Most Laurel residents, if asked if they are aware of the house on the hill by the mill pond, will respond with “oh, I love that house” or “oh, I’ve always wanted to see inside that house.” These sentiments are shared by the Laurel Historical Society, which has purchased the entire acreage for restoration and development as a living history site right in the heart of the town.
Laurel's iconic Rural Gothic Revival cottage, one of only a handful left in Delaware, will soon take on a new life. The Hitchens Homestead on the Willow Street hill is slated to become a museum celebrating Laurel's agricultural heritage and heyday. The 4.33-acre property, owned and/or occupied by six generations of the Edmund Hitchens family, will be the crown jewel of Laurel's public parklands stretching one-half mile through the center of town on both sides of Broad Creek. It borders Rossakatum Run branch and overlooks Records' Pond.
The 1878 residence and its original outbuildings were constructed by Emanuel Twilley, owner of the pond and its grist mill, which was the largest mill in the state at the time. Also on the premises is a miller's house built before 1868. The dwellings will be furnished to reflect the Twilley and Hitchens occupancies, whereas the outbuildings will focus on farm life and the products of local factories, fields, and forests. Imagine Laurel bustling with baskets, a creek teeming with ships, trains chugging up and down the tracks, and the output of canneries, lumber yards, fertilizer plants, and fruit evaporators going off to Northern markets.
The Hitchens Homestead will be the Laurel community's centerpiece, serving as a backdrop for all types of social, educational, recreational, and cultural events. Although initiated by the society, this is a project for the entire town to get behind. Anyone interested in joining in with this exciting endeavor is encouraged to contact the society at 302 875 1344 and leave a message or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Support the Hitchens Homestead Restoration Project. Your support and contributions will enable us to meet our goals and improve conditions.