Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Castle, The (Delta Phi Epsilon House)

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Institution Name: Widener University
Original/Historic Place Name: Richard Wetherill Family Residence
Location on Campus: 1325 Potter St.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1884original construction Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: stone
Walls: stone
Roof: terra cotta tile
ca. 1884-1970private residence
ca. 1970-present (2007)Greek letter society (Delta Phi Epsilon sorority house)

Significance: architecture, history
Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

The Wetherill family was central to the social and industrial success of the city of Chester. Richard and Robert Wetherill were considered pioneers in the establishing of Chester as a major industrial center in the late nineteenth century. Their names were known worldwide especially to the iron and steel industries. The Wetherill Company erected a foundry and machine shop that became one of the largest and best known in the United States, Canada, and Mexico for the manufacturing of the Coreless engine (invented by them), cable cars, elevator machinery, and ships' boilers and steam engines. Richard eventually became highly successful in the banking business. He was president of several banks and became a major financier of the time. Three of his sons were educated at Pennsylvania Military College. The family's final remains are entombed in a Neo-classical revival mausoleum in nearby Chester Rural Cemetery.

In 1884, Richard built the impressive, massive, Gothic revival residence dominating the corner of 14th and Potter Streets. Known then and to this day as "the Castle," it is almost a miniature of his brother Robert's home, "Greystone," which occupies a full city block just five blocks away at 20th Street. Widener University acquired the Castle in the 1970s and has used it as a sorority residence.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Ashmead, Henry Graham. History of Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, PA: L. H. Evans and Company, 1884.

Who's Who in Delaware County. Pennsylvania: [s.n.?], 1926.

Chester (PA) Times (Delaware County Daily Times).

II. Location of other data:
University: Library, Special Collections, Facilities Management Office
Other: Delaware County Historical Society; Archives, Widener University; Archives, Wolfgang Memorial Museum

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