The one-time textile mill on the
banks of the Brandywine opposite Henry Clay sits on a 10-acre
track off Rising Sun Lane which also includes a two-story,
four-unit building which once served as a residence for mill
workers and a garage. The mill and residential building are
described as abandoned; the garage is used to store equipment
used by a landscape contractor to
maintain the grounds of the Du Pont
Although not open to the public as
an historic or cultural attraction, the mill vies with Rockford
Tower as the most often photographed and painted landmark in the
Wilmington area. The usual view is from Breck's Mill across the
Leigh Johnstone, vice president of
C.B. Richard Ellis, the real estate firm which has the exclusive
sales listing, did not return telephone calls from Delaforum
Presumably, the sale is part of Du
Pont's current belt-tightening moves. The property is a half
mile downstream from where the company was founded 199 years ago
as a gunpowder
Walker's Mill as seen from across the Brandywine.
cover letter of a sales brochure which Delaforum has been able
to obtain, Johnstone suggests that a prospective buyer "would
utilize (sic) the enduring beauty and spectacular location of
Walker's Mill ... perhaps as some of the area's most desirable
Class A++ residential and/or office space."
contained in the brochure is a letter from Wilmington Mayor
James Baker noting that the city would be interested in annexing
the property, which lies just outside its western boundary. Both
City Council and New Castle County Council approval would be
required for that to occur.
brochure said the site would support up to 38,000 square feet of
office space and is properly zoned for that use. Rezoning would
be necessary for residential development but, if obtained, the
likely classification would allow for 14 upscale apartments.
scenario would have to involve renovation and retrofitting of
the existing buildings. Historic and natural-resource
preservation restrictions would preclude any new construction in
the site. The property is listed on the National Register of
to an historic sketch in the brochure, the original mill was
built in 1815 by John Siddall & Co. It was rebuilt around 1848
after a fire and there apparently were several additions made in
subsequent years. Du Pont acquired the property in the
mid-1800s, donated it to the Eleutherian Mills-Hagley Foundation
in 1955 and took it back in a property exchange in 1993.
residential structure -- known as the Walker's Bank building --
also dates from about 1815 and evidently was originally four
town- or rowhouse units occupied by supervisory workers and
their families. There is a six-foot-wide porch running the
length of both sides.
garage was built by Hagley in the 1960s. It stands on a part of
the property where photographs taken in the early years of the
20th Century show three houses standing. Those houses are not
seen in a 1937 aerial photograph.
Except to note that there is no
evidence of soil contamination on the site, the brochure sketch
does not go into what, if any, role the mill or site played in
connection with chemical research at the Du Pont Experimental