Lewes HPARC formally approves Daisey house demo

Panel accepts design for new house, ending contentious process
September 12, 2023

It is now only a matter of time before the Daisey house at 331 Chestnut St. in Lewes is demolished and replaced with a new, modern dwelling.

The Lewes Historic Preservation Architectural and Review Commission unanimously, and formally, approved the demolition of the house at its meeting Sept. 7.

The commission also unanimously approved the concept design for the new family home that will be built on the corner lot. The only step remaining is for the design to go through a chair and staff review to finalize details, such as brickwork, windows and exterior colors.

“I think it will be a real attribute to the overall streetscape,” said Commissioner Michael Weider. “The actual design along Orr Street, with the little porch off the side, does sort of mimic what was there.”

The decisions mean the Daisey family will no longer have to appear before HPARC, ending an often-contentious process that started 10 months ago.

“It was a very challenging process. It’s not something that’s enjoyable. It’s stressful for everybody. We’ve applied the process and our legal documents and we’ll live with it,” said HPARC Chair Barbara Warnell after the meeting.

The demolition decision came exactly one week after HPARC voted 4-2 to change the status of the house from contributing to the Lewes Historic District to non-contributing. That decision paved the way to for the house to be demolished.

The Daiseys fought HPARC’s original decision to keep the house as a contributing structure. The family ultimately won by refuting two independent studies that agreed with the commission. They presented detailed evidence that their home had undergone so many exterior changes over the last six decades that it no longer met the commission’s criteria of a historic home. 

As the Daiseys left the Rollins Center, they expressed relief that the process was over, but said they would go through it all again. 

“This was a learning process for us and for the commission. I think they were used to things being a certain way and really didn’t know the rules they were supposed to operate under,” said Sarah Daisey Minor. “When things are regulated and set up in a manner where you have lack of consideration for people’s economic status, it disproportionately affects people of color. I don’t believe [the commission] is racist, but I think they’re enforcing a racist system.”

The family also thanked members of the community for their support. 

“We had people writing letters for us, people coming to meetings – people we didn’t even know,” said Daisey Minor.

The Daiseys have one year to demolish their house and rebuild.

At the Sept. 7 meeting, HPARC also unanimously approved the elevation of the house at 208 E. Market St. as required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The commission also approved an addition and exterior renovations.

For a home at 131 Franklin Ave., the commission unanimously approved an addition, new fence and removal of a chimney.


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