Deborah Buckson, Executive Director of Historic Odessa Foundation, discussed the 18th century community. The town, originally known in colonial times as Cantwell’s Bridge, it was a busy grain shipping port, renamed to take advantage of the more famous city’s reputation for shipping. As the railroad came and the local crops of grain and apples failed, the town lost its economic base and retreated into a residential area. ‘Rediscovered’ in the early ’60s, the homes and central town were reclaimed and given National landmark status. The foundation consists of five buildings, nearly 30 acres of surrounding landscape, outbuildings and gardens. The homes are furnished to the period, many with their original contents, original family furniture made by prominent Delaware cabinetmakers of the 18th century; the collections include major works of regional paintings, prints, textiles, silver, pewter, and other metals. You can now tour the homes and visit the Cantwell Tavern, still in operation and serving food and beverage. Deb discussed the local pride and participation by the community in maintaining the historic look to the neighboring homes, the landmark designation keeps the area historically accurate.
She noted that while George Washington did NOT sleep there and the town was untouched by the Revolution, it was a stop for at least one escaping slave, hidden in a crawlspace within the Corbet-Sharp House.
Today the facilities are teaching sites for ‘living history’ and special exhibits of regional artisan and historic collections. It is available for rental for private events such as weddings. Each year the Foundation decorates for the holidays and offers special events, including teas and evening candlelight tours. She discussed their annual decor is based on childhood literature with trees featuring classic stories, this year the Corbet-Sharp house celebrating the 175 anniversary of the publishing of Dickens A Christmas Carol, with each room depicting a different scene. She also covered other fundraisers, including their annual Beer Fest.