Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research, Inc., is an internationally recognized leader in wildlife rehabilitation. Their facility is located in Newark, Delaware, on land leased from New Castle County that includes a historic farmhouse and barn originally owned by John C. Vansant. Property records indicate that Vansant acquired the land in 1788. The house dates to 1810 and the barn to 1936.
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In the 18th Century, mixed farming was common. However, throughout the 19th Century, as the population increased, the average farm size decreased. Agricultural practices turned to efforts that would create greater crop yields, and efforts shifted from mixed farming to specialized products. By 1850, dairy and livestock farming predominated, and oats, wheat, and butter were sold as cash crops. Farms whose fields had been eroded and exhausted from years of constant cultivation rebounded and began providing fruits, meat, and dairy items to the new urban markets in Wilmington. Increased crop yields were due, in part, to the limestone deposits in the area which were quarried and burned by lime kilns to produce lime that replenished soil.
Also in the 19th Century, the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore Railroad reached Newark, and the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal was completed in 1829. These two significant regional transportation improvements greatly facilitated the transport of people and goods to and from Delaware.
The Vansant property remained an active farm until 1972. It is now listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
John C. Vansant negotiated a land swap with James Black to acquire 121 acres.
A mud-walled dwelling and a log kitchen were constructed on the property.
John C. Vansant left ownership of the property to his children through his will. John C. Vansant II owned and occupied the property for forty years, during when several improvements to the property and its agricultural operations were made. The majority of these improvements, including construction of the current house and acquisition/construction of a lime kiln, were performed between 1804 and 1816.
The John C. Vansant House was constructed.
The foundation of the barn was constructed in 1828 and the barn itself completed construction in (c)1936.
John C. Vansant II passed on and left joint ownership of the property to Ellen Vansant and John C. Vansant III. The property consisted of the house, barn, lime kiln, and a springhouse constructed of stone, which was located south/southeast of the house. The barn was 47 x 30 feet in size. John C. Vansant III eventually acquired single ownership of the property.
Ownership of the property remained within the Vansant family until 1865.
The property was sold to Robert Taylor, who made no significant changes.
During this period, the property changed hands several times. A few changes were made to the property, including the construction of a stone wall extending south from the wagon and tractor shed.
Yolanda Brown purchased 125 acres, which included the core area of the Vansant House Property, for $15,000. Brown’s purchase around that time also included three other tracts in the Middle Run Valley. Brown maintained the land and its structures as a working agricultural property in conjunction with the other three tracts until 1972.
During Brown’s ownership, several structures were built, including:
Chicken House (c. 1936, now demolished)
Dog Kennel (c. 1950, now demolished)
Stone and Frame Shed (c. 1936)
Frame Shed (c. 1936, now demolished)
Frame Shed (c. 1936, now demolished)
Chicken House/Frame Shed with Quonset Hut Roof (c. 1936, now demolished)
Wagon and Tractor Shed (c. 1936)
Corn Crib (c. 1936)
Silo (c. 1940)
World War II Watchtower (c. 1943, now demolished)
Paddock and Paddock Area (c. 1936)
Barn (completed (c) 1936)
The property was left in Brown’s will in equal shares to several parties. No major changes to the property or its structures were made.
The property was purchased by New Castle County. In 1989, it was leased to Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research, a non-profit, licensed, wildlife rehabilitation center. Since 1980, several structures have been built, including outdoor aviaries, a large flight cage for birds of prey, and a storage shed.
The property was listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
The property continues to be maintained by Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research, an internationally recognized, licensed, non-profit wildlife rehabilitation organization that cares for over 2,000 injured, orphaned and oiled native wild birds each year.