"If you lived here, you would be home now" is the motto of Bridgeville, a town off Route 13 between Greenwood and Seaford. It is the oldest community in western Sussex County. A small group of houses had been built along the present Main Street by the turn of the 19th century. The settlement was known as Bridge Branch for the nearby stream, which was crossed by a bridge as early as 1730. Early 19th century industries included a water-powered mill, tanyard, charcoal furnace and fruit-drying business. The growth of the town accelerated greatly upon the arrival of the railroad in 1856.
Two Delaware governors hailed from Bridgeville. Peter Causey served from 1855-59, and William Cannon was governor during much of the Civil War. Bridgeville was also home to Edward Willis Redfield, an impressionist painter. The name Willis might ring some bells; actor Bruce Willis is descended from this family, and several of his relatives still live in Delaware.
Exploring Bridgeville today
Bridgeville is probably best known today as the home of the World Championship Punkin Chunkin event. Since 1926, it has also been home to Rapa Scrapple, the world’s No. 1-selling scrapple according to its website. And, of course, Bridgeville is home to the popular annual Apple Scrapple Festival each autumn. It's absolute heaven for antiques and collectibles shoppers, too.
The Bridgeville Historical Society is at the intersection of Delaware Avenue and Williams Street. It was founded in 1976 by a group of individuals interested in preserving the history of the Bridgeville community. They purchased and restored the first firehouse from 1911 and made it into a small museum. The adjoining property was purchased for a small community park complete with a bandstand for summer concerts and activities. The Old Firehouse Museum is open from 1 to 4 p.m., the first Sunday of each month between April and October.
When you visit Bridgeville, be sure not to miss:
T.S. Smith & Sons, 8887 Redden Road. This 800-acre, family-owned farm dates back to 1907, maintains a farm store, and hosts u-pick and lots of popular events throughout the year. Now operated by great-grandsons of the founder, it is the oldest apple, peach and nectarine operation in Delaware. During World War II the chicken houses in this area, including one on the T.S. Smith property, housed German POWs. At night the prisoners would go out on the town, and in the morning they'd return to the prison camp. When they were released after the war, many prisoners found wives and stayed. For more information, go to www.tssmithandsons.com.
Bridgeville Emporium, 105 Market St. The emporium offers an eclectic mix of antiques and collectibles. For more information, go to www.bridgevilleemporium.com.
Downtown Alley, 112 Market St. Everything is offered from grandmother's attic to everyday home decor, furniture and gifts. On the side of the building is a mural painted by renowned Delaware artist Jack Lewis, depicting Southern Delaware historic scenes.
The Church Mouse Consignment Boutique & Art Gallery, 201 Market St. Operated by Union United Methodist Church, a percentage of what is sold supports the church's various missions.
Antique Alley, 18208 Sussex Highway. Over 70 different dealers stock more than 125 booths in 20,000 square feet. Wares include furniture, primitives, clocks, shabby chic, jewelry, railroad items, antique tools and more. The alley also contains a snack and café area with free coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. For more information, go to www.antiquealleyde.com.
Jimmy's Grille & Catering, 18541 S. Main St. Country-style diner serving old-school American fare including fried chicken and dumplings. For more information, go to www.jimmysgrille.org.
Jeff's Tap Room, 416 Market St. With live music, cold beer and American food favorites, Jeff's is known for its burgers and offers a variety of specialty burgers. In business for more than 46 years, Jeff's Tap Room is family-owned. For more information, go to www.jeffstaproomandgrill.com/home.aspx.
Tony's Pizza & Pasta Italian Restaurant, 613 S. Main St. Serving flavorful food for more than 20 years.
As always, safe travels and watch your speed as you travel through our small towns. Speed limits are enforced. To do more armchair exploring of Southern Delaware, go to www.VisitSouthernDelaware.com, then go take a ride!