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Blacksmith Shop

Description

Historic District
Yes
Name of Property
Blacksmith Shop - Preservation Forge

Categorical Information

CRS Number
290.51
Tax Parcel
3-35-8.08-54
CRS Type
Commercial Building

38.774594, -75.140152

The Society's Blacksmith Shop was originally located on the west side of Chestnut Street between Third and Fourth Streets. While the history of the house itself is somewhat foggy, it is possible to reconstruct the ownership of that square block of land in Lewes. It is recorded that in 1795 Cornelius Paynter was a Warden of St. Peter's and that four years later in 1799 he loaned the church 20 pounds to pay debts on the courthouse which, with the church lot, was mortgaged to him and several others including Daniel Rodney. Several years later in 1807, part of the land between the public ditch and Fourth Street was sold to Caleb Rodney. In 1810, the mortgage was discharged.

Daniel Rodney purchased the property from Elizabeth and Cornelius Paynter in 1820, although this land could be land between Savannah Road and Market Street. C.H.B. Turner mentions in his Some Records of Sussex County that Fourth Street opened in 1840 and that by 1841 St. Peter's was selling "lotts" on Market Street until Fourth Street. This seems to indicate that St. Peter's owned all the land from the church to Fourth Street although no definitive evidence exists to prove this position.

Returning to the heirs of Daniel Rodney, Henry F. Rodney inherited the land in 1850. The family had received the land from St. Peter's to settle a debt between the church and Rodneys and others for repairs to the courthouse in 1795. The Rodney's still owned the land in 1868 as depicted in the Pomeroy and Beers Atlas of Delaware published that same year. Fourteen years later in 1882 Emily and Louisa Rodney inherited the land from their father, George B. Rodney. Fourteen years after that, Daniel Wolfe bought two acres from Emily and Louisa Rodney. Within the next two years, Daniel Wolfe had died and his son, David W. Wolfe inherited the acreage in 1898 and subsequently subdivided them into building lots.

Unfortunately, there is little mentioned about the house or the land for the next fifty-some years. About 1950, John Howard and Kate Beideman purchased the land and the house the Society terms the Blacksmith Shop from the Marshall family. It is unclear how the Marshall family acquired the land. In 1962 and 1963, The Lewes Historical Society made overtures to the Beideman's to purchase the land and the house and restore it on site. This offer was rejected and instead the Beideman's offered the shop to the Society if it would move it. The Society accepted and moved the building to its present location at the Historic Complex. The name of the house comes from Dr. James E. Marvil, first president of the Society, who believed that a blacksmith had once operated in the building. It is known that a blacksmith did work in that vicinity in the late nineteenth century on Third Street. No clear connection between the building and the blacksmith exists.

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