and two outbuildings, at the intersection of Philadelphia Pike
and Naamans Road at the northern end of Claymont, have been
prominent landmarks since Colonial times. The original part of
the house dates to 1723 and was the home of Thomas Robinson, a
general on the staff of 'Mad Anthony' Wayne during the
Revolutionary War. George Washington is definitely known to have
acquired the property in the 1970s after it had been abandoned
for several years and has leased it for a token dollar a year to
the Naamans Kill chapter of the Questers, an international
women's organization with an interest in history and antiques.
Because of the chapter's aging and declining membership, that
arrangement "no longer appears to be an effective strategy for
achieving the shared goals of preservation and public use,"
consultant Patricia Aden stated in a report now circulating
among Claymont-area activists.
Representative David Brady, who arranged for the division to be
appropriated money to determine the property's future, could not
be reached for comment as this story was being prepared.
concludes in her report that there is considerable support for
the idea of preserving the house and outbuildings and putting
them to appropriate use. "While there is little evidence of a
demand for the private (commercial) use of the building, there
appears to be a growing need to use the Robinson House by the
Claymont community. ... Individuals and organizations are
attempting to rekindle community pride by celebrating the area's
history and encouraging economic development," she wrote.
property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Philadelphia Pike was the main highway between Wilmington and
Philadelphia,. the house was a popular commercial restaurant
known as Naamans Tea House. Now somewhat isolated and located
amid industrial properties, and lacking the facilities to match
present dining establishment standards, such a use is no longer
practical. The consultant's report notes, however, that the
Questers were successful years ago in making it available for
holiday parties, receptions and similar functions.
viable uses nowadays, it concludes, would be tours,
educational events, small meetings and possibly the site for the
long-sought community museum.
report refers to "apparent lack of maintenance," deterioration
of the portico which was added in 1`915 and is the main
building's signature feature, and a general public impression as
the result of the property's outward appearance that it is
closed; but also notes that the main building is in generally
good condition. It does not, however, provide any estimate of
what it might cost to give it a new lease on life.
recommended new organization would be formed by representatives
of interested organizations, including the Claymont Historical
Society, who would come up with a budget, rental schedule and a
"strategic plan outlining key goals and objectives" along with
proposed fundraising, management and public relations