WOODBURN MANSION

(Governor’s Mansion)

151 Kings Highway SW, Dover, DE

(302) 739-5656

Status: Official Residence of the Governor of Delaware

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Public Domain Photo


History

The land that the mansion stands on originally belonged to the Swedish Royal Family who granted it to David Morgan in the late 17th century.

A century later it was bought by Charles Hillyard III who would build the home, that would be eventually be called Woodburn, in 1790.

Hillyard’s daughter inherited the property and her husband was the first to lease the house to the State Governor in 1820.

In 1825 the house sold to Daniel Cowgill and his wife who kept it in the family until 1912 when it was sold to a future US Senator Daniel Hastings. Hastings made numerous changes to the interior and had the reflecting pool, pillars and front porch added.

In 1918 it was bought by a retired dentist called Frank Hall who renovated the interior of house once again. When Hall died in 1953 it was proposed that the mansion become the Governor’s official residence but the State Legislature vetoed the idea.

The majority of the land was then split from the house and given to a school leaving only an acre and a half around the mansion.

In 1965 Governor Charles Terry secured the mansion for the State of Delaware and it has remained the Governor Residence ever since.

 

Paranormal Activity

Many consider this mansion to be the most haunted house in the State.

It is said there are several nice and benevolent ghosts and one rather malevolent and nasty one.

The first recording of paranormal activity was in the early 1800’s when a guest of Daniel Cowgill passed a gentleman in 18th century attire on the staircase. He later learned this apparently very solid apparition – who he took as just another guest – was, in fact, Mr Cowgill’s deceased father.

A soldier forever dressed in his uniform from the Revolutionary War is seen floating throughout the house.

The ghost a little girl in a red-checked gingham dress. She has seen since the 1940’s and is unusually seen dancing and playing in the garden.

At least one ghost has been seen helping himself to the house wine. One of the owners of the house would leave a full decanter of wine out every night only to find it emptied every morning.

As for the not so pleasant ghost: it is that of a southern slave catcher who got his head caught in the popular tree that is still on site. He got his head caught in a hole in the tree and ended up strangling himself to death. To this day his unpleasant death is replayed before witnesses.

Other Reported Activity: disembodied voices; phantom footsteps and feelings of being watched and not alone.