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Kenton Town, Kent County, DE

Aspendale, Kenton DE

Photo: Aspendale, circa 1771-1773, located on Route 300 (Clayton Road), Kenton. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1970. Photographed by Jack E. Boucher, 1982, Historic American Buildings Survey [HABS DE-143-28], memory.loc.gov, accessed December, 2022.

Aspendale was built by Charles Numbers; started in 1771 and finished in 1773. Nearby is the old "brick hole" (now a small marshy pond) whence was due; the clay for the bricks to be used for the three-bay, two-story-and-attic house of Georgian quality. Apart from plan, it might be classified as restrained Middle Georgian with some Early Georgian elements, and a venture or two into the future.

The Flemish-bond brickwork of the south and north fronts is of admirable quality, and it, is worth noting that two courses of moulded bricks cap the water table instead of the more usual single course, A belt course,-five bricks in width with the three middle courses recessed, imparts effective accent to the south and north fronts. By way of contrast, the east and west ends of the house with their twin chimneys coupled by short curtain walls, are stuccoed. When the house was completed in 1773s the ridge of the roof was slightly flattened, covered with lead, made into a deck between the pairs.of chimneys, and. enclosed with a balustrade. During the Revolutionary War} the lead was required for bullets. The balustrade was then removed, and the shingled roof given its present form.

The one-story-and-attic frame wing, at the west end, is a good instance of the frequent Delaware habit of having a frame wing on axis with the main body of the house. It is older than the rest of the house just how much it is impossible to say, but the particulars of construction indicate that it was already standing when the brick structure was erected. It is certainly of much earlier type the one-room, fireplace and winding stair type, only, in this case, instead of a winding stair, a ladder gave access to the big chamber.above. The previous presence of the wing may, perhaps, have determined the plan of the 1771 building.

When Charles Numbers built his house, he adopted the "Quaker plan" William Penn had advocated in 1684. Georgian methods were confined to the exterior and to the appointments of the interior. The parlour was the one big room; the partition "near the middle" divided "one end of the house into two small Rooms," the hall and the study (formerly a dining-room). The frame wing was the "added" room and became the kitchen. Aspendale affords the best instance in Delaware of what can be unquestionably identified as the "Quaker plan."

As to the appointments of the interior, the whole east or fireplace side of the parlour is handsomely paneled, with china cupboards in the same manner, and a robust wooden cornice. There is the same admirable paneling upstairs.

So much for the Georgian-interior dressing of a "Quaker plan" house — the woodwork, most of it, of far earlier pattern than the actual date of the house* In all likelihood, the joiner employed had learned his trade under his grandfather and was. loath to live up time-honoured practices. Instances of the same thing occur in plenty of other houses.

Aspendale is one of the comparatively small number of old Delaware houses that have never passed from possession by the families of the original builders, and have been continuously lived-in by them. (As of 1960) The present owner is the great-great-grandson of the builder.- The house Charles Numbers built in 1771 has, therefore, escaped such maltreatment as changes in ownership so often caused, and likewise the neglect and abuse incident to absentee landlordism.

The various dependencies, farm buildings and old lanes and divisions between the fields have never been changed, and although there have been renewals and additions about the barn, Aspendale and its plantation surroundings are virtually the same as when Charles Numbers finished his brick house in 1773. The place is a living example of a prosperous Kent County farmstead in the last quarter of the eighteenth century.

† Historic American Buildings Surver, DEL-143, Aspendale (Charles Numbers House), Division of Design and Construction, Philadelphia, PA, www.loc.gov, accessed December, 2022.

Street Names
Clayton Road • Route 300