Suburban serenity meets city convenience in Wawaset Park. For almost a century, the enclave of some 200 homes in Wilmington has provided its residents with a gracious lifestyle just minutes from downtown.
Wawaset Park was one of two projects—with Union Park Gardens—built during World War I to alleviate the city’s housing crunch. Whereas Union Park Gardens was designed for the blue-collar worker, Wawaset was sponsored by the DuPont Co. for its executives. It sits at Pennsylvania and Greenhill avenues on the former site of Scheutzen Park, a horse racing track and fairgrounds. Modeled after Baltimore’s Roland Park, Wawaset Park was designed by architect E.L. Palmer in the tradition of Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed New York City’s Central Park and Wilmington’s Brandywine Park.
Wawaset is, in effect, a suburb within the city. Streets break with the traditional grid to conform with the natural contours of the land. Courts and circles contribute greenery. Stately trees enhance the beauty overall. The pride of Wawaset, though, lies in its architectural diversity. Home styles range from English Tudor cottages to brick Georgian mansions. The smaller clustered houses contain elements of the then outmoded “picturesque” and Gothic styles. Staggered setbacks further defy conformity.
Reinforcing this sense of community is a variety of social activities designed to draw the residents together. Annual events include a tree-lighting ceremony in Crawford Circle, a holiday market, a spring picnic in Bedford Park and a Halloween parade. New arrivals meet at an annual social sponsored by the trustees.
Residents don’t just buy houses—they make a commitment. “Wawaset Park homes are keepers,” says Michael Porro, Realtor with Long & Foster in Greenville. “People buy starter homes elsewhere, come to Wawaset when they can, then leave when they retire.”
Brandywine Hundred is home to some of Delaware’s most popular and attractive neighborhoods. Most homes are traditional two-story Colonials, though there are exceptions. Rockland Mills, for example, is a gated community of 149 townhome condominiums built on the site of a shuttered paper mill on the Brandywine Creek. Popular 55-plus communities like Springer Woods and The Courtyard at Brandywine have also sprung up in recent years.
The housing stock features a mix of luxury, executive-level enclaves, like the Bancroft-developed Sharpley and Alapocas, with more modest communities such as Fairfax, Blue Rock Manor and Shipley Heights. The area holds hidden gems as well. Fairfax Farms is an elegant—often overlooked—cul-de-sac nestled in the Woodbrook community. North Wilmington is also known for good school districts—Brandywine and Red Clay—and convenience. Residents have easy access to two main arteries. Concord Pike offers a range of shopping and entertainment: Concord Mall and Brandywine Town Center—with an 18-screen movie theater—and scads of strip malls with a variety of shops and restaurants. The Claymont area along Philadelphia Pike is expected to get a boost from new residential development and an expanded commuter train station.
Talley Day Park, the first park to feature a fenced-in dog park in New Castle County, is also home to the Brandywine Hundred Library, the largest and busiest library in the county library system
Better known by beach-bound Washingtonians than many Delawareans, Bridgeville, pop. 1,500-ish, is the oldest town in Western Sussex, and its Mayberry feel continues to charm. Bridgeville offers everything from vintage homes on Delaware Street to more contemporary homes in developments such as Apple Tree Crossing. Many of the buildings are on the register of Historic Places. Older properties in town get a lift from the mini-building boom at the expansive Heritage Shores on U.S. 113. And there is plenty of buildable land in the area. Outdoor recreational opportunities abound. The T.S. Smith & Sons Farm Market is a fun place for both kids and adults. The classic Jimmy’s Grille remains famous for fried chicken and fruit pies.
Trolley Square remains the happening place for nightlife in Wilmington, so that’s where 20- and 30-somethings want to buy. “Almost everybody buying here is a first-time buyer so there’s camaraderie among millenials,” says Michael Porro, a Realtor with Long & Foster in Greenville. “They like living around their own.”
There are places to party, but Trolley Square also has the necessities of daily living. There’s an Acme market, a Walgreen’s pharmacy and Vogue Cleaners, all accessible by foot. Perks include upscale hair salons and fashion-forward boutiques. Dining takes on an international flavor with establishments like El Diablo Burritos, Opa! Opa!, Café Verdi and others. Joggers, power-walkers and dog owners have a choice of two beautiful parks: Rockford or Brandywine.
Housing styles range from small condos to meticulously maintained Queen Anne homes. Wrap all that up in a package that features plenty of mature trees and brick walkways, and you’ve got one of the most beautiful neighborhoods Wilmington has to offer.
It’s not hard to see why CNN’s Money Magazine ranked Pike Creek Valley on its list of the 100 Best Places to Live in the United States. It not only contains the most demographically diverse neighborhoods in Delaware, it boasts a rich variety of housing styles and prices. Pike Creek’s condos, townhomes and detached single-family homes meet the needs of both the newly minted and seasoned professional. Some communities, like North Pointe, offer both townhomes and twins.
That range of choice allows first-time buyers and young families to step up and remain in the area as finances permit. And some communities are well-positioned near the open space of what once was the Pike Creek Golf Club.
Pike Creek is ideally situated so that residents have quick access to employment centers, shopping and entertainment. Carousel Farm and Equestrian Center, White Clay Creek State Park and Middle Run Natural Resources Center provide convenient and ample outdoor recreation.
The Magnolia area offers lots of opportunity when it comes to new and somewhat new homes. Homes in Chestnut Ridge start in the low $200s. Pinehurst offers prices a bit lower. Quail Landing, Laureltown and Riverside are other options, Outdoor recreation abounds. Nearby Milford, Camden and Dover provide shopping, dining and culture.