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Gilpin, Van Trump & Montgomery, Inc. records

Creation: 1788-2012
Accession: 2581


Gilpin, Van Trump & Montgomery, Inc. provided insurance sales and service to property owners. The business was established in 1865 in Wilmington, Delaware, by businessman James Woolley (1818-1886). By the early-to-mid twentieth century, the company specialized in real estate sales and service, as well as mortgages, becoming Delaware's only full-service real estate organization. The records include minutes, corporate histories, publicity material, as well as information on company properties, and documents the company's rise from a small insurance company to a large, multi-service insurance, real estate, mortgage, and investment firm.


  • Creation: 1788-2012



8 Linear Feet

Historical Note

Gilpin, Van Trump & Montgomery, Inc. provided insurance sales and service to property owners. The business was established in 1865 in Wilmington, Delaware, by businessman James Woolley (1818-1886). Originally located at 4 East Sixth Street. Over a period of nearly twenty years, the business slowly outgrew the talents of just one executive. In 1883, John A. Montgomery (1868-1927) was hired to assist Woolley in the services provided by the company. Upon the death of Woolley In 1886, Montgomery consolidated the business with that of Ferdinand L. Gilpin’s (1846-1927) insurance agency, also located in Wilmington. Following this pattern, Montgomery and Gilpin absorbed the insurance agency of Edwin A. Van Trump (1868-1924) in 1904, forming the partnership of Gilpin, Van Trump & Montgomery.

The company incorporated in 1909 and moved its offices to the Du Pont Building. As brokers, they held contracts of major insurance companies such as the Aetna Casualty & Surety Company, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, and others. In 1918, the company formed J. A. Montgomery, Inc., a separate corporation with offices located in New York City that provided insurance to certain large corporate customers, while Gilpin continued to broker contracts of other insurance companies.

After the death of Montgomery in 1927, the presidency of the company passed to his son, John A. Montgomery Jr. (1898-1932), who tragically died in an airplane accident in 1932. Following these events, ownership passed to a new, younger group in management, which resulted in the election of a Board of Directors that included Robert H. Richards (1873-1951), C. Douglass Buck (1890-1965), and Francis V. du Pont (1894-1962). The board elected Richards as company president and Willard T. White (1898-1970) as executive vice president. In 1941, Gilpin, Van Trump & Montgomery, Inc. was re-activated as an affiliated organization that specialized in real estate sales and mortgages. By 1946, the company was approved to provide FHA loans and, by 1950, became a mortgage loan correspondent for Metropolitan Life Insurance Company; an additional branch facility for insurance and mortgage business was established in Dover, Delaware, in 1966.

In April 1971, a branch office for the Real Estate Sales Department opened in the company-owned Mill Creek Shopping Center at the intersection of Limestone Road and Kirkwood Highway. Gilpin developed both commercial and residential land, and quickly expanded its residential sales operations and intensified its development activities. The company grew to include residential brokerage, mortgage banking and servicing, property management, commercial/industrial sales, office leasing, land development, and corporate relocation services. Accordingly, Gilpin was the only full-service real estate organization in the state of Delaware. In January 1995, Gilpin, Van Trump & Montgomery, Inc. sold its residential real estate sales operation, known as Gilpin Realtors, to Patterson-Schwartz & Associates, Inc. Shortly thereafter, Gilpin formed a partnership known as the Gilpin Mortgage Company, which merged the residential mortgage sales operations of Gilpin and Patterson-Schwartz. The new partnership operated under Gilpin management. Gilpin, Van Trump & Montgomery, Inc. continues operations as a commercial real estate owner and developer in New Castle County, Delaware.


The Gilpin, Van Trump & Montgomery, Inc. records are arranged in three series, all of which are chronologically arranged within each subseries.

Series I: Company organization; Series II: Company properties; Series III: Oversize and rolled documents.

Scope and Content

The Gilpin, Van Trump & Montgomery, Inc. records documents the growth of the small insurance business in Delaware and its progression into one of the state’s largest real estate developers through the means of local corporate consolidation, merger, and market expansion. Additionally, the documents illustrate a keen understanding of the need for positive corporate publicity using newspapers, magazines, and photography to promote comfortable, appealing, and wholesome real estate for family living, shopping centers, or temporary hotel visits.

Much of the collection consists of history of the company and its corporate organization through public relations materials, officially released company histories (both drafts and finished products), merger documentation, as well as minutes of board meetings through 1985. Included with the PR material are company brochures and catalogs, news articles, presentations, and photographs. Of note are a collection of slides depicting various company properties, housing and community developments, commercial properties, shopping centers, and apartments throughout Delaware.

In the Company Property series, certain properties, such as the Rockford Shops, Linden Green apartments, Shops at Limestone Hills, and Mill Creek Shopping Center, are well-documented and include correspondence, issues related to zoning, appraisals, site assessments, and leasing. There is a small amount of material from Human Resources consisting of employment guidelines and benefits.

A series of oversize and rolled drawings include street, environmental, and landscape plans of the company’s various properties, both commercial and residential.

Access Restrictions

Records less than 25 years old are closed for research.

Language of Materials


Additional Description


The collection was presented to Hagley by Gilpin, Van Trump & Montgomery in November 2013.

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Gilpin, Van Trump & Montgomery, Inc. records
Dave Burdash
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