A Remnant of Business
W.S. Burton opened his hardware store in Seaford in 1893. Inside, he adorned it with shelves, fixtures, and a long wooden counter. And he chose one of the most fashionable architectural elements of the day for the outside: sheet-metal sheathing that imitated cut stone. That façade, he knew, would impress and entice passersby, and it also offered him low maintenance costs and a fireproof sheath for the wooden building.
The sheathing was only so fireproof, however. In 2012, the Burton Brothers Hardware Store was irreparably damaged by a fire, ending an almost 120-year-old business.
Parts of the Burton Brothers store survive, nonetheless, in the Seaford Historical Society. The Society’s museum includes displays about Delaware’s Native American history, black river pilots from the town, and twentieth-century industries. At their second site, the Governor Ross Mansion and Plantation, you can peruse the home of Delaware’s popular pre-Civil War governor. One of the Society’s most impressive spaces is a recreation of a Seaford wharf of a century ago, complete with twinkling stars. You can peek into storefronts, examine an oyster-packing house, and help unload a small boat.
And you can visit a recreation of a portion of the Burton Brothers store. The Society saved a number of fixtures and a portion of the venerable wooden counter from the hardware. Installed in a room just off the wharf, they evoke the long history of one everyday Seaford business.
Visit the Seaford Historical Society
Location: 203 High St., Seaford, DE 19973 (Society) and 23669 Ross Station Road, Seaford, DE 19973 (Gov. Ross Mansion and Plantation).
Phone: (302) 628-9828
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 1-4PM (Society), Saturday and Sunday 1-4PM (Mansion).