Rockwood History

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Rockwood's history

Built in 1851 as the retirement estate of Wilmington native Joseph Shipley, Rockwood reflects his love of English architecture and landscape design. 

In 1895, the Bringhurst family transformed the estate with a love of life, family and tradition. The mansion stands tall today as a reminder of the past, exhibiting upper-crust family life from the turn of the 20th Century through World War I. Original furnishings, memorabilia, historic photos and an extensive family clothing collection help tell the Bringhursts’ story, as guides share tales of their wealthy lifestyle, ancestors and servants. Modest admission fees now help maintain the Bringhursts’ home of more than 70 years.

The 72-acre site has a picnic grove, gardens, urban wildlife habitat, pet-friendly parkland and paved trails linking to the Northern Delaware Greenway – open daily without charge.

Rockwood's mission

The mission of the site – owned, maintained and operated by New Castle County under County Executive Thomas P. Gordon -- is to serve residents and visitors through education and recreation, while preserving and maintaining the historic 19th Century mansion, its collections and grounds. The county advances that mission by presenting an ongoing variety of youth- and family-friendly public programming in the historic buildings and on the grounds, as well as hosting signature annual events and offering facility rental. The county is committed to past owners’ intention for the unique site to benefit the public.