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This Historic Wilmington Church Was Salvaged 'Brick by Brick'

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The Little Church in Wilmington may be diminutive in size, but it has a lengthy history. This month, the nonprofit that oversees the historic building is celebrating 100 years of the church being saved from the clutches of development.

The Little Church, built in 1740 at 10th and Market streets in Wilmington, was then known as the First Presbyterian Church. Several members of its congregation were delegates to the Continental Congress. Among other uses, the building served as a hospital after the Battle of the Brandywine and was used as a Sabbath School after a bigger building was constructed.

The Delaware Historical Society renovated it and moved into the Little Church and the Colonial Dames started meeting there in 1895.

During the construction of Rodney Square, the building was purchased by developers and faced demolition.

“The Colonial Dames thought it would be a shame if it were torn down,” says Emily Tepe, the group’s historian.

The Colonial Dames, along with The Society of Colonial Wars Delaware chapter and Pierre S. du Pont, relocated the Little Church in 1918 to public parkland that is now part of Brandywine Park.

“There were some trolley wires that prevented the building to be moved in one piece,” Tepe says. “So it was dismantled brick by brick and reassembled on the banks of the Brandywine.”

The Colonial Dames own and maintain the church as their headquarters. It is open to the public on the second Sunday of each month from 2–4 p.m. April through October. 

On Oct. 14, The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America Delaware chapter invites the public to attend a special two-hour open house.

Tepe says the church is always open by appointment, and also available for weddings and community events.

For more information, visit nscdade.org.

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