A local law firm may purchase and renovate what is considered to be the city of Delaware’s oldest residence at its original site. The purchase of Mrs. Murray’s School, 15 N. Franklin St., is contingent upon the Delaware Historic Preservation Commission’s approval of the project.
AlerStallings LLC, now located at 593 Sunbury Road, specializes in elder law and estate planning. The firm wants to renovate the exterior of the the front and rear of the building and make it handicapped accessible, which would include building a new sidewalk to connect with a new ramp, according to a city staff report.
“This application is also unique in that the building is included in the Residential Subdistrict of the Historic District Overlay while being zoned B-3 (Community Business District),” the report reads. “… The occupancy of the building by a law firm is an appropriate use of the site while maintaining the quiet enjoyment of the nearby residential neighborhoods.”
Sophia Moore built the house in 1821 as a combined school and orphanage. Rutherford B. Hayes, the 19th president of the United States, attended the school in the late 1820s.
It was known as Mrs. Murray’s School after Joan Hills Murray began teaching at the school with her husband in 1826. The building was a residence from 1950s through the 1980s.
The 3,200-square-foot building is a contributing structure on the National Register of Historic Places. The property was used as a law office from 1989 to 2007 until St. Peter’s Episcopal Church of Delaware purchased it. The church uses the site for offices and rental space.
The commission will meet at City Hall, 1 S. Sandusky St., 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.