Saint Georges, New Castle County, Delaware (DE) 19709

Saint Georges

New Castle County, Delaware

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Saint Georges was incorporated as a town in 1825 and dissolved as a municipality in 1940.

The history of Saint Georges [†] relates primarily to the changes in transportation in this section of the county over a period of three centuries. Roads, a canal, bridges, and highways have all crossed this spot in central New Castle County. Settlement began in the late seventeenth century when a bridge over Georges Creek was erected. This bridge became a link on what was an important north-south road between New Castle and Lewes beginning in the colonial period. In 1762, this route officially became part of the King's Highway. This road passed through a settlement on its main street. Because of its position on this road, Saint Georges was a stop on a regional stage coach line.

When the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal opened in 1829, Saint Georges entered a boom period that lasted until the 1880s. This east-west trade route substantially reduced the travel distance between the Delaware River and Chesapeake Bay. Local markets gained easier access to Philadelphia and Baltimore. A canal lock was located at Saint Georges, making it a point of activity along the water route. Both goods and passengers traveled the canal. The Ericsson Line of passenger steam ships was active on the canal from 1844 to circa 1920. Most of the buildings in the village were constructed during these peak years of activity on the canal.

Twentieth century change to the local transportation system slowed the growth of the village. In 1919, the federal government bought the canal and converted it to a sea level canal by 1927. Without the lock, there was no longer any reason for boats to stop at Saint Georges. But at the same time, changes in overland transportation brought a new focus to the village. The construction of DuPont Highway between 1916 and 1923 placed Saint Georges on Delaware's first modern highway. The southbound lane followed Main Street, and Broad Street was used as the northbound lane. These streets merged at the edge of the canal before crossing the bridge.

The popularity of DuPont Highway resulted in its expansion two decades later. In 1942, the highway was rerouted to bypass Saint Georges on its west side and a new bridge was built replacing the one at the foot of Main Street. This action removed through-traffic from the village, since the old bridge was actually removed. This was the first time in its history that Saint Georges was not an active part of a regional transportation system. As a result, the village ceased growing and lost its commercial functions.

Because of its position in a regional transportation system, Saint Georges functioned as a commercial and shipping center serving travelers and the local population.

In the eighteenth century the village had two hotels, which were also stage coach stops, at least one store, and several residences. After the opening of the canal, Saint Georges became a more active commercial center. In addition to having hotels, there were several stores; a couple of them were drugstores. Various tradesmen lived in town, but is it not known if they sold their wares from their homes. Census records show that tailors, shoemakers, coach makers, a clock maker, a barber, bakers, seamstresses, and others lived in the village. During the canal period, the village's two churches and a lodge hall were built. A library was organized, although a library building was never constructed. The post office was located in several different buildings over time.

In the 1920's, the change in transportation activity from the canal to DuPont Highway also changed the types of businesses found in the village. The increase in automobile traffic is probably responsible for the introduction of an automobile service station, an automobile showroom, and two existing commercial establishments that added gasoline pumps out front. During this time a few new commercial buildings were constructed. Their uses change over time and included such functions as a confectionary and soda shop, luncheonette, meat market, bank, dance hall, saloon, and barbershops. In the 1930s a cannery was located on Delaware street at the eastern edge of the village.

Although Saint Georges is a small village, its character until the 1940s was a mixed use urban environment surrounded by an agricultural landscape and traversed by regional transportation systems.

† Adapted from: North Saint Georges Community Redevelopment Plan, 2008, County of New Castle, www.newcastlede.gov, accessed May, 2022.

Nearby Towns: Bear • Delaware City • Middletown Town •


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