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James W. Flaherty, Inc. drawings

Creation: 1948-1977
Accession: 2537


James W. Flaherty Inc. was a general contractor company in Wilmington, Delaware that operated between 1949 and 1983. Consists of drawings and plans for various local properties, including du Pont family estates.


  • Creation: 1948-1977



45 item(s)

Physical Description

Rolled drawings - Items are stored in document sleeves/bags. Their respective OS (oversize) number refers to which bag they are housed in.

Historical Note

James W. Flaherty Inc. was a general contractor company in Wilmington, Delaware that operated between 1949 and 1983. The company was founded by James W. Flaherty (1901-1999) after his purchase of another local contracting firm, Stewart & Donohue. At one time that firm employed thirty men.

In 1952, Flaherty took on partners in the company. The first meeting of the new firm was held on April 8, 1952 with a slate of directors that included James W. Flaherty, W. Amos Norton (1903-1987), Charles W. Kane (1902-1971), Kathleen Flaherty (1905-1983), and Mary McCormick (dates unknown). The first officers (and new partners in the firm) of the new company were: James W. Flaherty, president; W. Amos Norton, vice president and secretary; and Charles W. Kane, treasurer. The new company purchased all of the equipment previously held by Flaherty and inherited scheduled jobs and an extensive client list. At that time, work was being done for Donald Carpenter (1899-1985), Lammot du Pont Copeland (1905-1983), Reynolds du Pont (1918-1980), and S. Hallock du Pont (1901-1974).

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, James W. Flaherty, Inc. continued to grow and became one of the preferred contactors in Wilmington. Clients included Mt. Cuba Botanical Park, ‘Winterthur,’ ‘Granogue’, ‘Calmar,’ ‘Squirrel Run,’ and Hagley Museum (the Crowninshield Dam). The officers of the company remained the same until a tragic accident on March 31, 1970 when Charles. W. Kane was killed in a bulldozer accident at ‘Windmar,’ the estate of Wihelmina Wemyss Laird Craven (1916-2008) along Kennett Pike.

Following the untimely death of Kane, the remaining officers of the company met and decided unanimously to give Kane’s widow, $5,000 for his services over the past three decades. Following the tragic death of his father, Richard Kane, employed by the company worked as a master carpenter, decided he was ready to become more involved in company’s management. He approached the partners about a buyout, which they ultimately agreed to after tense negotiations. After two decades in existence as a partnership, James. W. Flaherty, Inc. was now a sole proprietorship. Kane retained most of the same employees who had worked for his father, and also hired new ones, bringing the number of employees to more than thirty by the later part of the 1970s. The firm largely retained the same client base as it had for decades. Major projects undertaken during the tenure of Richard Kane included the visitor’s center at Winterthur, ‘Lamborn’ the residence of Richard S. du Pont (1941-), the granite bridge over the ponds at ‘Mt. Cuba,’ and a number of others.

In 1983, Kane decided to close the doors of the company and sell off the property at 1911 Liberia Street. Shortly thereafter, he opened Kane Enterprises which primarily did work at ‘Mt. Cuba’ and ‘Invergarry,’ as well as others. Kane was also subcontractor on the rebuilding of Smith’s Bridge in Montchanin in 2002. In operation from 1983 to 2005, Kane Enterprises closed when its owner, Richard Kane retired.


Items in the collection are listed by property and owner, and arranged chronologically.

Scope and Content

Consists of various plans for many local estates and churches. Included in the collection are items from Mt. Cuba, Calmar, and Squirrel Run to name a few. Also included are plans for the rectory at Sacred Heart Church in Wilmington, Delaware.

Language of Materials


Additional Description


Gift of Richard E. Kane, 2012

Processing Note

The collection title was changed from "Kane Enterprises drawings" to "James W. Flaherty, Inc. drawings."

The current title "James W. Flaherty, Inc. drawings" is more accurate and meets the professional archival description standards for collection titles outlined in "Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)."

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

James W. Flaherty, Inc. drawings
Andrew D. Engel
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
Script of description:

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA