Brandywine Hundred, Del. – New Castle County has begun repairs to Rockwood Mansion’s roof as part of County Executive Thomas P. Gordon’s commitment to address deteriorating infrastructure in order to maintain the quality of life county residents have enjoyed in northern Delaware.
Though the roof is currently sound, coating the roof will prevent further degradation that could develop into serious structural damage, New Castle County Department of Community Services officials said. The roof color, which was identified in a 1986 paint analysis, will remain unchanged. The cream tone matches the color of the roof as it existed in 1854. The roof was last painted more than ten years ago.
“Rockwood Mansion is one of Delaware’s architectural treasures and the current repair project and others planned for the near future treat it as such,” Gordon said.
Visitors to the Victorian mansion and park can observe the progress as scaffolding is placed, peeling paint on the metal standing seam roof is removed, and rusted panels are coated with a high performance sealant.
Restoration of the Winter Garden is in the planning stages now. The greenhouse-like room on the second story of the mansion requires repairs to the frames and glazing of the roof and north wall.
The third project, larger in scale and complexity than the roof or Winter Garden repairs, is the restoration of the Rockwood conservatory. The Friends of Rockwood are partnering with New Castle County to restore the distinctive cast iron and glass structure. The conservatory was imported from England in the early 1850s when the mansion was being built for Joseph Shipley, a prominent shipping merchant. Parts of the wood structure must be replaced, corroded iron elements repaired, and windows and doors repaired or replaced.
“I want to thank the Friends of Rockwood for their dedication to this historic building,” said Alan J. Matas, Department of Community Services General Manager. “The restoration needs of the conservatory are extensive and the Friends of Rockwood have successfully raised more than half of the nearly $150,000 this project requires."
“The support of community members like the Friends of Rockwood and the excellent project management provided by New Castle County’s Special Services Department mean that the architectural, educational, and cultural value of Rockwood Mansion is preserved for everyone to enjoy,” Matas added.
The Gothic Revival style mansion was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1976. The mansion and the surrounding 72 acres have an historic overlay zoning designation which requires that exterior projects are approved by the New Castle County Historic Review Board.
See photos in pdf file.