Messenger - Vol. 3, No. 3, Page 4
Spring 1994
Works of Progress
Elliott renewed

     Only a little over a year ago, at the head of the Mall on the
main campus, Elliott Hall sat quietly, its concrete front steps
crushed into rubble, shingles askew, barricaded behind a chain link
fence. Pine boards supported its back half. Corroded red bricks were
caked white with mortar and mold.
     Built around 1765, Elliott Hall had been around longer than one
would have expected. But the University didn't think it was quite long
enough, and renovation of the building had begun.
     It was a renovation that involved much restoration of the
building, new home to the Dean's Office and the Advisement Center of
the College of Arts and Science, which were formerly located in
Memorial Hall.
     During the renovation, the outside brick was restored, as was
existing plaster and woodwork within. Most of the flooring was
returned to its original wood and is now covered with area rugs.
Special care also was taken to open and restore the original
fireplaces, one in each room of the original structure, as well as to
rehabilitate the surrounding woodwork and moldings.
     As part of the project, a number of features not in the original
structure were removed, including several interior walls and a porch
at the rear of the structure added in the 19th and 20th centuries.
     In addition, the project involved the construction of a new,
3,500-square-foot wing in place of an ice house deemed unusable. This
new wing contains a main entrance, lobby, office space, basement,
stairwell, an elevator and a handicapped-accessible restroom. Like the
restored part of the structure, the new wing is L-shaped, curving
westward toward what was the old kitchen wing. Nestled inside is a
small, landscaped courtyard.
     In May, the University was cited by the New Castle County
Historic Review Board for "the best adaptive reuse of a historical
building" for its renovation of Elliot Hall.
     Elliott House, then Elliott Building, now Elliott Hall was one of
the first four buildings in Newark, serving variously over its 200-
plus years as a residence, an academic building, a drugstore, Red
Cross headquarters and the post office.
     Historical records suggest that the house was constructed by Hugh
Glassford, a shoemaker, or "cordwainer" as the occupation then was
commonly called. He purchased the land in 1762 at a sheriff's sale.
According to tax assessment documents, the house was built by 1765.
     The practical adaptation of late Georgian style in the building
suggests that the Glassford family was upper-middle class, as was the
family of Alexander McBeath, who is sometimes credited as the builder.
The McBeaths, who acquired the house in 1794, owned slaves and housed
them in the upper portion of the original kitchen wing.
     Glassford and McBeath both served as trustees of Newark Academy,
which was to be closely tied to the state's first institution of
higher education- Newark College, later known as Delaware College and,
with a coordinate Women's College, as the University of Delaware.
Glassford helped purchase land for the academy. The building is named
for John L. Elliott, who owned it in the mid-1800s.
     Between 1850 and 1870, reflecting the popular taste for High
Victorian architecture, a large addition was built on the east side of
the building. The new wing served as a drugstore and a post office.
Also, during the same era, the front porch was added.
     The Elliott Building was not affiliated with the University until
1915, when it was acquired by Delaware College using money donated by
benefactor Pierre S. du Pont. Soon after, from 1917 to 1918, Elliott
became headquarters for Red Cross activities during World War I.
Pictures of the building from that time show a sign on the porch
reading: "Sewing, Knitting, Surgical Dressings. Everybody welcome.
Come and help us."
     Between 1920 and 1950, Elliott served University faculty as an
apartment house. Then, in the mid '50s, it was home to a University
department and a former campus research foundation. Later, the
University's Psychological Services Training Center was moved there.
(The center is now located in renovated Belmont Hall on West Main
     Before the renovation began, bits and pieces of the building's
varied history were collected by University archaeologists.
     Working with a mix of students and volunteers, Wade Catts,
Delaware '81,'88M, a research associate in the University's Center for
Archaeological Research, supervised the operation. According to Catts,
the site was "rich." The crew collected a large array of artifacts,
including pins, needles, buttons, food remains and pottery. Among the
types of pottery were colonoware, redware and creamware, each of which
is indicative of a particular time period and style of living. The
crew also found walkways buried two to three feet below ground.
     And so, with the reopening of Elliott Hall, the campus has a
carefully restored, antique beauty with modern touches, bringing the
building up to current safety codes and meeting the University's
current needs. Importantly, the character and spirit of Elliott
Hall-at home in Newark for more than 200 years-appear revived and
ready for generations of scholars to come.
                                                     -Virginia Andrews