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The Brandywine Village Historic District

Brandywine Village was the original location of a group homes of mill workers, shop keepers and artisans. At first the town was a separate entity on the north side of the Brandywine Greek, but soon became a part of earlier Wilmington, then developing on the south bank of the stream.

The earliest settler reached the land which later became Brandywine Village in 1637. Captain Jacob Vandever who took his small ship up the small stream, now the Brandywine Creek accompanied by his wife; he sailed directly from Holland Shortly after his landing, it was discovered that his ship was leaky and unseaworthy. With the consent of a friendly Indian chief, Vandever and his crew laid claim to the landing place and built the first house in Brandywine. The first land patent was granted in 1669 under the Duke of York and confirmed by re-survey in 168I-85. The amount of land mentioned was 535 acres. Farm life prevailed up to the time of the development of the flour milling industry.

Brandywine Creek flows west to east covering an area of thirty acres with mill sites, historic homes and a small schoolhouse; two mid-century churches are also included in this historic district. The crossing of the creek, which has always been a problem due to the rocky stream-bed and steep banks, is now accomplished by two modern bridges that supplant three early wooded bridges, a ford, and a ferry.

small sailing boats serviced mills on both sides of the creek

Market Street, the old toll road to Philadelphia from Wilmington and points south of the village, has always been the main street; it is distinguished by the row of sturdy houses built of local Brandywine granite by the mill owners of the period.

Brandywine Academy was built in 1798 with land was given by John Dickinson; it served as a school for about 75 years, and housed the founding groups and original worshipers of the two churches founded in the Village, St. John’s Episcopal and the Brandywine Methodists. Founded as a private school, the Academy became part of the Wilmington Public School system as well as a branch of the Wilmington Institute Free Library.

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