By Madeline Dunn, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ historian and National Register of Historic Places coordinator.
The Grantham-Edwards-McComb House was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on Jan. 19, 2016. It is a two-and-one-half-story, Federal style, brick dwelling constructed between 1804 and 1817. Located in New Castle County in a mid-20th-century housing development known as Llangollen Estates, this historic property was listed because of its multiple areas of significance including architecture, agriculture, commerce and transportation. Though originally constructed by Isaac Grantham, it served as a tenant farm throughout most of the 19th century. During the 1830s, a Pennsylvania farmer and Quaker abolitionist named Edward Edwards purchased the property and added a brick kitchen and dining room. After the American Civil War, Col. Henry S. McComb purchased the property and constructed an additional two-story brick section. After McComb’s death in 1882, his descendants continued to own the property for more than 60 years.
McComb is perhaps the property’s most famous owner. As a successful farmer, owner of multiple properties in New Castle County as well as within the city of Wilmington, McComb was primarily known as a manufacturer of leather goods. Having been awarded numerous contracts by the U.S. government, McComb manufactured supplies such as tents, knapsacks, and other leather products for the Union Army during the Civil War. This native-born Delawarean also served with the 5th Delaware Infantry Regiment during the war, was garrisoned at Fort Delaware, and served guard duty on the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad from Perryville to Baltimore until 1862. After the war, McComb’s interest in the battle-scarred infrastructure of railroads led him to become one of the founders of the Union Pacific Railroad. Having relocated to Mississippi, he purchased 600 acres of land and founded McComb City where he became president of the Mississippi Central Railroad and took control of the New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern Railroad.
Administered by the National Park Service, the National Register of Historic Places is the United States government’s official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects deemed worthy of preservation. A National Register listing places no obligations on private-property owners, nor does it lead to public acquisition or require public access. There are no restrictions on the use, treatment, transfer or disposition of private property. In addition, owners of historic properties listed in the National Register are eligible to apply for Delaware’s Historic Preservation Tax Credits which assists property owners in the preservation of historic buildings by providing Delaware tax credits for the substantial rehabilitation of National Register-listed properties.
The Grantham-Edwards-McComb House’s National Register nomination was prepared by graduate students from the University of Delaware’s Center for Historic Architecture and Design and was recommended for submission to the National Park Service by the New Castle County Historic Review Board as well as Delaware’s State Review Board for Historic Preservation.