The Hermitage was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. It was destroyed by fire in 2007. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. Adaptation copyright © 2009, The Gombach Group.
The Hermitage is a two-story brick structure laid mostly in common bond, and is composed of three distinct portions.
The 2 1/2-story west wing, believed to be the oldest, contains a center office with two flanking rooms. This is the only section of the house that is laid in Flemish bond. The detailing in these flanking rooms is rather more ornate than that of the center room; all three are belted with chair rails. An interior hall to the east is flanked by two staircases that give access to a similarly disposed second floor.
The north, or back, portion contains a kitchen with brick segmental-arch fireplace and a pantry, with access through an enclosed winding stair to servants' quarters above.
The south, or main section, is a three bay, left-entry structure with an east-west ridge line, built in 1818. Over the portal is a closed-shutter false window that balances the composition of the south facade, which is additionally upset by the offset of the two front dormers. In the interior, a quarter-circular curved wall separates the entry vestibule from the south room. A mahogany paneled door, curved to match the wall line, permits access to the south room. Unlike the marble mantel in the south room, the north room has a wood mantel with Adam detailing and matched chair rails and baseboards. Both rooms are edged with shallow cornices. On the third floor of the south portion, the attic is finished in plaster over lath.
The Hermitage is shake-roofed with tin at the pitch valleys on and the flat "widow walk" section on the roof of the south wing.
In April of 1801, Senator Nicholas Van Dyke bought 141 acres of land near the town of New Castle as a farm and summer retreat for his family. He built the present house, apparently in several stages, from 1801 to 1818.
Nicholas Van Dyke had built his town house in 1799, directly opposite the Amstel House, where he had been born in 1770, son of a governor of Delaware. He was graduated with honors from Nassau Hall, later Princeton University, and was admitted to the bar in 1791. His political career commenced in 1799 when he served in the Delaware House of Representatives, and continued until his death in 1826. After 1816 he was almost continuously a member of the United States Senate.
"A Day in Old New Castle, 1963"
Biographical and Genealogical History of the State of Delaware. Vol. I. 1899.
Eberlein, Harold Donaldson, and Hubbard, Cortlandt V.D. Historic Houses and Buildings of Delaware. Dover: Public Archives, 1963.
Sunday Star. June 12, 1949, p.9.