Kennett Turnpike properties map1902 May 13
- 1902 May 13
- Morison, W. S. (Person)
On January 21, 1811, the Wilmington and Kennett Turnpike Company was incorporated by the Delaware State Legislature to build a turnpike from Wilmington to the Pennsylvania border at Centerville. The road was built between 1811 and 1813 at a cost of $30,000. It was built with a 100-foot wide right-of-way, with a 20-foot travel surface. The charter of the turnpike gave Christiana Hundred the option to purchase the road in 1820 and remove the tolls. The road had two toll gates north of Wilmington. Tolls were charged based on the type of carriage or vehicle and the amount and type of cargo being carried. People who used the roadway to travel between different parts of their property, along with people traveling to a house of worship or funeral, were not charged tolls. It provided the shortest and best road for Pennsylvania farmers and manufacturers to reach markets and the tide water.
With the growth of Wilmington as an industrial city and the rise of the automobile, travelers demanded better roads. At the same time, Kennett Pike became home to the estates of many executives from the DuPont Company and other corporations. DuPont secretary and treasurer Pierre S. du Pont (1870-1954) came up with a plan to modernize the road. In 1916, du Pont's plan to modernize the road would widen the turnpike to the same width as Pennsylvania Avenue in Wilmington, eliminate hazards such as narrow bridges, widen culverts, build a bridge near Brecks Lane in Wilmington, widen it to between 18 feet and 25 feet, and grade the roadway to make it smooth and safe. Du Pont's cousin, Colonel Henry A. du Pont (1838-1926), owned half the shares of the Wilmington and Kennett Turnpike Company, sold his shares and encouraged other shareholders to do the same. As a result of Pierre S. du Pont owning nearly all the shares, the toll gates were removed.
Over the course of 1919 and 1920, work on the road made vast improvements. The engineering department of the DuPont Company would lay out and design the roadway while subcontractors would construct the road. The road was widened, paved with concrete, graded, and a bridge constructed at Brecks Lane. By the end of July 1920, the road was fully opened to vehicles. The project cost $764,000, but du Pont sold Kennett Pike to the Delaware State Highway Department for just $1.
When Delaware designated state highways by 1936, Kennett Pike was deemed DE 52, and designated to run from US 13 (French Street) in Wilmington north to PA 52 at the Pennsylvania border in Centerville. In 1939, the route was widened to four lanes between Rising Sun Lane and Barley Mill Road to alleviate traffic congestion during peak hours. The road saw other widenenings and changes in the mid-twentieth century. In 2002, Kennett Pike was designated as part of the Brandywine Valley Scenic Highway, and a section of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway in 2010.
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- Morison, W. S. (Person)
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- Kennett Turnpike properties map
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- 2021: Ashley Williams