42 The Strand, New Castle
This handsome redbrick mansion, one of the finest examples of Federal architecture in the United States, was built in 1804 by George Read II, a prominent Delaware lawyer whose father was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. George Read married his cousin, Mary Thompson, and they brought up their seven children in this house.
Situated on the banks of the Delaware River, the 22-room, 14,000-square-foot mansion is known for its elaborately carved woodwork, handsome relief plasterwork, and delicate fanlights. Its second owner, William Couper, who bought the property in the 1840s, added the garden, which encompasses 1.5 acres. The garden is divided into three sections: a formal parterre flower garden, a specimen garden, and a kitchen garden.
The property was bought in 1920 by Mr. and Mrs. Philip D. Laird, who refurbished the house and furnished it in Colonial Revival style. They extended their taste for Colonial Revival to the garden as well.
When Mrs. Laird died in 1975, the estate was donated to the Historical Society of Delaware, and the house has since been restored to its original Federal-style elegance.
Guided tours of the mansion are conducted by the historical society. Also available are guided walking tours of New Castle, including visits to three of the town’s 18th-century buildings.
Open Tues.–Sun. except holidays, Mar.–Dec.; Jan.–Feb. weekends only, with weekday tours by appointment. Admission charged.