There is a park near my home that I take my walks in these mornings. It is a nice place, but I would much prefer the more rugged trails and challenges of traipsing through more rugged plays, such as Brandywine Creek State Park or Delawares newly designated National Park. It is ironic that Delaware, the First State was the last to get a National Park, but ironic that Delaware, the First State was the last to get a National Park, but so be it.
The former Woodlawn Trustees Lands went to the Feds a couple years ago to become, along with a couple other sites, as our National Park. The name is a bit confusing. It is either the First State National Monument Park or the First State National Historical Park. At least they did not name it after some politician. It is a small wonder in itself they didn't name it the Joseph Blabbermouth Biden National Park. Okay, that is about as curmudgeon that we're going to get.
My disease has pretty well now restricted me to the paved paths and less challenging trails of Rockwood Museum Park, a beautiful New Castle County Park. This land was once the estate of one Joseph Shipley, born in Wilmington, Delaware in 1795, immigrated to London England in 1823 and make his fortune as a Merchant Banker. In purchased land near Wilmington to be his retirement estate and built Rockwood there from 1851-1854. He died in 1867. (Young Joseph Shipley on the right.)
The estate went to his sisters, Hanna and Sarah. When Hannah died, Joseph's niece Sarah Bringhurst bought it. After her demise it was inherited by her son, Edward Bringhurst, Jr., and then to Edward's daughter Mary, who died at the age of 100. Mary's niece, Nancy Sellers Hargraves inherited and in 1973 she donated the estate to New Castle County, whose governing body restored the estate in 1999. Now spending several years hiking about this place brought to my mind recently an idea involving the several oval markers on the grounds. These described a bit about the sites they marked and displayed some old photos as well. I decided to take new photos and compare the old to the new. I discovered not too much had actually changed, even though most of the pictures were well over one hundred years old. Here then are those comparisons. I have added some more material to what I posted on Facebook recently.
Let's begin with the ha-ha. Heh-heh, what the ho-ho is a ha-ha? Well, that's a joke on you if you are a
"A ha-ha is a recessed landscape design element that creates a vertical barrier while preserving an uninterrupted view of the landscape beyond.
The design includes a turfed incline which slopes downward to a sharply vertical face, typically a masonry retaining wall. Ha-has are used in landscape design to prevent access to a garden, for example by grazing livestock, without obstructing views."
The picture on the left is the South Lawn ha-ha photographed in 2003. I can't believe they couldn't find some antique snapshot of the ha-ha, but apparently they couldn't. The photo on the left is my picture taken this past week of the same location.
This picture, showing the corner of the mansion beyond the ha-ha below the north lawn. It was taken in 2002.
I took my shot from approximately the same place, but mine shows a lot of tall trees had grown up in the meantime.
In my picture is a gazebo in the field that didn't exist in 1920. However, that stone structure on the left once held a gazebo that the Bringhurst Family constructed in 1910. Those stone steps were not there in 1920, but since that time the ground has been built up and far less of the stone structure shows today.
The gazebo is gone from the top of that stone structure. It hasn't been there in my time. Up until a couple years ago there was around the flat top of the old gazebo base a sort of ornate cast iron fence, much like the small one picture nearby in front of some kind of shoot.
If you look up at the 1920 photo of the vista you will notice a farmhouse standing down a bit in the field. In my recent snapshot that house is gone, but perhaps the base remains next to that purple blossomed bush.
In the old photo here on the left we see the building that was concerned to Edward's Playhouse. The little boy sitting by the corner reading a book is Edward Bringhurst III and the photo was taken in 1895.
I believe when you look at the Scenic Vista photo from the past you are seeing the old Weldin home there in the middle of the field.
Once upon the time, the main entrance to the estate was east of Edward's Playhouse. It is no longer used for that purpose, but the wall and the gate across the drive all still exist. This is how it looked in 1900. The building on the left is called the ledge. It also still stands.
This is the structure they called the Lodge. The man standing on the steps is unidentified. He may have been the gatekeeper, for this little house was the gatekeeper's home.
The lodge today has a sign on the door says it is a private residence, no trespassing. I have seen inside and there is nothing inside but dust. Otherwise it hasn't changed its outside looks.
For a couple of years the had an empty police car parked down near the lodge. It was moved once in a while. Someone told me it was an old model. They had been having some problems with car breaking on the parking lots at the time, like this dummy police car was going to scare any crooks away. It was taken away earlier this year.
Speaking of crooks and bad people, I am always very aware of my surrounding when I am out. I am very caution if anything looks out of place. Lately I have been keeping my eye on a car whose driver was acting suspicious to my mind. This car would drive into the Carriage House parking lot when I was in that vicinity in the morning. It would com slowly, then stop in the middle of the drive, sit there for awhile, then drive a bit further, stop again, over and over. It would drive out the lane, go up by the mansion and then exit, all the time stopping, waiting then driving little further to repeat. There was an older man, too, who often walked through the park in the same manner. I notice he constantly looked down at something he held.
I began to think they were some kind of security, but could not figure out what thy were checking out. It made me a bit nervous. A couple times the car driver would pull into the lot, park, get out and walk up a path into the woods. A short time he would return and then drive off in his idd manner. I thought maybe he was going up in the woods because he had to urinate.
This morning I solved the mystery. I had finished my walk and was sitting in my car when this fellow
The photograph is from about 1900. The two women aren't identified. They may be the Bringhurst sisters.
I tried to get the picture of the cottage as it now is from the same angle. I'm a bit off, but close enough.
I couldn't get any women or dogs to pose as models for me, though.
To be continued.