Scenic USA - Delaware

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Allee House

Allee House - Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Delaware

Photos by Ben Prepelka

     Stretching out for eight miles along Delaware Bay, Bombay Hook is one of the important wildlife refuges along the eastern migratory route or Atlantic Flyway. Including upland forests, freshwater ponds and one of the largest tidal marshes in the mid-Atlantic region, the refuge is key stop for millions of migrating songbirds and shorebirds. The refuge also protects area deer, red fox, beavers and hundreds of insect, amphibian and reptile species.
     One of the surprises on this huge coastal refuge is the 18th century Allee House. Following a local vernacular style, the brick home is also noted as a fine example of early Delaware plantation architecture.
     Escaping religious persecution in Europe, the Allee family was thought to have emigrated from Artois, France. Known as the Woodstock Bower, John Allee's initial Delaware land tract was purchased in 1706. Allee bought subsequent land parcels, adding to the original 600 acre tract. Totaling about two thousand acres, most of the land was used to grow tobacco. Following Johnís death in 1718, sons Abraham and Peter and sisters Hannah and Mary inherited the Allee House Well, Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, DEplantation acreage. Abraham received the eastern section of the plantation property, the Woodstock Bower, and ultimately controlled his father's entire plantation. Here, the prominent Kent County resident built a two story farm house in 1753. Totaling nearly 1000 square feet, the house featured fine brick-work laid in a Flemish bond. The interior was decorated in wood paneling, detailed cornices and arched china closets. The kitchen was added sometime before 1790, followed by a barn, ice house and smokehouse.
     Today, tours of the Allee house have been suspended due to its deteriorated condition. With repairs estimated at 1.1 million dollars, the Friends of Bombay Hook initially hope to raise enough funds to save the house from collapse. The Friends have launched a fund raising and public awareness campaign, focusing on quick remediation and ultimately a complete refurbishment.

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