Sussex County Delaware

Dozens Rally to
Save Brick Hotel

The Story | Our Opinion | Your Opinion

The Story ...

Sky Brady, The Brick Hotel, Georgetown, Delaware

Photos: Sky Brady (center) leads "The Brick Hotel" song he wrote with a fellow songwriter in Philadelphia.

GEORGETOWN -- The historic Brick Hotel will not be torn down or moved after all.

Jeffrey W. Bullock, Delaware Gov. Thomas R. Carper's chief of staff, said on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 1999, that the state will try to incorporate the 160-year-old building into its new Court of Chancery or sell the structure and find a new location for the court.

Bullock added that if the state sells the building, it will be looking to recover the $675,000 it paid Wilmington Trust back in September.

The announcement came just hours after dozens of Sussex Countians protested the state of Delaware's proposed demolition of the former hotel on The Circle in Georgetown at a rally in front of the hotel on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 1999.

About 75 people gathered in the latest effort to save the 160-year-old structure, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

During the rally, they handed out t-shirts, chanted protests and sang a song, "The Brick Hotel", protesting the hotel's planned demolition. The song was written last Wednesday by songwriters Sky Brady of Georgetown and Pat Boland of Philadelphia.

The state planned to demolish the former hotel, post office, courthouse and bank on April 1, 2000, to make way for the new Court of Chancery unless a suitable option could be found. The state also offered to sell the building for $1 and pay $50,000 toward moving costs to anyone willing to move it.

The state's intentions raised the hackles of Sussex Countians, who didn't want to see one of their historic structures demolished and didn't want to see the character of The Circle changed. In addition to the rally, the Georgetown Historical Society printed T-shirts ("Don't Tear Down Our Brick Hotel") and circulated petitions and initiated letter writing campaigns to save the structure.

The House of Representatives also passed a resolution last week urging Gov. Carper to stop the demolition until another solution could be found.

"All of the organizations I belong to, we'd like to see someone with vision turn it back into a hotel and an upscale restaurant so Georgetown could become a destination instead of passing through The Circle on the way to the beach," said Sue Barlow, president of the Georgetown Historical Society.

"We're not against the Court of Chancery. We just don't want it here, on this site. They can put the court someplace else."

Barlow said the loosely organized protestors had written to nearly all of the state's legislators and presented a petition with 800 signatures to Gov. Carper.

Barlow said the building is in good shape, and that besides its age, it is historically significant to the community because it once served as a hotel for judges and lawyers trying cases in the county courthouse back before the automobile made it possible for them to commute back and forth. It also served as a post office from 1941-43 and as a temporary courthouse from 1837-1841.

Vincent P. Meconi, secretary of administrative services for the state of Delaware, said he received about 8 inquiries into the building but no firm commitments.

In Our Opinion ...

It was certainly good to see the State of Delaware and Gov. Thomas R. Carper listen to their constituents when they decided to scrap plans to tear down or move the Brick Hotel on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 1999.

Earlier in the day, about 75 protestors rallied on The Circle in Georgetown to try to save the hotel from demolition, and the state and Gov. Carper heard them.

We also applaud the state's decision to try to incorporate the hotel into a new Court of Chancery building and if not possible, find a new location for the courthouse and sell the former hotel, courthouse, bank and post office to another buyer to recover at least the $675,000 the state paid for the building.

We made that very recommendation ourselves earlier this week, and feel it is a much more viable solution than selling the building for $1 and doling out another $50,000 of taxpayer money to help a buyer move the structure.

As for the Court of Chancery, if it can't be merged with the existing Brick Hotel, there are plenty of available sites around Georgetown, particularly on U.S. 113, a major artery in the state that has long been home to other state and county government buildings. If it has to, the state should have little trouble finding a suitable location for its new courthouse.

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