The Judge Morris Estate in Newark, Delaware is part of White Clay Creek State Park. Hugh M. Morris was a native Delawarean, attorney and federal judge and lived in this historic home which dates back to 1790.
His wife, Emma, was instrumental in having the pond installed at the estate.
According to Francis Cooch in “Little Known History of Newark, DE and Its Environs“, there are several dates inscribed on stones on different parts of the house: 1684, 1742 or 1752, and 1777. There is some debate about when the first house was built on the property and who built it, but there is little debate that in 1792 John Barclay built the main 2 ½ story stone home that now sits on the property. In 1808 the property was purchased by Andrew Gray. When the Gray’s moved in, they renamed the property “Chestnut Hill.” The family owned the property for over 50 years. In 1825, the 1 ½ story wing, to the right in the picture below, was added to house a growing number of servants.
In 1849 the property was sold, and except for a short 9year period it was occupied by a number of tenant farmers until 1934. That year Judge Hugh Morris and his wife Emma purchased the property and added an eastern wing that housed a modern kitchen and servant quarters. After Emma and then their daughter Mary’s death, Judge Morris willed the estate to the University of Delaware. In 1966, upon his passing, the university became the last in the line of private owners. In 1998 the State of Delaware purchased the property for 12.5 million dollars. I think the Judge would tell you he never really owned the property, but was more a steward of the great estate. In 2019 the State of Delaware entered into an agreement with Michael Majewski to continue a stewardship of the property that now includes hosting public and private events like weddings, rehearsal dinners, corporate meetings and wreath making as examples.
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