The Allee House at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge stands today, as it did in the eighteenth century, overlooking the fields and marshes of Kent County. It is one of the most handsome and best preserved examples of an early brick farmhouse in Delaware.
According to tradition, the Allee House was built about 1753 by Abraham Allee, the son of John Allee, a Huguenot refugee from Artois, France. John Allee arrived in Hackensack, New Jersey, in the 1680's and in 1706 he obtained from John Albertson and John Manford of New York a 600 acre tract in Delaware called "Woodstock Bower". By 1712 John Allee had bought two tracts adjacent to his original purchase; in his will, probated March 16, 1718, he left a large estate to his children. His son Abraham received the eastern half of the "home plantation" at Bombay Hook.
Abraham Allee served as a member of the Assembly in 1726, was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1738, and was Chief Ranger for the county in 1749. He purchased tracts called "Hillyard's Adventure", "Barren Hope", and "Galway" and added them to his inherited estate.
The house Abraham Allee built at Bombay Hook features fine brickwork laid in Flemish bond with a few glazed header bricks. The interior of the house is distinguished by the handsome wood paneling of the parlor. The cornice in this room has a dentil course that is particularly well formed, and the splendid panels of the chimney breast are joined on either side by two striking recessed, arched china closets. These closets have paneled doors and graduated butterfly shelves against a barrel back with a fluted center post.
The kitchen of the Allee House was added some time after the original four rooms were built. The large brick fireplace has its original lugpole and trammel. The brick hearth laid in sand is typical of most Delaware houses in Kent and Sussex counties.
During the restoration of the Allee House it was discovered that much of the early wrought iron hardware was still in place. The colors used in the house were found by carefully removing successive layers of paint in each room until the original was uncovered. Excavations in the cellar, under the kitchen floor, and around the outside walls of the house unearthed a number of metal, glass, and pottery artifacts that suggested the Chinese porcelain, pearlware and pewter that are now displayed in the dining room and parlor.
The first restoration and the furnishing of the Allee House were completed in 1966, in 1971 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as an important example of the vernacular architecture of eighteenth century Delaware. The Allee House is again in need of restoring. Over the past 40 years, the house's walls and support beams have become damaged and weakened by water. The house is not open to the public at this time. The house is a part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is located on Route 9 between Leipsic and Smyrna.
The Allee House is closed until further notice for repairs. For more information: http://friendsofbombayhook.org/alleehouse.html
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Bombay Hook is an important stop on the Delaware Bay for thousands of migrating shorebirds every spring, as they make their critical trip north to their breeding grounds. At low tide they can be seen feeding by the thousands on the salt marsh mudflats along the wildlife drive. The black-necked stilts nest in the grassy areas of Bear Swamp impoundment.