After many years of neglect, the Forwood School has met a sad fate, the bulldozer. The land had been donated by Forwood ancestors for a school in 1799. It was believed to be the oldest extant building in the original 13 states that had been used for a school.
This strikes me as such a sad sign that the almighty dollar still rules when a developer sees dollar signs when preservationists see our living past being destroyed. As a preservationist and homeowner in the adjacent neighborhood, South Graylyn Crest, this strikes me especially hard. And I really don't look forward to seeing the small stone structure (from the sketch presented at a well attended meeting 4 years ago, it looks like a stone outhouse) they say they will build in memory of the Forwood School.
Plans had been submitted for town homes and shops. I don't wish these people bad luck, but remember the subdivision built over a cemetery in Poltergeist? And there is still more bad news for the neighbors. Even though there are traffic lights at each end of the block on Silverside Road and the entrance to a shopping plaza across the street, as well as a diner and plant nursery next door, they are probably going to add to the scrum by putting a third traffic light at the entrance to this development. Talk about adding to air pollution from the stop and go traffic and rush hour chaos, this will create a doozy of a situation.
The only good news I can give you is that situations like this have been coming up more and more because of development pressures and the fact that Delaware is such a small state, there is such limited space available. And when it comes to an historic property with a bit of land around it, we are helpless to act.
A group of preservationists are now working with County Council members Dee Durham, John Cartier (representing the area near the school), and David Carter to revise our historic ordinances, especially pertaining to "demolition by neglect" . This is a situation where the owners of a property do nothing to maintain it, and when it comes victim to vandals, rain coming in through holes in the roof, etc., the owner throws up their hands and claims they have no choice but to apply for a demolition permit. There is another situation going on right now just south of the C&D Canal where even though developers got their building permit contingent on not tearing down the rural Gothic Houston farmhouse and granary, they have applied for a demolition permit due to their gross neglect of the property. Cross your fingers for us, because we don't plan on letting this property get wiped off the earth.