Interview with Willard Graham Crichton, Jr. and Patsy Crichton, 1985 March 6 [audio](part 2)
- Touring the Hagley areaKeywords: Belin House (Greenville, Del.); Blacksmith Hill; Christ Church Christiana Hundred (Wilmington, Del.); Fences; Free Park (Del.: Village); Outbuildings; Street-railroadsTranscript: (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.
McKelvey: We're at the gates of the church; we're looking to the right. Right over that hill. We're passing it. And this is the house the Cheneys lived in.
Crichton (Willard): Yes, the Cheneys.
McKelvey: By 1924, all these houses –
Crichton (Willard): Everything was gone. There was nothing here but the Cheney house and this stone house which had not been added on to. So that this building here, of course, and the extension in depth didn't exist. It was a square building, that's all.
McKelvey: The wood shingle sections were not there.
Crichton (Willard): No.
McKelvey: That's interesting. Because the rumor is that these sections were parts of other buildings.
Crichton (Willard): They were not here in 1924.
Crichton (Willard): O.K. Here we can see the laboratory. Now, this is the part of the stone wall that fell down during the flood.
McKelvey: On the right side.
Crichton (Willard): And this terrace here was fenced in and that was where Mrs. Moffett kept all of her chickens.
McKelvey: Now, we're looking at about 40 feet from the curb on the right side by the trees.
Crichton (Willard): Now, we're making the turn and you can see where the old road -- this was the only road. And, of course, this wasn't paved. We referred to this section of the road as axle breaker. Actually, it wasn't axles that were broken; it would shatter your springs. Shock absorbers were not very good. That roof doesn't look in very good shape, on the left.
McKelvey: The cupola seems to be leaning at a precarious angle. Jaunty angle.
Crichton (Willard): Now, there may have been a privy just beyond in back. In back of there.
McKelvey: O.K. We're on the uphill side of the Sunday School. Looking over by the -- what do you call that kind of tree? We'll get back to it.
Crichton (Willard): Here's the remains of the chain link fence, which extended down to here and you can see the continuation. It goes back to the utility pole. There was a gate here to the chain link fence for servicing this area. At this point here where the rails -- this intersection --this is where the picket fence started. Went down to where that terrace was. That's right; that's where it is. How Pauline ever got her car in and out of that garage, I don't know. She was something.
McKelvey: Testing -- one, two, three. We're on Blacksmith Hill now.
Crichton (Willard): This area here actually was a roadway about where I'm walking now. And it was a turn-around with the well in the center and the stones around it. They were piled up around the edge of the well, to a depth of about two or three feet. There was a roadway – or driveway if you want to call it -- approach to within two or three feet of the edge of the well.
McKelvey: There's a path that goes up.
Crichton (Willard): Yes, you could have gotten a cart up there, couldn't you?
McKelvey: I think so. On a good day. But you dare not do it in the spring when it's muddy.
Crichton (Willard): That looks right, doesn't it?
McKelvey: Yes it is. We're looking at the spring house now.
Crichton (Willard): I didn't think it was stone. It couldn't have been stone. Oh, yes, it could, considering all the stonemasons that were here. This to me was always very widely overgrown.
McKelvey: We're looking behind the barn and toward the Cheney house.
Crichton (Willard): There's your hydrant. I might be able to go up and spot something up there if we get a chance.
McKelvey: Let's go down to where the picket fence stopped.
Crichton (Willard): The picket fence stopped at approximately in this area which is just along the lower row of pines. That's the picket fence ending right here.
McKelvey: I will hold one finger up to tell you that.
- Walking around Blacksmith HillKeywords: Belin House (Greenville, Del.); Blacksmith Hill; Free Park (Del.: Village); Gardens; Paint; Paths; TreesTranscript: Crichton (Willard): Now, there's no question about this. This is the flower garden that we used. See, this is definitely terraced. This is our early 20th century privy.
McKelvey: Are you sure?
Crichton (Willard): Yes, I think so. We think that the family that lived in this house over here we only have the foundation --I'm looking for something -- I'm not sure where it is. The thing that we used for a cesspool. Kind of.
McKelvey: A pathway went down into this area here. A pathway. Sunglasses case pathway. Where did it go?
Crichton (Willard): It went down to the woods and you see where the --that's not where the road was, by the way, it was farther down -- the roadway -- and went either down the hill or across to what you referred to as the blacksmith shop.
McKelvey: You couldn't see it from here?
Crichton (Willard): It was not only heavily wooded with trees, but it was thick underbrush.
McKelvey: Would we be standing right on the pathway?
Crichton (Willard): Yes, you would.
McKelvey: And the pathway was gravel.
Crichton (Willard): No, I think it was gravel down to about where we are now. This is vegetable garden area as we drew it up.
McKelvey: About what?
Crichton (Willard): About 10 feet from the stream.
McKelvey: The vegetable garden ran all of this?
Crichton (Willard): Yes, up to almost where the -- there was a little short this side of the pathway. It was big.
McKelvey: How wide was it?
Crichton (Willard): About 20 feet.
McKelvey: Twenty feet. From the four trees to the holly bush, 10 feet from the stream. And there was no fence back here?
Crichton (Willard): Not that I recall. There was quite a lot of natural fencing in the form of perhaps hedgerow. It’ s hard to believe that I saw those trees being planted when they were this tall.
McKelvey: And who planted them?
Crichton (Willard): Motsey Copeland had them done.
McKelvey: We have a lot of stuff stored in the pines where it's out of sight now -- machinery and such.
Crichton (Willard): That was the remains of a very large maple – about right here. John -- That's where the stump – there was a table. There was a large stump on which we had placed some boards to make a table. There's still a couple of stumps up here. The contour -- yes, it is all coal ashes. Everything. Thirty years of dragging coal ashes out here and dumping them. There was a Catawba tree here and that's the remainder and that other shed -- we had -- just on the side. You're still holding the door open with bricks; that's the way we did. The gravel ran down here to the driveway. The driveway came through and angled this way and was straight from the back door down here.
McKelvey: Oh, straight down?
Crichton (Willard): Yes.
McKelvey: I'm on the driveway now. According to your speculation, then, your treasure should be right in here.
Crichton (Willard): Anywhere from the driveway, and I'm walking up the driveway. There were three trees here. There was a large -- farther up. Where you are, there was a superb holly. The pine was approximately here. And there was another one up here. And to the left of that window –
McKelvey: We're at the side of the house, now, looking at the window into the hallway.
Crichton (Willard): To the left of that window was a door that opened onto the front, straight in to the foot of the stairs.
McKelvey: The Victorian Wing was right in here.
Crichton (Willard): It came straight up -- matched in size and shape this one and this is where the front door was here and that was the hallway. The Victorian Wing was on the right and beyond that was this music room, as you call it.
McKelvey: That's what we've been calling it.
Crichton (Willard): I'll have some pictures of it. And the path went straight out here and there was a gate in the picket fence straight out front. Another gate where the driveway started.
McKelvey: We're standing at the gate, John.
Crichton (Willard): I knew darn well the pump was straight across from the gate. That picture that was in the paper doesn't seem to indicate that to me. Perhaps it was the angle.
McKelvey: Now, the stone foundations down there. Do you remember a house on that side?
Crichton (Willard): Yes.
McKelvey: Did you ever get in it?
Crichton (Willard): No. Not in that. That was bad. Of course, the other one -- the one that you've restored. I’ ve been in that many, many times. All through that.
McKelvey: Do you recall what the interior was like there?
Crichton (Willard): Plaster. And what's that paint that always was tinted. Tinted in colors of blue and yellow. I think blue and yellow were the predominant ones. The precurser of the Latex paint, you know.
McKelvey: What colors were they in this house?
Crichton (Willard): Colors varied from blue -- I think was the most popular color. There was some yellow and some white.
McKelvey: You remember those colors in that house?
Crichton (Willard): Yes.
McKelvey: Let's go in and see if we can get -- the living room –
Crichton (Willard): That closet was not there. They had a piano tucked back in there. This was the hallway and it goes up there. That's the real place -- where the Empire Leader really had its place -- up this wall. There was a door here, cellar door, pantry, dining room. I told you this was a beautiful dining room, didn't I?
(This section of tape not understandable)
Crichton (Willard): That was here.
McKelvey: Where the fireplace is?
Crichton (Willard): This is the ceiling that had the _________ board. Something like that. Pressed fibre or pressed board. And lathe to cover the joints. This room was decorated ___________________.
McKelvey: This was a single room like this?
Crichton (Willard): Yes. Like this with French doors here. The porch. The other doors were here, probably where that window opening is. And, of course, that was straight across to the entrance to the living room. We seldom used this room. Impossible to heat. The windows were twin windows. That is to say, there were two sash -- one to the left and one to the right. I believe these were ordinary looking sash. All throughout the house were –
Crichton (Patsy): I remember one New Year's Eve party we had –
Crichton (Willard): Damn near set the house afire.
Crichton (Patsy): Probably, but you were burning wood in the fireplace.
Crichton (Willard): We were also probably under the weather at that time. I don't think these floors have been replaced. They've been refinished, but not replaced. We had on them brown paint. This place has a good foundation -- good structure under it. That's where the wisteria climbed up -- up there and up here. We had bookcases over here on this wall. When mechanical refrigerators were developed for homes, we had one in here. The ice box was outside, otherwise. Sink here. Kind of a pantry. Window.
- Touring a the Belin houseKeywords: Bedrooms; Belin House (Greenville, Del.); Ceilings; FurnitureTranscript: McKelvey: No sanitary facilities?
Crichton (Willard): Had a dining room door -- swinging door here. Now, I see exactly -- Of course, it was added. ________________ came out here, out to approximately six feet out –
McKelvey: Into the kitchen.
Crichton (Willard): The one decent flue in this chimney was -- accommodated the smoke pipe for the range. It was nice and warm in back of the range and the cats used to love it. We had 17 cats out here at one time.
McKelvey: Were these closets?
Crichton (Willard): Yes. Same doors, no question about that. Same interior. Same shelves, come to think of it. The sink is where the sink was. There was also about a 60-gallon galvanized water tank here which was the hot water. And we had a water vat in the stove which heated in the winter and a separate little bucket-a-day coal fired water heater during the summer. We had a stove over here. The sink was here. The window was where the window is and the door is where the door was. But the back porch went out from here and on the right we had an ice box and outside of that we had a shed type of thing where we had the garbage pails.
McKelvey: Let's take a look at the chicken coop. That's a double door. Was that the way it was?
Crichton (Willard): Yes. I don't remember the third door, but I assume it was there. The one on the right. I remember the two in the middle. There was a wall that separated it there. And the little thing on the back was added to accommodate the bonnet of a more modern automobile --the Model-T Ford you could get in there with no trouble. But, when the '32 Chevrolet came along, it wouldn't fit. Oh, here it is. The old house _______________ raptures out of this stuff.
McKelvey: Yes they have. Pretty easy to find now. Ten years ago you couldn't.
Crichton (Willard): I've forgotten this stuff.
McKelvey: We're looking at the pressed-in ceiling.
Crichton (Willard): Did we have cabinets up on this wall?
Crichton (Patsy): I don't remember.
Crichton (Willard): There was a big, huge cabinet up here.
McKelvey: By the kitchen door.
Crichton (Willard): There's the old dining room door. Got moved.
McKelvey: Got a wedge there.
Crichton (Willard): Oh. Used to be able to make it stand open.
McKelvey: And this little closet?
Crichton (Willard): No.
McKelvey: Something we must have put in?
Crichton (Willard): I think you must have. Oh, I know. Yes, you did because this wasn't here. This is where the refrigerator was. Let's go upstairs. I haven't been upstairs -- -- for over 30 years, anyway. Isn't this a nice staircase?
McKelvey: It is. This is neat. Of course, these stairs go on up to the third floor, straight ahead. Where the _____________ plate is.
Crichton (Willard): That wall went straight across.
McKelvey: Sally's office.
Crichton (Willard): And this had three windows in it and this was the doorway that led into the bathroom and we could get to the bathroom from either of the two bedrooms. This bedroom -- approximately here, we put a partition up to make two bedrooms out of it. Three windows.
Crichton (Patsy): I keep thinking I can't get into your mother's bedroom.
Crichton (Willard): We can't get into the bedrooms.
McKelvey: Where the window is.
Crichton (Willard): Now, that's where the other bathroom was.
McKelvey: Where the bathroom is.
Crichton (Willard): This had a door leading into this bedroom here. This is the fireplace that was not here that I opened up. It had been there before.
McKelvey: Where the bowfront is.
Crichton (Willard): There was a door leading straight into the bathroom here and a door which is where it is leading from the hall into the bathroom.
McKelvey: And no carpets?
Crichton (Willard): No. This was referred to as the "Birdie Room" because there's also a fireplace back here and when we opened the fireplace up to , a whole bunch of birds flew down the chimney and, of course, now you can't see it, but there was the gable roof off the back porch directly under here. I've forgotten how big this place was. When my grandmother died, we brought a lot of very good furniture in.
McKelvey: It's still strange not to be able to walk in that bedroom.
Crichton (Willard): You have no access to the -- is there any access to the –
McKelvey: I don't know. I've never been up here looking for that. Maybe in this -- First bedroom again.
Crichton (Willard): Over here there were two cabinets which used the width of the room to separate one side from the other. Actually, this was a combination ___________________. This room had the pressed tin ceilings.
McKelvey: This is Sally's office.
Crichton (Willard): Monumental size bedroom, wasn't it? As I said, it's funny to me to come back. And to really think that my most vivid memories when I was small, things now should appear smaller. Most of the surrounds of the house were of this style here. They did not have the beaded board and the ____________ on top.
McKelvey: We did that in our Colonial period.
Crichton (Willard): That's right. I bought some_______________ so that I could replicate some that I found in the attic in New Castle. That is the brightest room of any I've been in -- this dining room. Now, I want to talk about trees. Have to go outside to do it, though.
- Looking at photographs; Going into the Gibbons HouseKeywords: Brandywine Manufacturers' Sunday School; Calcamine blue; Christ Church Christiana Hundred (Wilmington, Del.); Colors; Gibbons House; Graffiti; Outbuildings; Paints; Photographs; Seitz family; WallpaperTranscript: McKelvey: O.K. Let's sit for a while and look at pictures. And then go back out and read some landscape.
Let me do this one time, so that as I bring them out, I can give you a number. This is 70.1.213 we're looking at. This is the house that we call the Gibbons House just down the way. Back in around 1895. And the thing that is interesting there – that picket fence of yours -- or a picket fence continues down the hill. This is the other side of the road.
Crichton (Willard): That's the nature of that picket fence. I remember the arrow design on the top.
McKelvey: And then down here near that road that goes back to the trees --the pines -- is this stone structure.
Crichton (Willard): I don't remember ever seeing that stone structure, which I guess is some kind of stone fence.
McKelvey: Now, you were describing being in this house.
Crichton (Willard): Yes.
McKelvey: As you walk through the front door here, what did you find?
Crichton (Willard): A small room. A stairway in the back. I think it was a spiral staircase.
McKelvey: What color was that small room?
Crichton (Willard): I have the feeling that it was either white or yellow.
McKelvey: What kind of floor did it have?
Crichton (Willard): I don't remember. I know that one section of it, I believe, was either dirt or brick. It may be this one out here.
McKelvey: Were there any furnishings in the house -- stove or anything?
Crichton (Willard): Nothing that I can remember.
McKelvey: Were you able to recognize one of the rooms as down on the first floor -- or ground floor -- as the kitchen?
Crichton (Willard): I rather thought the kitchen was out here. I don't know.
McKelvey: Out in the El?
Crichton (Willard): And when you got up here, I remember there was a small hallway and -- this level up here led straight out on to the hill and there was a door there. And two rooms up there, maybe three.
McKelvey: Do you remember where the door was? The one where the door was --what color was that?
Crichton (Willard): I begin to see the blue. Although, I'm pretty darn sure that when I got up to the third floor that one, if not both of those rooms, was blue.
McKelvey: Light blue?
Crichton (Willard): Yes, a light blue.
McKelvey: Sort of a chalky wash?
Crichton (Willard): Chalky wash of the robin's egg blue type. Not a rich color. A pastel.
Crichton (Patsy): Calcamine blue?
Crichton (Willard): Calcamine blue, yes.
McKelvey: Any wallpaper in this house?
Crichton (Willard): I don't remember. A lot of grafitti.
McKelvey: Dates? Names? Dirty sayings?
Crichton (Willard): Yes, all of the above, I think.
McKelvey: So, the building wasn't being used for anything?
Crichton (Willard): It was totally empty. I'm not sure whether this porch was on there. I think it was at one time and later got taken down.
Crichton (Patsy): I remember the porch and I remember these pieces of trellis. Just because I thought it was unusual. As a small child.
Crichton (Willard): I don't recall this fencing, although there was some fencing along there, I'm pretty sure. If anything was built in the side of a hill, that one was, wasn't it?
McKelvey: Yes, it was. Now, later on down here on the first floor, what kind of floor? A brick floor? Wood?
Crichton (Willard): I have the feeling that this was wood and that was either brick or dirt.
McKelvey: O.K. Let's go on then. The next photograph that we're looking at -- 74233. I don't know, but it says the Cheney House. This is the house that's only a stone foundation now. The Gibbons House there. This little girl in the foreground is Catherine Cheney who lives over in New Castle now and moved up –
Crichton (Willard): This is totally unfamiliar to me. I assume that the building itself was not there, but the foundations were. I can see that it is frame and I just don't recall anything that appeared that way.
McKelvey: Do you remember playing in those foundations?
Crichton (Willard): No, not really. I probably explored them. I'm sure I did.
McKelvey: In her memory when she was interviewed a couple of years ago, she remembers that as a chicken coop, this shed. So, you don't think that shed was there, either?
Crichton (Willard): No, I'm pretty sure it was not.
McKelvey: The next photograph is the Sunday School and it is Photo No. 84-71 -- I can't make it out -- 594-4 maybe. And that's the Brandywine Manufacturers' Sunday School when it was an office. And it shows very nicely that –
Crichton (Willard): Yes, it does. There it is.
McKelvey: The pump was wood.
Crichton (Willard): Yes.
McKelvey: And it had a wooden trough.
Crichton (Willard): Yes. I 'm not sure I remember the wooden trough, but I remember the pump was wood.
McKelvey: And it was always pumped. It wasn’ t a bucket operation.
Crichton (Willard): No. Just pumped. Didn't have any bucket. Didn't have anything on it.
McKelvey: And willow trees in front of the building.
Crichton (Willard): At least these two had gone by the time I moved here. Now, this underwent two transformations. This was stuccoed. Now, just two appearances. It was stuccoed and then they pulled the stucco off and it's probably stone underneath. And I've forgotten when that was done, but I remember it was always stuccoed. Painted yellow? It was painted yellow when the Seitz -- they were irreverently referred to in the DuPont Company where they worked as "The Parasites."
McKelvey: This is 80.229.11 -- another view of the Sunday School when it was an office.
Crichton (Willard): Now, there's a piece of it without the stucco.
McKelvey: Yes. Apparently, they were cutting those willows for charcoal. Now, another photograph is 594.3, also of the Sunday School. It shows a couple of interesting things here. I don't know if it is an earlier date. We have that fence, very similar to the one we have now, with the turnstile -- rotary turnstile. And then over in the corner here, we have a stepstile to climb over the fence and down, and a couple of children there. Do you remember the kids? Do you remember the turnstile?
Crichton (Willard): The stile was not there and the post-and-rail fence was not there. I'm pretty sure these two trees were not there, either. To the right of the door because by that time, I think the girls had built up their flower garden and they made a stone embankment so they could fill it in as a flower garden. They were very fussy about their flowers.
McKelvey: 68.10.12. A picture of the spring house. Did the springhouse always have the moon-shape --?
Crichton (Willard): Yes.
McKelvey: It always struck me as that's the door for an outhouse, not a springhouse.
Crichton (Willard): Maybe it was transplanted.
Crichton (Patsy): It did me, too.
McKelvey: I think it was probably for air circulation.
Crichton (Willard): Yes, I guess it was. Except for the litter around here, this looks like –
McKelvey: Another photograph we have is V40-12 -- a photograph of the barn. Now, you said the Seitzes kept the car on one side.
Crichton (Willard): This over here, on the left side.
McKelvey: What was kept on the right-hand side?
Crichton (Willard): I believe it was stored full of the most amazing amount of trash I've ever seen. It was full of everything. Furniture. Pieces of building material. Luggage. You name it, it was in there.
McKelvey: All the good family stuff that's gone, unfortunately. What kind of floor did it have?
Crichton (Willard): Dirt. This was dirt. This may have had something, I don't know, because I seldom went in there. You went in by invitation only.
McKelvey: Up in this Blacksmith Hill area where did you shoot marbles?
Crichton (Willard): I never shot marbles. I shot lots of squirrels and rabbits, but no marbles.
McKelvey: How about the second floor?
Crichton (Willard): Never got in it. Never saw it open. Never saw what was in there. I guess they cleaned that out, too.
McKelvey: Yes. A pity, pity, pity.
Crichton (Willard): Now. There's the gate. Here's the front gate. And the picket fence which ran down to God knows where. And the pump. And the Victorian Wing. Now, there's your double sets of panes. They’ re upstairs, too. They weren't. They were ordinary, six over six on this side. None at all on the north side.
McKelvey: They just Victorianized the front. Well, north is this face.
Crichton (Willard): These had two little windows up here.
McKelvey: Oh, excuse me.
McKelvey: Did I call a number on that? We are looking at B4-9. Throughthis open gate, there's a building back there.
Crichton (Willard): That's the building we moved. That's the washroom. The laundry. And you can see that it has a door in the front. I know there was one in the back, too. This porch, indeed, when we moved there, still had this diamond-shaped woodwork. I don't think that the scrollwork at the top was there. The wisteria went up here and climbed in the window. Marvelous. Chimney -- and that's all they were -- chimney -- to increase draft, I guess.
McKelvey: B4-2. This appeared in the paper, yes.
Crichton (Willard): Now, here is the start of that. Can I see the previous one again. That was one of the biggest maple trees you've ever seen. Right in the front yard. I'm going to get myself oriented for trees.
- Trees around the Belin House; Sledding; Aerial photographsKeywords: Belin House (Greenville, Del.); Lofts; Pigeon lofts; Pigeons; Sledding; Springs; SquabTranscript: "That was huge, it towered over the house completely..."
- Looking at photographs; Going into the Belin House basementKeywords: Basements; Belin House (Greenville, Del.); Free Park (Del.: Village); Furnaces; Gibbons House; Grapes; Hagley Museum and Library; PhotographsTranscript: "They had a porch or something in the back... I think that's an addition..."
- Outside the Belin HouseKeywords: Belin House (Greenville, Del.); Croquet; Daffodils; Paths; Pigeons; TreesTranscript: "Right about here is where that monumental maple tree was... there was also a pine..."
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