Homestead & Garden
Peter Marsh Homestead
The Peter Marsh Homestead, built in 1743, served as the home of Louise & Wilbur Corkran after two centuries as a farm homestead and is today recognized on the National Register of Historic Places as a regionally significant example of its architectural style. The “mansion” became the headquarters for the founding of the Rehoboth Art League, held classes on its back porch, and became the attraction for fundraisers to support the burgeoning Art League in the 1940’s through the 1970’s. Today, the building hosts art educators, while opening its historic space for contemporary art shows. Through preservation, its historic character can serve as an ideal backdrop for the RAL’s Collection of fine art from artists who founded and shaped the regional art & cultural scene.
Historic Homestead Garden
The formal gardens seen today behind the Peter Marsh Homestead were conceived by Louise Corkran and executed in 1931. Louise and her husband, Colonel Wilbur Corkran, had just completed a renovation and expansion of the original Homestead following their purchase of the Dodd farm (now Henlopen Acres) in 1929.
Mrs. Corkran envisioned a typical American colonial garden consisting of four square plots, each of which underwent change and redevelopment over the years. In her own notes from the 1950’s, she described the garden’s five parts; the Crisscross Garden, the Chain Garden, the Tea Garden, the Herb Garden and the Sundial-Capstan Circle. The small Crown Garden was added in 1953 in honor of the coronation of Elizabeth II. Together with Mrs. Corkran’s grape arbor, all of these garden components are still in place today.
A lover of boxwoods, Mrs. Corkran traveled to Dover, Delaware to gather clippings from boxwood plants that once grew in Caesar Rodney’s garden at Poplar Grove. At its high point, the garden had more than 800 boxwoods, together with magnolias, crape myrtle, evergreens, dogwoods and various perennials. Mrs. Corkran highlighted her gardens and woodland walks on the surrounding property with anchors, chains, an ox yoke, rustic relics of the sea and bits of statuary – some of which are still visible today.
The Homestead Garden is integral to the fulfillment of the Rehoboth Art League’s mission. It serves as a backdrop for exhibitions, art shows, classes, events and as a free public park for residents and visitors alike. The Garden is cared for by volunteers who routinely donate more than 200 hours per year to tackle weeding, watering, pruning and more. However, maintenance demands, pests, infrastructure needs and plant replacement requirements are constant challenges. To assist us in maintaining the Homestead Garden, please consider making a contribution to the Rehoboth Art League today.