Willingtown Square is a collection of four historic buildings, dating from 1748 to the early 1800s. In 1976, these buildings were moved to the 500 block of Market Street from various sites throughout Wilmington to save them from demolition.
The four structures were built when mercantile and shipping activities were prevalent along the Christina River, and grain mills lined the banks of the Brandywine.
Willingtown Square is named after Thomas Willing, who in 1731, laid out the village that was to become the city of Wilmington. The houses found in Willingtown Square have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
These buildings can be viewed from the outside, and the Willingtown Square Gallery is open with changing exhibits. The buildings themselves are not open to the public.
*The Cook-Simms House, circa 1778*
William Cook built his house at 101 East Fourth Street in what was then the heart of downtown Wilmington. Dr. John Simms, who made and sold herbal medicines, bought the house in 1840, to serve as his shop and residence. He updated the building with large windows and an awning. The building displays Flemish-bond brick with a belt course between the first and second floors.
*The Coxe Houses, circa 1801*
Thomas Coxe, who owned a brickyard, built these houses in 1801, for his two daughters Margaret and Catherine. Built like Philadelphia "trinity" or "Band Box" houses then popular, each unit had only one room on each of its three floors. Members of the Coxe family lived in these houses, until 1957. Like other buildings in the square, these houses consist of Flemish bond brickwork, a molded water table, and two belt courses separating the stories.
*The Jacobs House, circa 1748*
The Jacobs House is a two-story brick structure with pent eaves. Griffith Minshall built the house, which features Flemish bond brickwork with glazed headers and a molded water table, for Job and Mary Jacobs, in 1748. Mr. Minshall included the Jacobs initials and the date of construction in the front wall of the house.
*The Dingee Houses, circa 1771 and 1773*
The Dingee brothers built their houses side by side. Jacob's, 1771, uses old-fashioned glazed headers on its Flemish bond bricks. The brothers were cabinetmakers and most likely used the first floor as their workshop, living upstairs.