150-year-old Ross Mansion is focus of year-long party

By Lynn R. Parks

In the fall of 1860, former Gov. William Ross invited his closest friends to Seaford, to visit the "cottage" he had just built. What is now known as the Ross Mansion was sufficiently complete, he felt, that he could show it off. "That was 150 years ago," Earl Tull with the Seaford Historical Society told members of the Seaford City Council Tuesday night. "That is what we are celebrating this year." The historical society has planned a series of events, including tours of all the area homes in which members of the Ross family lived, summer concerts in the yard of the Ross Mansion, an ice cream festival, a fashion show to be held in the newly-opened Seaford District Library and in October, a grand gala. "We believe that 150 years is something that needs to be emphasized," Tull said. "This is a golden opportunity for Seaford and the surrounding communities to highlight accomplishments of the city and the area." A committee of 25 historical society members, headed by Tull and his wife, Betty, has been working on the 150-year celebration for six months. "Our anniversary will be really exciting because this group is involving youth and organizations from throughout the county and state," Seaford Museum director Sharlana Edgell told the council members. "This will be really wonderful for our town." Edgell also had praise for the historical society as a whole. "So often, we think of historical societies as just a bunch of old people," she said. "This is surely not the case with the Seaford Historical Society. This little town is so fortunate to have such a group of people." The 150-year celebration was set to get underway in February, with activities that had to be postponed because of snow.

In March, the Ross Plantation will welcome Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and will participate in the city's annual Easter egg hunt. A tour of the Ross Mansion as well as of other homes in which members of the Ross family have lived is scheduled for April. The tour will include lunch at St. Luke's Episcopal Church and a visit to the church's graveyard, where members of the Ross family are buried. Girl Scouts will be at the Ross Plantation again in May, to perform a May dance. The mansion will also open its doors at no charge during Free to the First State, sponsored annually by the state. In June, the plantation will host a Garden Day, with the help of area garden clubs. It will also host the first of three outdoor concerts, featuring the Chesapeake Brass. The plantation will participate in the city's annual Riverfest in July. It will also host a Victorian kids' camp, something that Tull said he hopes becomes an annual program for children. In addition, the Milford Community Band will perform in July. In August, the plantation will participate in the annual AFRAM festival. It will also hold an ice cream festival with ice cream from the University of Delaware's dairy farm. Music for the festival will be by the Sussex Mass Choir. The fashion show and lunch will be held in September at the library. The gala, featuring food by the Rehoboth Beach restaurant Nage, will be in October. Also in October, Ron and Sue Breeding, Seaford, will lead activities for children focused on agriculture. In November, the plantation will host a star gazing group and will hold its annual holiday workshop. The annual Victorian Christmas will be in December, as well as a walk featuring Seaford's churches.

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