Seeing remnants from the past can transport you back to a different time, and it can be a truly wonderful experience. It can almost make us feel like we were in an era that we weren’t even born in, and it can help us to experience what a different time in history was like.
Speaking of history, 1787 was a special year for Delaware as it was the year that their first paper mill opened. The mill was called Gilpin’s Mill, and it was located north of Wilmington just off the shore of the Brandywine Creek. This painting was created by Thomas Doughty in 1827, and it’s titled “Gilpin’s Mill On The Brandywine.”
More than 40 years later in 1831, Joseph Bancroft’s textile company opened a location on the same site. During the 1930s, the cotton finishing factory was said to be one of the best in the whole world, and the Bancroft family made great efforts to help the community and region. The site was continuously expanded but eventually closed in 1961.
After closing, the site changed hands to the Wilmington Piece Dye company in the mid-1960s, and they owned it until 2003. At that point, the factory closed again as the company filed for bankruptcy. In the above photo the bridge that connected the banks of Brandywine River and allowed pedestrians to traverse it is shown. We wouldn’t recommend walking it now as it looks like the rest of the factory, desolate and uncared for!
Once again, the property changed hands. Condo developers bought the site with plans to demo the existing structures and build luxury condominiums. Two of the previous buildings on the location have been transformed into condo buildings housing 46 units. The buildings have the beautiful backdrop of the Brandywine River.
The new condominiums are called the Bancroft Mills Condominiums, and they make no efforts to hide the history of the location. Instead, they actually boast about the rich history of the site on their website. The picture above shows the beautiful scenery that the residents at the Bancroft Mills Condominiums have in their backyard.
Some of the other buildings that have not yet been converted were subject to a fire in 2015, and so they look even more desolate than they did before. The pictures above show some of the damage the morning after the fire took place.
Even with the new damage to the buildings, the site is still an amazing tribute to the history that all started with Gilpin’s Mill in 1787. It’s fascinating that a location that was once used as a paper mill turned into a textile factory, and then eventually into luxury condominiums. We can’t wait to see how the history continues to get richer over the coming years!
Have you ever been to the Brandywine Creek in Delaware and seen the mill? Let us know in the comments, and make sure to share the story with your family and friends!