Hosted at the historic Parson Thorne Mansion in Milford, the Antiques Market at Silver Hill will be held on Saturday, May 3 from 9 to 3 at 501 NW Front Street in Milford. The event will feature antique dealers from Delaware and Maryland selling antiques and vintage collectibles including period, country and primitive furniture and decorative items, oriental rugs, linens, porcelain, silver, glass and Delaware collectibles. Sponsored by the Milford Historical Society, proceeds from admissions will benefit the preservation of the Parson Thorne Mansion on Silver Hill.
According to the Delaware Public Archives, Parson Thorne Mansion lies within a 1,750 acre Duke of York land patent called Saw Mill Range granted to Henry Bowman in 1680. The first known resident of this portion of the tract was Joseph Booth, who purchased 510 acres from the Bowman family in 1730. The center brick section of the present structure was built by John Cullen after his purchase of 263 acres in 1746. Reverend Syndenham Thorne, an Episcopal clergyman who was instrumental in Milford’s development, bought the property in the 1780s and is interred on the grounds.
John M. Clayton, United States Senator and Secretary of State under President Zachary Taylor, spent a portion of his boyhood at the residence. Members of the Clayton family lie at rest nearby as well. This was also the home of philanthropist Col. Benjamin Potter and Dr. William Burton, Governor of Delaware during the early years of the Civil War. Col. Henry Fiddeman, founder of the First National Bank of Milford, came into ownership of the mansion in 1858 and changed the Colonial Georgian architecture to Gothic Victorian. The Draper family purchased the property in 1916. In 1961, the building and grounds, then known as Silver Hill, were conveyed to the Milford Historical Society by J. Richard Draper. The Parson Thorne Mansion was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.
During the event on Saturday, May 3 individuals will be encouraged to enjoy the house as members of the Milford Historical Society will give tours through the historical home. F. Brooke Clendaniel, Trustee Emeritus of the Milford Historical Society, acknowledges that through the hard work of generations of Milfordians, the home has been preserved for future generations to visit and experience what life was like over three unique centuries.
Unique from a typical museum, Clendaniel states that “The idea is to interpret life in the 1800s and 1900s and to give the appearance of what the property would have looked like.” In addition to the main living quarters, a servants house still remains on the property. “The property allows people to realize how different life was and to interpret both sides of society.”
Ralph W. Prettyman, Milford Historical Society Trustee and Treasurer, explained that the house is unique from both an architectural perspective and the significance of several of the occupants over the centuries. Looking at the mansion, it can be seen that the house was built in layers as new styles became prominent over the years. The interior of the main quarters reflects a colonial style while the two wings are built in a Victorian Gothic style. Among the occupants Prettyman highlighted John and James Clayton that helped to build the early business section in Milford through their mills and tannery businesses and Governor William Burton who assisted in keeping Delaware part of the Union during the Civil War even as parts of Southern Delaware hosted many Southern sympathizers.
“[Parson Thorne Mansion] continues to be worthy of preservation and it remains something that people from Milford and outside of Milford can appreciate,” commented Prettyman. “It connects people to the history of not only Milford but the history of Delaware.”
During the Antiques Market at Silver Hill this Saturday, the Milford Historical Society expects between 400 and 500 visitors. Antique dealers from Delaware and Maryland will sell antiques and vintage collectibles including period, country and primitive furniture and decorative items, oriental rugs, linens, porcelain, silver, glass and Delaware collectibles. A group of plein air artists from the Mispillion Art League will be on location as members of the Milford Garden Club will have their annual plant sale. For more information, individuals can contact the Milford Historical Society by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow Parson Thorne on Twitter.