A. I. Du Pont Estate, Blue Ball Dairy Barn, Junction of U.S. Route 202 & Rockland Road, Wilmington, New Castle County, DE
Junction of U.S. Route 202 & Rockland Road, Wilmington vicinity, DE
Find maps of Wilmington, DE
Documentation compiled after 1933.
Survey number HABS DE-283-A
Significance: The Blue Ball Dairy barn and milk house were constructed in 1914 as part of the A.I. du Pont estate, known as Nemours. They were part of the estate farm complex, which existed to provide food and dairy products for estate consumption. The barn, milk house, and some sixteen other outbuildings were built to the side and rear of an existing farmhouse, which had originally been the Blue Ball Tavern. Constructed in the early nineteenth century or perhaps even the mid- to late-eighteenth century, the tavern had been converted to a farmhouse in the 1850s. From 1914 until the mid-1930s to early 1940s, the farm complex serviced the estate. In 1943, the farm was leased to Harvey and Ruthford Gooden, father and son dairy farmers, who paid rent to the estate but whose dairy produce was sold to outside parties. In 1977, Ruthford Gooden left the farm, shortly after which the farmhouse and most of the outbuildings were demolished. Only the barn and milk house remain. In 1983, the property was sold to the current owner. It is no longer considered part of the Nemours estate. Due to the presence of the Blue Ball Tavern, the area has historically been known as Blue Ball. The name continued in use even after the Nemours estate was built, with Alfred I. du Pont's farm complex known by many as the Blue Ball Dairy. ... The Blue Ball Dairy barn and milk house are significant for three reasons. First, they stand as survivors of the American country house movement, especially in the stately homes type of architectural design practiced in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This type stresses adherence to the principles of the Ecole des Beaux Arts with an understanding of current advances in building technology. Its architects designed large, ostentatious estates for the wealthy elite of business and industry. These estates often included agricultural areas, which not only serviced the estate but also served to depict the owner as a member of the landed gentry, who was able to pursue the leisure activities of gentleman farming, horse and livestock breeding, and horticulture. Second, the barn and milk house serve as examples of the changes in agriculture, and specifically in dairying, that were sweeping through society in the early twentieth century. These changes dealt with cleanliness and milk production and had a great impact on the design of farm buildings. Third, the barn and milk house reflect the personality of Alfred I. du Pont, specifically his interests in du Pont family history, historical matters generally, and modern technology. While not preeminent examples, nevertheless the barn and milk house are fine representatives of their type and period.
Historic American Buildings Survey (Library of Congress)
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