“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Dover in Kent County, Delaware — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Woodburn: The Governor's House

Woodburn: The Governor's House Marker image. Click for full size.
By Nate Davidson, October 23, 2008
1. Woodburn: The Governor's House Marker
Inscription.  This house was built for Charles Hillyard III ca. 1798. At the time, it was considered one of the grandest in Kent County. When Hillyard died in 1814, his son-in-law, Dr. Martin W. Bates purchased the house. Bates lived here with his wife Mary and her three younger sisters. The house was sold to Daniel and Mary Cowgill in 1825. The first known reference to the name "Woodburn" was in an 1845 letter written by a Cowgill family member. Before there was an official residence, Governors who did not live in Dover would often stay in rented quarters or with friends when the General Assembly was in session.

The State of Delaware purchased Woodburn in 1965, during the term of Governor Charles L. Terry, Jr., to serve as the official residence of the Governor of Delaware. First Lady Jessica Irby Terry supervised the design of the interior of Woodburn during the renovations that followed the purchase. Inspired by the sophistication of the interior architecture, Mrs. Terry chose furnishings, textile treatments, and accessories that reflected the elegance and classicism of the Georgian style of the late 18th century.

In 1966, the tradition of opening

Woodburn: The Governor's House image. Click for full size.
By Nate Davidson, November 7, 2005
2. Woodburn: The Governor's House
Photo taken from location of marker; was taken prior to marker's placement.
Woodburn to the public was begun by First Lady Jessica Irby Terry. Woodburn became a symbol of grace and elegance but retained a sense of warmth and intimacy. First Lady Jeanne Tribbitt, who resided full-time at Woodburn with Governor Tribbitt (1973-77), once remarked "Woodburn is a home, not a museum." During the last forty years, not all Governors have occupied the house as their primary residence, but it has always been used for many state functions from dinners and receptions to festivals, picnics and public events.
Erected by The First State Heritage Park at Dover.
Location. 39° 9.698′ N, 75° 31.383′ W. Marker is in Dover, Delaware, in Kent County. Marker is on King's Highway. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Dover DE 19901, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Hall House (a few steps from this marker); Woodburn (within shouting distance of this marker); Richardson and Robbins Complex (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Annie Jump Cannon (about 800 feet away); Wesley College (approx. 0.2 miles away); Dover (approx. 0.2 miles away); Bishop Richard Allen (approx. 0.2 miles away); World War II Memorial (approx. mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Dover.
Additional keywords.
Close-up - Postcard image. Click for full size.
By Nate Davidson, October 23, 2008
3. Close-up - Postcard
Even before it was the Governor's residence, the house was a popular subject for early 20th-century postcards like the one above which pictures the south porch. A late 19th century photograph (right) shows unidentified people on the north steps of the house. Both images: Delaware Public Archives, Dover
Dover, First State Heritage Park
Categories. Notable Buildings
Public Access image. Click for full size.
By Nate Davidson, October 23, 2008
4. Public Access
The public is invited to Woodburn several times each year, including on Old Dover Days (First Saturday in May) pictured at right.
Interior Furnishings image. Click for full size.
By Nate Davidson, October 23, 2008
5. Interior Furnishings
The Governor's House is furnished with antiques, portraits, ceramics, and silver spanning three centuries from the collections of the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. The Great Hall (right) was redesigned in 2003 to reflect Mrs. Terry's original intentions.

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Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on May 29, 2011, by Nate Davidson of Salisbury, Maryland. This page has been viewed 610 times since then and 15 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on May 29, 2011, by Nate Davidson of Salisbury, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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