Brief History of the Terry House

Historic New Castle, Delaware

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Terry House Bed and Breakfast - Historic New Castle, Delaware, Del., DE

In 1851, Howell J. Terry, prominent resident of New Castle, bought for $1600 from Elizabeth and Lorenzo Thomas the 61-foot lot on Delaware Street with one house on it, the original brick house #200, now Berties Bags. From the earliest records, which go back to the Dutch period and extend to the present, there is no mention of any building or house on the site of the present 130 Delaware Street until after Howell Terry bought the property.

Howell Terry began to build his house just before the Civil War of 1860. The construction was interrupted by the war, but he finished it soon afterward. In 1865, Terry sold the brick house #200 with a 23-foot lot, for $2500.

In 1861, when the war stopped construction, Howell J. Terry was cashier of the New Castle branch of the Farmers Bank at the corner of the Strand and Delaware streets, and lived in that house while he was building his new one. He died at 130 Delaware Street in 1874, leaving the house to his wife, Rebecca Jane Pippin Terry and his children. In 1916, Howell Terry's heirs sold the building to the New Castle Century Club.

Architects regard the Terry House as impressive, and Federal in architectural style, characteristic of its period, the middle 1800's — that of 1859-1865, when it was built.

The building is on part of the Thomas Allet to Joseph Hill property, which was sold by the heirs of Mary Hill to Dr. Henry Colesberry in 1809. Dr. Colesberry bought 61 feet along Delaware Street containing the brick house #200, and so far as records and traditions tell, the remainder of the plot was vacant along the street, but may have had a shop or other buildings at the rear. The Deed, after conveying the house (#200) and lot, adds, "together with all and singular houses, buildings, gardens, fences…", the usual phrasing in deeds for house and out-buildings, but may include dwellings of lesser importance the main house.

In 1826, Howell Terry sold #200 to Maria R. Booth. He kept the remainder of the plot and built the present house. The Terry heirs sold the property to the New Castle Century Club in 1916 for $3,000. The building had not been kept in good repair, but was too well built to need major renewal. The mothers and grandmothers of present-day persons [1923] in New Castle are quoted as saying that enough bricks went into the house to build a whole row; and as all the work was done by the day under supervision of the owner, its cost was excessive.

The New Castle Century Club was organized in 1914 by a group of women interested in civic improvement and the cultural advancement of its members. 111 members were enrolled as charter members. The lower story of the Terry House was used for club purposes, and the second and third floors were made into apartments. An iron railing was placed  on the front steps.

The Club included in their programs current events, literary speakers, musical performances, health topics, civic topics, etc. They sponsored many school-related activities, including a travelling library before the establishment of a school library. They sponsored the planting of trees on the nearby roads. During World War I, they provided support for the Red Cross, had surgical dressing classes, and sponsored Americanization classes for the West End school (now St. Anthony's Club). In World War II, the club rooms were used in the war effort with bandage rolling, nutrition classes, first aid training, and civil defense meetings. In 1951 the Club sold the building due to high costs of maintenance and moved to smaller quarters on Fourth Street. George and Bessie Williams purchased the building for $25,000. It was used as their residence and as a rooming house.

The house was purchased in 1985 and renovated into the current arrangement as a Bed and Breakfast. The house is the same on the exterior as it was originally built, with the exception of a row of windows on the 4th floor at the back. The first floor and stairwell are in original condition. The kitchen has been modernized, and the guest rooms have been altered to include private baths. A small guest room on the second floor has built-in cabinets that were installed for the kitchen, and that was part of one of the apartments when the building was the Century Club.

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The Terry House Bed and Breakfast
Historic New Castle, Delaware
Lena Deemer, Innkeeper
130 Delaware Street   -  New Castle, DE 19720
Phone: 302-322-2505
website: www.terryhouse.com

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