Another Favorite Local Building is a Tribute to African-American History

August 6, 2022


I’d like to spotlight a very handsome cedar-shake one-story building adjacent to the Ace Hardware store at the Five Points intersection in Lewes.

Built in in the 1920s, it was one of more than 80 small schools built for African-American students with support from industrialist and philanthropist Pierre S. duPont several decades before desegregation. Known to many as the Nassau School, it was designed by James O. Betelle, an architect who was also a professor at Teacher’s College at Columbia University. 

A lovely home away from home

If you appreciate its arched portico, large windows and elegant woodwork, there’s a good reason for that. As noted by former Delaware State University Associate Provost Bradley Skelcher, author of African American Education in Delaware: A History Through Photographs, 1865-1930, most of the schools were “one-, two- and three-room school buildings that were designed to look like homes. The thought was that this would reduce trauma for young children because it would look like they were entering another home when they went to school.”

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