Interview with Willard Graham Crichton, Jr. and Patsy Crichton, 1985 March 6 [audio](part 1)
- Getting to and from the Belin House; Father's work for DuPont; Restoring the Belin House; Belin house floorplanKeywords: Belin House (Greenville, Del.); Chimneys; Floorplans; Floors; Free Park (Del.: Village); Remodeling; Restoration; World War (1914-1918)Transcript: McKelvey: What did they call that area when you were living there, by the way?
Crichton (Willard): I'm not sure it had a name. I do know that it was often referred to as Free Park, which was the area on top of the hill on the road that ran along from Christ Church over to the road that goes up the hill. That road was not really open at the time we moved there which was in the spring of 1924. In fact, the only way you could get to the place at all was coming straight down the hill, and there's a vestage of a road there, but it was really primitive. And since has been overgrown. As I told you on the telephone -- and I might as well repeat it since you might want it done here -- my father worked for the duPont Company during the First World War and was a line supervisor of some sort in a mill near Pompton Lakes which made smokeless powder. He got -- he became ill and was assigned to doing work that is now mostly done by duPont's General Services Department. The War ended and he was moved to Wilmington and assisted in at least part of the close-down of the black powder mills. As such, he had occasion to travel up and down and through and back and forth and he spotted the Belin house. Which you call the Belin house.
McKelvey: I'll stick to that.
Crichton (Willard): We called it Skunk Hall. The reason we called it Skunk Hall was because when we moved there, it was in the spring and there were vegetation all around and the place hadn't really been cleared and there were lots of skunks. Wake up in the night and smell skunk. And the family still refers to it that way. So, in the early '20's, my father found this house and didn't want to live in the middle of a city and thought that country living would be perfectly smashing and at that time, as you know, the members of the duPont family purchased sections of the mill properties from the duPont Company and the area in which this was located, of course, was on the fringe --or the boundary of Mrs. Charles Copeland's property. Now, Mrs. Copeland was a very close friend of my grandmother. In fact, she was instrumental in starting the establishment of the Delaware Society for the Fine Arts which later became the Delaware Art Museum. It was done early in the century after my grandfather died. Mrs. had a very strong friendship all her life and so it was no great trouble for my father to ask Mrs. Copeland if she would fix the joint up and he would rent it. So, she got a contractor out there and I believe the contractor knew a good thing when he saw one. The price was pretty frightening so she said we can't do it. So, my father said, "Can I get my contractor in there and see if I can shave this and shave that and come up with a better figure?" She said to go ahead. So, he did. And he got the whole thing fixed up and liveable for $5,000. Which was a tidy sum in those days, but Mrs. Copeland fell for that one and said, "Go ahead. You do the work and I'll rent it to you."
McKelvey: What sort of work needed to be done?
Crichton (Willard): Well, the building was standing. The foundations were absolutely good, perfect.
McKelvey: How old were you at that time?
Crichton (Willard): I was six when we moved in. Well, between '24 and '26, I developed a large, quick personal friendship with Mrs. Copeland because she toured the place all the time. I would come home from school and she would take me all through and show me what things were which was very interesting. Of course, at that age your memory is vivid. I've digressed. What was wrong with the house? Or, what was right with it? Well, structurally, it was perfectly sound. As you know, the sills, the framing, even the shingle lathe made out of local oak. It was tougher than goat guts. As a matter of fact -- I'll tell you another story about the last roof we put on the house. Largely, there was no electricity. There was not too -- I think the plumbing was inadequate. The floors had holes in them. It was just generally a wreck because nobody had been living in it for some time. I do remember that you had to tread very wearily lest you end up in the cellar. So, there were lots of boards that needed to be replaced. Aside from the electricity, the worse thing going for it was the condition of the windows and plaster. Either aging or explosions -- we assume -- and explosions on several occasions had weakened the keys and the plaster that held up to the lathe and great sections of it were either missing -- and I remember one in the dining room --it was a huge thing, a semi-circle -- you had to duck to walk underneath it.
McKelvey: Were the walls wallpapered?
Crichton (Willard): I do not remember. I do know that in two, three – at least three rooms they had the pressed tin ceilings. Which you probably found, anyway. The dining room had it. No, the dining room did not. The dining room had a paper-like material similar to wallboard. Thin but with lathe battens.
McKelvey: With a decoration?
Crichton (Willard): No decoration, no. And the assumption was, of course, that plaster which keeps crumbling off the wall wouldn't stay on the ceiling too well so there was a lot of tin. I think what Joe Monigle called the Victorian Wing. I don't know whether it had any in there or not, but I believe it didn't. Let's see, what else had to be done to the house?
McKelvey: You mentioned on the phone that apparently there was a special kind of window used.
Crichton (Willard): Yeah. Most of the windowpanes were, of course, glass but they had chicken wire embedded in the glass and this was nicely shatterproof. Or as nicely shatterproof as you could make in those days and still see through it. And most of the glass was that and we made no attempt to replace it until it broke. It stayed there. The house, by the way, was painted yellow, when we moved in, and I believe it is now yellow. We went to white later on --white with green shutters. Probably somebody fell under the influence of the Columbian Exposition, undoubtedly. The roofs were leaky and they had to be fixed. There were two sections that had seamed tin. One was in the center section of the main, original building and the other one was on the porch in front. Those were the only two pieces of seamed tin. The rest was all shingled. And leaky. Chimneys were a distinct problem. We were never able to burn a fire in any one of the fireplaces because of the fear of a fire. If you burned a fire in the fireplace and went upstairs, you could smell smoke coming out of the walls. The alternative, of course, was to rip the wall down and put flu liners in and pop was operating on a shoestring. So, he fixed up two chimneys -- one for the furnace which was the chimney at the end of the Victorian Wing; the other was the chimney for the kitchen for the kitchen stove and that probably still is the kitchen. It might as well be. It's a perfect place for it. So, that one which was the pair of chimneys that matched -- one on the Victorian Wing and one on this what I assume was a later addition to the original building. So, those two flues were fixed. The others -- there were one, two, three fireplaces in the center of the building.
McKelvey: In one stack or ?
Crichton (Willard): In one stack -- three flues. Back-to-back, dining room and living room and then one upstairs in the bedroom. I found that one.
McKelvey: Yes. That's in the older section.
Cricthton: That's right.
McKelvey: That still survives.
Crichton: I didn’ t draw you a map. I can draw you a sketch here. To show what I'm talking about. The house was, according to my suspicion, one piece like this. This wing was added on at some time. And then the Victorian Wing added here. This, then, became our hallway and the door in the front. This was -- this separation was about here --this wall and there was a fireplace here and I believe there was a fireplace in here, and one just above this in this room above here. I don't know, but we never did and my recollection does not permit one in this room which was obviously the largest bedroom. We managed to take this section upstairs and this, of course, was the stairway then that led up to the third floor and we put a bathroom in here. This was another bedroom. I don't know whether this had a fireplace or not. I know this one did. I know that had a fireplace. This had a pantry here and this was the door down to the cellar under here and -- I've drawn too much of that because this staircase to the second floor went up to a landing and turned and came back up again. I understand the stairway is still there. We used to slide down the damn banister. Great fun.
- Outbuildings; The house interior; The area around the Belin HouseKeywords: Belin House (Greenville, Del.); Brandywine Manufacturers' Sunday School; Cellars; Chicken houses; Coal; Fences; Free Park (Del.: Village); Orchards; Pigeon lofts; StorageTranscript: Crichton (Patsy): And the wash house.
McKelvey: We'll go down and take a look in a little while.
Crichton (Willard): There were two French doors in here and, of course, the double set of windows here and a single window here. Or, was it double? Don't remember. It faced another window in the kitchen here. It had a back door and a little window there, washtub, sinks and we had a big, brick hearth and we had a nice, old iron woodstove. It didn't burn wood, though; we burned coal. Heated it in the winter.
McKelvey: Where did you store your coal?
Crichton (Willard): In the cellar. It was a job. We burned anthracite coal and the coal men would come down and park their truck here, go through, go underneath, go all the way around here and underneath this part and that was the coalbin. They had to walk with bags on their shoulders. There was no way to get down there because there was no opening. And here sat the furnace.
McKelvey: I wouldn't have done it that way.
Crichton (Willard): Well, I wouldn't have, either.
McKelvey: That's a lot of work. This is the downhill side?
Crichton (Willard): This is the downhill side.
McKelvey: What outbuildings do you remember around this structure?
Crichton (Willard): Let me redraw, then. My scale is wrong. Let's take the road down from the top of the hill. And here's your Sunday School here. And the springhouse.
McKelvey: Were there any privys associated with the Sunday School?
Crichton (Willard): No. I don't remember any privys on this road down here and this had been widened out to some extent. This was the barn -- a two-story barn where they kept their cart. This path led up the hill to the Bradford House. There was a pump right in the middle. I remember because I pumped water out of it. Didn't drink it, but pumped water out of it. Then, from about here on down to approximately here, and I'll tell you where that landmark is because there's a definite distinction in the contour of the ground right about here-- there was a hump that was put in the road to keep it from washing away. To divert it down the ditches. This was a picket fence. White picket fence in sad repair. And this was a gate that swung out this way. And right about here was another gate and pathway that led up to the front door and here is the -- my scale's off -- let me move it down and draw the building smaller. That's better. There was a driveway which we made and went around backand the house stood back so. That's good enough. It gives you the general idea. The front door -- there was a gate here, and a picket fence and there was a gate here for the driveway. There was another building attached here about like this -- one story and I don't know what it was. It had one door that led in to it at a tortuous passage that led from the back of this room into the house -- into this wing.
McKelvey: Did you ever use that room?
Crichton (Willard): We stored things in it. At one time it was occupied. It was the proud possessor of two pianos, several pieces of furniture -- odd things that occurred from time to time. It was unliveable because there was only one tiny window in the front and the back. It was an oven in the summer and there was no heat in it so it was unuseable.
McKelvey: Do you recall a room called the Music Room?
Crichton (Willard): Nope. That could have been it.
McKelvey: We picked up a reference that someone built a music room.
Crichton (Willard): Oh, that's it. That's the music room. Because nothing else was built on here except this wing which I didn't know was built on until Joe Monigle told me. As a matter of fact, we knew that something had been added because at one time we found -- in either running wires or doing something in here -- we found the exterior clapboarded.
McKelvey: On the inside?
Crichton (Willard): On the inside of the downhill side of the hallway.
McKelvey: What color were they, do you remember?
Crichton (Willard): Yellow.
McKelvey: Still yellow?
Crichton (Willard): Yes.
McKelvey: When you moved into the house, were there any furnishings remaining?
Crichton (Willard): Nothing. It was absolutely -- totally bare. Nothing in there. I think there might have been a few things in the cellar. As a matter of fact, there was a water filter. It was a tremendous thing. Probably full of sand. Two tanks. In this direction, near the entrance. Oh, we had another coalbin back here. Two coalbins. This -- This skirted this thing and came around this way -- straighted out, and went down to what you have called the chicken house. Which was a chicken house and pigeon loft. There were pigeons still in there.
McKelvey: What did it look like on the inside?
Crichton (Willard): It had a wall across here, and two doors. Pop had it opened up and put garage doors on the front. They may have been there, but I don't think so. And he took this wall down and later a small, low addition -- about this high -- was added there because automobiles got longer.
McKelvey: You have a good memory. That's exactly the way it is.
Crichton (Willard): Now. You couldn't get in this except you had to almost jack the car up to get it up there. We put a ramp in. Which was concrete. You won't believe this, but there is a turn-around here. Just about shaped so. You can see it. There's a definite slope down here. That is completely built up of ashes from the furnace. The drill on the furnace was that you would haul the ashes out, put it in tin cans, and haul the tin cans length of this thing to the exterior door; carry the whole thing down here, dump the ashes and rake it out.
McKelvey: That was the bulkhead situation into the cellar?
Crichton (Willard): There's an exterior door -- what do you call those things that are on the -- common, old-fashioned cellar door. Right.
McKelvey: Were there any fences around the chicken coop?
Crichton (Willard): No.
McKelvey: Was there a fence along here?
Crichton – Yes. That was added later. There was a chain link fence put up along here. This was the orchard.
McKelvey: Was there a path in the orchard?
Crichton (Willard): Yes, a path that led somewhere along here, leading up to this -- This is the Free Park Road, and the house where, I believe –
Crichton (Willard): Shields, yes. Pete Shields.
- Path to Squirrel Run; Outbuildings and other homes; Peach brandy burial during prohibitionKeywords: Brandy; Diamond Dridge; Fences; Prohibition; Squirrel Run (Del.: Village); Street-railroadsTranscript: McKelvey: Was there a path further down here going down towards the old community of Squirrel Run?
Crichton (Willard): Yes, oh, yes. Two of them. One of them which I used to take, if I can draw the Church here, and the road that leads into it which swung around here. And that was the sexton's house -- fellow named Cheney lived in it. There was a path across here that led down to a -- in the heart of the Squirrel Run community – I took this many times. A place called Diamond Bridge.
McKelvey: Oh, yes. The bridge is still there.
Crichton (Willard): It is?
McKelvey: Nothing else about the place, but just the bridge.
Crichton (Willard): There were some houses there. I don't know how many. Can't recall. My memory tells me, I believe, that they were workmen's houses. And Diamond Bridge was the stopping point on the streetcar which I used to take. And I'd walk up the hill and walk down home.
McKelvey: Do you remember a set of steps here?
Crichton (Willard): Yes. They came up the side of the hill from Squirrel Run. And I just walked across the field. And there was another path -- I might be able to find the damn thing if I got out there. 0f course, this area down here was all filled in with fir trees, but there was a path -- two of them -- one of them, I think, went off in this general direction. And the other one came down from there and went down to where the Broad Gates Railroad was. I remember Motsey Copeland used this quite a bit because he put a bulkhead up here somewhere where it wouldn't hurt anybody except himself and used it to target practice there. High-powered rifles. The general foreman who lived in what -- I believe you called it the converted machine shop -- half way down the hill.
McKelvey: Blacksmith shop.
Crichton (Willard): Blacksmith shop. A fellow named Williamson – Bob Williamson lived in there. He lived on the right-hand side of the house as you look down the hill. He was an ex-Marine and he helped Motsey Copeland shoot rifles. Had target rings there.
McKelvey: That's on the other side of the little stream?
Crichton (Willard): The stream runs back of this thing, somewhere down along here. At the time we moved out, there was a building --very small. It had a wall, two sides to it, and it was a laundry.
McKelvey: What was in it?
Crichton (Willard): Somehow or other, I recall a small chimney and a piece of brickwork in which you could build a fire. That's all I remember of it.
McKelvey: It was a frame structure?
Crichton (Willard): A frame structure, yes. And what we did eventually –
McKelvey: Which way did the door face?
Crichton (Willard): Let's see. I believe it had one door here and I'm not sure about this side of it. We moved the whole thing, lock, stock and barrel back and put it here. And that served eventually as a place to store garden tools. The lawnmower went in there. This thing -- this was approximately where -- I don't think there's a boundary line except a natural one. The stream was one. And this grade went down to here and dropped, leveled off and dropped again. One of the reasons for that was this was where the septic tank was and the tile field was underneath here which made flowers grow very nicely .This was a flower garden, this part here. And there was another path. O.K. I got another path for you. Right down there. From here, down to -- there was a road. Now, you got me. There was a road, that ran from the blacksmith shop, through the woods, in this general direction. I remember that road very well, now. It was farther down the road.
McKelvey: We've got to go to another sheet of paper now because what you're beginning to describe is very important.
Crichton (Willard): Do you want me to continue on this?
McKelvey: If you could.
Crichton (Willard): Here's the road going down the hill. This is the --Here's the blacksmith shop here. The road curved around here and these were the iron gates. There's a steep hill there, and then, of course, it goes straight down to what I always thought was the blacksmith shop.
McKelvey: That's the building we call the machine shop.
Crichton (Willard): O.K. machine shop. And that, by the way, this side of that. That's where they stored for many, many years Mrs. Copeland's _____________ electric.
McKelvey: We own that, you know.
Crichton (Willard): Do you have it -- Oh, great. I'm glad of that.
McKelvey: The papers finally were transferred to us about a month ago.
Crichton (Willard): I remember that. I rode in that thing. She used to meet me at times. She would take her electric and we would drive up and down.
McKelvey: It still runs. And that's where the machine shop exhibit is.
Crichton (Willard): Right up here. O.K. Go from here, right? At this point -- this road comes down here and there is an area --I think there was a piece of grass or something in the center. You could turn around. Of course, these are the two houses and they added a piece on here later.
McKelvey: Do you remember them adding that piece on?
Crichton (Willard): Yeah. Right.
McKelvey: To make sort of a little patio.
Crichton (Willard): Right. And landscape this a bit. Right off here there was an actual road in this direction. I don't know exactly where it went. I'm going to surmise that it went close to where the Broad Gate Railroad is. I remember exploring it. I remember seeing old railroad ties down there -- places where they pulled the tracks up.
McKelvey: So, it went right into this wooded area?
McKelvey: Do you have a name for that wooded area?
Crichton (Willard): Never had a name. I didn't go there very much. I’ ve walked it. If you kept on it, you'd go down the hill and end up at the keg mill. Am I using the right term for you?
McKelvey: We call that area now the Pines. Pine trees. Prevalent.
Crichton (Willard): Right. Now, across from here is a house. Nearly. Just up to here. That's the one you just restored.
McKelvey: Yes, recently.
Crichton (Willard): And it was a bare, kind of a square thing and it had one addition on the south -- on the lower side, indented, as I recall. Am I right?
Crichton (Willard): O.K. This is the barn. There was another one about here.
McKelvey: Yeah. Do you remember that as a house or foundation?
Crichton (Willard): I believe it was a house.
McKelvey: O.K. We'll talk about that in a minute. Let's run this fence down. How far did that picket fence go?
Crichton (Willard): I got to get a reference. Wish you had a drawing.
McKelvey: You have a house here.
Crichton (Willard): O.K. This is the Belin House. This is where the chain link fence was that divided the orchard area from here. And by the way, somewhere in this area is the trunk full of peach brandy.
McKelvey: Right there, between those two buildings.
Crichton (Willard): Somewhere in there. We don't know where it is.
McKelvey: Did you bury it? Or who buried it?
Crichton (Willard): My uncles did it. In the depth of prohibition.
Crichton (Patsy): Oh, you had to. You always saved peaches.
Crichton (Willard): You had to bury it. They couldn't remember where they buried the damn thing and we couldn't get it.
McKelvey: Two hundred years before, they did that at Colonial Williamsburg. And the archeologists, about 10 years ago, discovered all these nice bottles, about 15 of them, all lined up in a row, just like marching soldiers, with their caps still in place made of clay, and it was a peach brandy. So, we've got our own.
Crichton (Willard): It's in there somewhere. I'll claim a taste if you find it. O.K. The picket fence ran from this boundary here, all the way down to this area about here where the ground -- if I were to draw a profile of this, which I will -- the profile would generally follow this and this was a level spot and eventually there was a hump built up in the middle of the road to keep it from washing away which you did with frightening regularity. The picket fence ran down -- all the way down to here. It later got demolished back here. There was a line of pine trees along here and we demolished it back to about there, and eventually demolished the whole thing.
McKelvey: So it ends right there where I have an asterisk.
Crichton (Willard): You might be able to find post holes in there.
McKelvey: Now, did it come down here?
Crichton (Willard): No, it did not.
McKelvey: It was just a decorative fence?
Crichton (Willard): Yes. I never saw any fence along here.
McKelvey: Was there nothing, then, in terms of a fence from there on down on this side?
Crichton (Willard): If I try and remember too hard, I'm going to tell you something wrong. My recollection is that there wasn't but I do now know that later on a chain link fence was put up here.
McKelvey: Down here where this road comes in, was there ever a fence in this area?
Crichton (Willard): Not that I remember.
- Father's garden at the Belin House; Other structures near the Belin HouseKeywords: Belin House (Greenville, Del.); Cheney family; Christ Church Christiana Hundred (Wilmington, Del.); Fences; Free Park (Del.: Village); Gardens; Paths; Roads; Seitz familyTranscript: McKelvey: O.K. Now, between the end of this fence -- say between this row of trees and this building we call the blacksmith shop -- on this side of the road – were there any buildings? Were there any privys?
Crichton (Willard): Never saw any.
McKelvey: Were there any summer houses, gazebos, anything of that sort?
Crichton (Willard): I don't remember a thing in there because it was very heavily wooded. Heavily wooded and full of undergrowth and it was cleaned out later so that you could actually see through it.
McKelvey: No gardens there?
Crichton (Willard): No gardens there until later Ed Sharpley put his vegetable garden right along here.
Crichton (Patsy): Now, your father had his –
Crichton (Willard): Father had his down here.
Crichton (Patsy): Was that based on a garden that was originally there and he developed or one that he developed out of an old plot?
Crichton (Willard): This thing was terraced so there had to be something there. The whole thing was terraced here -- right here --this is the significant thing, I think. That was a definite terrace.
McKelvey: What outbuildings were on this side?
Crichton (Willard): None.
McKelvey: And any indications, any indentations that you remember?
Crichton (Willard): Nothing that I remember would indicate any of that. The only thing we found was a set of gravel paths that went around here. There was a gravel path that went along here, and along the front, and stopped right there. And it was extended to here. I remember being with father when he found the gravel paths. He was cutting and he said, "It looks different." So, he got the rake and started to rake things up and got some stuff out and said, "There's gravel under here." So, and thereby condemning me to years and years and years of plucking weeds from the ground. Which I didn't care for.
McKelvey: And it stopped at the end of the house or at the road?
Crichton (Willard): As far as I know, it never went beyond -- Excuse me, it went up here. I beg your pardon. It went up to the --all the way along here. So, it went all around the house. And this path continued out to the -- here's your picket fence here. This was heavily planted in lilac trees.
McKelvey: Do you remember a stone step out here?
Crichton (Willard): Yes.
McKelvey: Do you remember a hitching post?
Crichton (Willard): I remember you asking me this and I'm not sure. I think so.
McKelvey: Do you remember what it was made of?
Crichton (Willard): I'm going to guess -- wood. The reason for that is if it had been iron, it wouldn't have appealed to my father to remove it. If it had been stone, he wouldn't have dared move it. If it was wood, it rotted away and he probably threw it out. But, I do remember the stepping stone -- mounting block.
McKelvey: Up here in Free Park, do you remember any of those houses except these two?
Crichton (Willard): No. Just this one, a retainer of, Mrs. Copeland's lived in there -- a woman by the name of Moffett. Who was definitely not Irish. That was Scottish because her eldest son used to come down regularly and ask father, "May I borrow your diggin' fork?" And that was kind of a family joke, you know -- "borrow your diggin' fork."
McKelvey: And the Cheneys lived up in here? In the church house?
Crichton (Willard): The Cheneys lived up in here and were sextons to the church. Mr. Ashton, the rector, lived out on Buck Road.
McKelvey: Now, between this barn -- stable -- and this house here --no, excuse me -- this house here which is now simply a foundation were there any outbuildings? Chicken coops? On either side?
Crichton (Willard): I don't remember. I don't remember any. Unfortunately, a lot of stuff had been cleaned out by 1922.
McKelvey: It's amazing how quickly they tore things out.
Crichton (Willard): Well, I can understand why, too.
McKelvey: I can, too, but I wish they hadn't. Down here at the blacksmith -- the building we call the blacksmith shop when you moved in in 1924, do you remember that as a one-story building or a two-story building?
Crichton (Willard): Two-story. Out of stone.
McKelvey: So, they already had put the second floor on.
Crichton (Willard): Yes. Two-story, definitely. And two residences.
McKelvey: And were the Seitz girls living in the Sunday School?
Crichton (Willard): I thought they had been there since the year '01.
McKelvey: I think most people had.
Crichton (Willard): Of course, this part over here was owned by Belin. I remember him. They wanted her out. They wanted the girls out when Hagley started and apparently he had said, "You can live in it as long as you want." And they did.
McKelvey: Yes. When I moved here, they were still here. And nobody had talked to them about the old days.
Crichton (Willard): What a shame, because their father was one of the millworkers. Alsatians.
McKelvey: This building behind what we call the Sunday School, what did you call that?
Crichton (Willard): The spring house. I think they had a privy out there somewhere. Because there was more than this and more than that.
McKelvey: Do you remember the interior of the spring house?
Crichton (Willard): Yes.
McKelvey: Divided now.
Crichton (Willard): Yes. Divided then.
McKelvey: In the section closer to your house, we have in there a large -- it looks like an ice chest now, that monopolizes the whole room. Was that there then?
Crichton (Willard): No. What that house was, of course, was a springhouse and there were channels, probably lined with brick. Water in there, cool water and all the milk, butter and things were set in there and they'd put their vegetables in there. We had gone modern. We had an ice box. A man came out and delivered 100 pounds of ice three times a week.
McKelvey: Did you get a sense of why it was divided?
Crichton (Willard): No. I just know that if you -- Of course, being a spring house, depressed, so that there were some steps that went down to a walkway here -- or right in front of it -- I don't know whether it was separated or not, but there was an entrance here and an entrance here.
- Visiting Hagley and the Belin House; Family photos and slides; Crichton's family; The opening of the Hagley Museum and Library; Residences near the Belin HouseKeywords: Belin House (Greenville, Del.); Crichton family; Hagley Museum and LibraryTranscript: McKelvey: When was the last time you visited this area?
Crichton (Willard): We went down there and ran into a tour and scared Hell out of them and got chased out. I didn't realize you couldn't -- Well, for 30 years I drove down the damn hills, so I drove down again.
McKelvey: Was this within --?
Crichton (Patsy): Last year.
Crichton (Willard): We had made a couple trips before and –
Crichton (Patsy): We used to go out about once a year and take your mother up.
Crichton (Willard): We'd take mother out to look at it. Mother died last spring, but before that every time one of my brothers would visit -- they both lived on the West Coast or they were in the Air Force and they were living anywhere. They'd come in and get a car, take mother out and take her down through Hagley and go out to Skunk Hollow and look the place over. I know my brothers have pictures they've taken on those trips, but that doesn't mean anything because that's in the present period.
McKelvey: One of your brothers stopped at the house last summer when he was attending his mother's funeral. And sent us a dozen photographs -- slides from the 1940's.
Crichton (Willard): I'm glad you brought that up because what we did was to give -- I have some I brought with me. He had copies made of them. We divided up mother's possessions and we appointed brother No. 2 as the librarian. He has all the snapshots, photographs and everything else. That's not the one that visited you.
McKelvey: And where are they? Where is he?
Crichton (Willard): He is in -- north of San Francisco -- San Raphael. The other one is northwest -- northeast of Los Angeles, just outside the smog belt.
McKelvey: Both of them went into the Service?
Crichton (Willard): The youngest one was a West Point graduate. And the middle one didn't have an education, didn't have a damn thing. He had a lot of brass and noise and everything else and he got into the Second World War as a navigator in the Air Force and they called him back in when Harry Truman opened up Korea. Sent him to Alaska where he partied heavily with his colleagues who persuaded him to apply for a commission in the regular Air Force. Which he did and which they gave him. So he retired after serving on Westmoreland's staff in Vietnam in Intelligence. After 30 years' service bringing home with him a Vietnamese wife and three adopted children.
Crichton (Patsy): Went to school and got his law degree.
Crichton (Willard): Left the Service, used the Government pay, went to law school, passed the California Bar and is a practicing attorney. That has nothing to do -- But he was born there in July of 1924.
Crichton (Patsy): So was Ted.
Crichton (Willard): In that room -- No, in this room. Ted was born in the hospital.
Crichton (Patsy): You got out of the Army just after World War II.
Crichton (Willard): Yes. Well, what happened -- Well, when I left – I moved out of the house when we were married in 1950.I think father and mother moved out in 1954. When Hagley started. I remember being there during the celebration of the establishment of the Museum and old Luther Reed. He was a pistol, wasn't he?
McKelvey: Oh, my, was he ever.
Crichton (Willard): He came to me -- See, I worked in DuPont and Luther Reed in the same general area he was in which was Trade Analyses. He kept saying to me, "Why don't you get your father out of there?" And I said, "What are you going to do with the house?" He said, "We don't know what we're going to do with it." So, I said, "Why are you in such a hurry, then?" Pop was getting ready to retire. So, he did retire and then he had hepatitis, and they didn’ t want him to move. And Luther kept prodding me to prod them.
Crichton (Patsy): The house was too big for them. Too much to care for.
Crichton (Willard): Yes. Just two of them in there. Had 12 rooms. Because we had divided one of these rooms in half and it was just too darned big. You could have held the Elk’ s Ball in there. It was so big. So we had the one, two, three, four, five bedrooms.
McKelvey: And then, shortly after you moved out, the Museum turned that into their offices. That was the first office, I think, of the Museum.
Crichton (Willard): I used to chivvy Luther Reed a little bit. One time I said, "Luther, you're very fond of antiques, aren't you?" He said, "Absolutely. I'm very fond of antiques." And I'd wait for him to quiet down and I said, "Well, you ought to get into that old house there. There's some wonderful antiques." He said, "Where are they?" They're underneath a pile of ashes. They are some of the plumbing for the heating system. And they are magnificent antiques -- cast iron elbows. He didn't think it was at all funny. But, you know something -- we couldn't heat that darn house because all the pipes were so thin and so corroded from all the sulphuric acid -- You pile the ashes up on top --he didn't know anything about chemistry at all. Pile the ashes up and wet it down to keep it from stinking the house up, right?
McKelvey: Right. It would leak out.
Crichton (Willard): You'd run up 3-1/2 pounds pressure on the boiler -- boom -- one of the return lines would go. Stop, shut the furnace down, rake out the fire, replace that line, put the ashes back on top of it and start the fire up again.
McKelvey: I'm going to turn my tape over.
(Tape 2: Much of this tape is very noisy and hardly understandable.)
McKelvey: The recorder is on again, folks. You can say serious, intellectual things for posterity. The property here is very little changed. Now I see where I am.
Crichton (Willard): Now I see where I am, but I never approached it this way.
McKelvey: I think they've changed a couple of roads through the years.
Crichton (Willard) – You certainly have. This one existed, but it went straight down there. And I don't think this part did.
McKelvey: There's this marvelous line of trees. It shows the old road. And the main entrance right down to the DuPont residence which you can see.
Crichton (Willard): I remember that. I remember seeing that in the early days when you came through the gate. You can see down this avenue.
McKelvey: This other side road down here goes down past Silliman's and across the iron bridge. Over to Laird's property.
Crichton (Willard): Which I’ ve used many times.
McKelvey: This is E. Paul duPont's house over behind this here.
Crichton (Willard): I know that very well. Paul, Jr., used to fly his airplane in and out of this field. There's the remains of his windsocket up there. See it.
McKelvey: And then, you could have gone -- in the old days --straight down.
Crichton (Willard): That's the only way we could. When we first moved here, that was the only way down because this road along Free Park was not open.
McKelvey: That's closed off, of course. And this is the estate that you think the laboratory sat on.
Crichton (Willard): It did.
Crichton (Willard): That laboratory is right in here.
McKelvey: Now, we're right at the turnstile.
Crichton (Willard): It was either right in here or farther down this way. But, it wasn't far from the road. It was painted green. Is that it? Is that what I think it is? Let's move down just a little bit farther. That, unfortunately, is the building which I thought was the laboratory.
McKelvey: That is?
Crichton (Willard): That.
McKelvey: It's still green and looks like a garage.
Crichton (Willard): It's not of any architectural significance, is it?
McKelvey: Well, if you change the doors and knock off that little elbow, you got a nice 1930's building there.
Crichton (Willard): That's the one.
McKelvey: We'll investigate that.
Crichton (Willard): This is the path that I used to take -- right from abou there, across this field, and down to Diamond Bridge to catch the trolley car.
- Trees around the Belin House; Getting rid of trash; The gardens; du Pont family owned Orchards and animalsKeywords: Belin House (Greenville, Del.); Chickens; Croquet; Flower gardens; Gardens; Orchards; Pigs; Trash; TreesTranscript: "There was a huge maple there..."
- Replacing the roof on the Belin House; Trees around the Belin HouseKeywords: Belin House (Greenville, Del.); Great Depression; Maintenance; Roofs; Trees; Wasps; WisteriaTranscript: "...the Depression hit and nobody had two pennies to rub against the other, and Pop just couldn't afford the rent."
- Viewing photos of the Belin House; Getting rid of the well pump; Lammot du Pont's laboratoryKeywords: Belin House (Greenville, Del.); Du Pont, Lammot, 1831-1884; Photographs; Plumbing; Pumps; Trees; WellsTranscript: "They ran out of good paper during the war, and they used this reclaimed stuff..."
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