until May 26, 1952.
The clock whose return to Laurel is being celebrated belonged to Kendall Lewis at Spring Garden and has recently been presented to the society by his great-great-granddaughter, Rosalind Williams, of Newton, Mass. For this one day, the timepiece will once again stand sentry in the house where it resided for over a century. It will be joined by other Williams gifts, also from Spring Garden: 4 early 19th-c. Windsor side chairs and the 1789 Kendall Lewis family bible.
Lewis, a Nanticoke River and Chesapeake Bay ship captain, bought Mitchell's Harbor, a tract on which stands present-day Bethel, in 1794. From his wharf, he laid out the village in the 1840s and established a profitable trade with Baltimore, Annapolis, and the West Indies. The father of 21 children, Kendall Lewis was elected 7 times to the Delaware legislature.
At his father's death in 1862, Henry Clay Lewis became the next owner of both the clock and Spring Garden. A prosperous and community-minded farmer and dairyman, Henry Clay was also president of Laurel's Peoples National Bank, where it has been said that he would preside over bank board meetings in his bib overalls after having ridden up the Delaware Avenue hill from Spring Garden on his mule. The Victorian addition to the house was built during his tenure. His memory lives on in the spectacular stained glass window overlooking Market Street at Centenary Church.
Warren Kendall Lewis, Henry Clay's only offspring, inherited the farm and clock at his father's death in 1931. Having grown up at Spring Garden, Warren graduated from Laurel High School and went on to Boston's Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he later became a professor and engaged in such ground-breaking work as the Manhattan Project's secretive development of the atomic bomb during World War II. He is today credited as the father of American chemical engineering.
Giving remarks at 1:30 p.m. will be the donor of these objects, Warren's grand-daughter, herself a now-retired professor and dean of students at MIT. She will be discussing her book Retooling and the impact a small-town farm upbringing had on her grandfather and the influence he had on her own life. According to her grandfather, Rosalind gave her own daughter the prettiest name ever: Laurel.
Bring a lawn chair to sit under the shade at Spring Garden and experience this rare opportunity to re-imagine old Laurel for a brief shining moment.
Come Join Us for this Historic Dedication
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