(Note: Our thanks to Necia Becks and Joanna Wilson of DNREC for the information used in the following three stories.)
Re-purposed Dairy Barn Will Become Centerpiece of Community Activities and of a New State Park
"The Blue Ball Dairy Barn is the centerpiece of a new park rich in historic resources and natural beauty that will provide an open space haven for the people of this area for generations to come," said DNREC Secretary John A. Hughes during the dedication ceremony. "Along with the new Alapocas Run State Park, the barn will provide expanded recreation options in North Wilmington."
Transportation Secretary Carolann Wicks recalled the barn's days as "an eyesore and a haven for vandals" and credited partnership with DNREC and other agencies for the building's rebirth. "The adaptive reuse of the Blue Ball Dairy Barn and the Department's efforts to preserve Delaware's history, while planning for the future, is now complete. It is restored, preserved and protected."
The Blue Ball project officially began in 1999 when the Delaware Economic Development Office led the state effort to secure the North American Headquarters of AstraZeneca for Delaware. DNREC and DelDOT partnered to acquire the land and developed the master plan that includes recreational improvements and the new transportation infrastructure. This plan left 150 acres of open space, which became the core of the new Alapocas Run State Park.
The Blue Ball Dairy Barn offers multi-functional rental space for indoor and outdoor events. To learn more, call 302-577-1164 or visit www.destateparks.com . Office hours are 8:30 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday and 9:00 am to 4:00 pm Saturday and Sunday.
Blue Ball Dairy Barn Is Home to the Delaware Folk Art Collection
Galleries Open to the Public 9am - 4pm Daily
Over 50 artists from all over the state and from all walks of life are represented in the Delaware Folk Art Collection, now exhibited in display space at the new Blue Ball Dairy Barn.
The collection is maintained by DNREC and is one of only three state-owned folk art collections in the United States, and the only one to have a permanent home in a facility like the Blue Ball Dairy Barn. The more than 120 works preserve and share our state's rich culture in media from traditional paint on canvas, to chainsaw carving, to creation of Native American dance regalia.
The work is presented in five categories: Root Cultures, including Native American, Amish and African-American expressions; Art from Work, related to the artist's means of making a living; New Traditions, representing Delaware's newest citizens who come from all over the globe to create Delaware's unique cultural heritage; Fine Folk, which mirrors some of the facets of fine art in a folk context; and Salvage and Outsider art.
According to Michael Miller, manager of the Delaware Folklife Program, "Folk art doesn't rely on mainstream forms or categories, but instead simply expresses its creator's identity, experience and values. Most of all, it's a powerful expression of self. It says, 'this is who I am.'"
Barn's New Beginning - Builds on Interesting History
Ever wonder why it's call the "Blue Ball" Properties?
In the 1700s, the property under today's renovated Blue Ball Dairy Barn was part of land occupied by the original Blue Ball Inn, which was located at the crossroads of Concord Pike and Foulk Road. The inn took its name from the blue ball that innkeepers hung on a post outside as a signal for stagecoach drivers to stop for passengers. Among the Inn's most prominent owners was John Dickinson, Delaware's "Penman of the Revolution." His wife Mary continued to operate the Inn after John's death in 1808.
Later, the Inn became a tenant farmhouse, as it was in 1908 when industrialist Alfred I. duPont bought the Blue Ball land. Alfred I., along with cousins Pierre S. and T. Coleman duPont, were early leaders of the E. I. duPont de Nemours Company, now known as the DuPont Company, and A. I. was a benefactor who founded the A. I. duPont Children's Hospital and the Nemours Foundation health system.
The dairy barn was built to supply duPont's 300-acre Nemours estate. In an era when many dairy barns were being closed due to unclean conditions, duPont instructed his contractor to build a barn that would be both fireproof and sanitary. They used steel reinforced concrete, along with innovative ventilation and drainage systems to meet duPont requirements and made it a model of early 20th century modern thinking and practical technology - similar to the kind of 21st century thinking that has gone into its modern day recreation as a community center.
When A. I. duPont died in 1935, his estate was split up and leased to tenant farmers until 1977, when the barn was abandoned and the former inn was demolished to make way for the widening of the Concord Pike.
Can-Do Playground Open!
The playground features 26,000 square feet of play space and a garden where children with sensory, developmental or physical disabilities can play side-by-side with fully-abled children. The playground is located just off of Weldin Road, near the entrance to the golf course.
Governor Minner Dedicates Completed Blue Ball Dairy Barn
On Saturday, March 3, 2007, Governor Ruth Ann Minner joined officials from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) and the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO) in dedicating the restored and enhanced Blue Ball Dairy Barn.
In addition, the barn's exhibit galleries, featuring Delaware's collection of more than 120 folk art works, also opened to the public and the former historic dairy barn began its new life as a multi-purpose community space for meetings, educational programs, special events and private rentals.
Blue Ball Dairy Barn Is Going "Green"
Water savings, energy efficiency and selection of environmentally-friendly building materials are all a part of the plan for the conversion of the historic Blue Ball Dairy Barn to a community center. When completed, DNREC will apply for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for the project. construction along the Blue Ball Barn The LEED Green Rating System® is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. The photo above is part of a rain water retention system that will collect water from the roof of the barn for non-potable uses.