Focus on the Delaware Valley, with Lora Lewis

Focus on the Delaware Valley, with Lora Lewis

August 18, Debbie Buckson, Executive Director of Historic Odessa Foundation Download

Download August 19th, 2019

Debbie Buckson, Executive Director of Historic Odessa Foundation, discussed the pristine colonial settlement, a one-of-a-kind representation of an early Delaware community.  She discussed its founding on the strategic location as a port for grain shipping, and how its fortune sank with a road bypassing the town.  Originally known as Cantwell’s Bridge, it was renamed for the port city of Odessa in Ukrain during the Crimean War as a marketing ploy.  Efforts to revitalize the shipping failed and the town’s economy stalled.   It was resurrected by preservationist H. Rodney Sharpe, who began with the purchase of the Corbit Mansion, expanding to its neighbors and the land around it.  The property now consists of six historic buildings and 72 acres.   She noted that they are a treasure trove of hidden finds and that research continues to locate out-buildings and other pieces of colonial life.   The site is also part of the National Park System’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, as a stop between slave-holding Maryland and Delaware, Pennsylvania and beyond; you can see a hiding space in the Corbit Mansion and hear of one escaped slave who hid there as he made his way North just ahead of the authorities tracking him.

Today visitors can see the properties as they appeared in the late 18th century and learn about daily life, shop for antiques, enjoy meals at the Cantwell’s Tavern – proceeds benefit the Foundation – or rent the properties for weddings or corporate affairs.

Ms Buckson spoke of their fundraising efforts, including the ongoing Independence and Perpetuity Endowment Campaign, looking to raise $3 million to maintain and expand their work.    She also described their events,  combing history with fun, including the 6th Annual Brewfest, September 7 on the grounds and Cantwell’s Tavern, featuring craft beers from 75 breweries, food, art and music, and their annual holiday festival, each year celebrating a classic children’s book.  This year will be The Secret Garden, and each of the properties will be decorated in the spirit of the tale.

For more information, about tours, exhibits, dining or rentals, visit HISTORICODESSA.ORG

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