New Castle, Delaware
Community History and Archaeology Program
George Read (II) And His House
The elegant, well maintained and welcoming George Read (II) house is perhaps the "Crown Jewel" in the
historic area treasures of New Castle. Wolcott's readable master's thesis provides many interesting details and insights from the man, the conditions under which he designed and built the house, financing challenges ...
by Eliza Wolcott, University of Delaware (1971)
- The Philadelphia orientation of both George Read (II) and his father, the latter having perhaps drawn the plans available here, and suggestions by his brother-in-law in Philadelphia.
- The mixture of Georgian layout and Federal decorative treatments.
- His very busy law practice. When court was in session "he was unable to attend to even the most pressing of his business affairs...construction of his house.."
- Lots of money coming in, and going out for house construction.
- The minute level of detail of the account books: stone for the wharf, rum for the workmen, brick laying ...
- The deprecating naming convention for African-American workers: Negro Peter, Negro London, Negro Richard.
- The Inventory, with details of material possessions and values-- chairs, identified paintings,
contents of his library
Plan B, and an overlay of the plan in magenta on a 2012 aerial image. The plan, according to Wolcott, is in George Read Sr.'s handwriting, and shows not only the floor plan of the planned house, but the "old Read D[well]ing with its kitchen in the back, and to the far left a "chaise[? carriage] house to be removed". Click on images to enlarge.
The kitchen area near the left oval part of the "parterre garden" was the site of a 1996 excavation.
Jim Meek, NC-CHAP, 2014