If not for the long-term vision of Ed and Lynn Lester, it’s hard to tell what the historic Brick Hotel in Georgetown would look like today. Chances are the structure so linked to the history of Sussex County’s infancy would no longer be resting on the town’s historic circle at all.
Twelve years ago, the plan was for the state of Delaware to purchase what for years had been a division of the Wilmington Trust Co., tear it down and construct a new Court of Chancery, a decision that would have marked the end of what many today refer to simply as “The Brick.”
But Georgetown residents cried foul and started a grass roots campaign to save the historic structure that, since the 1830s, has provided a vital link to the Sussex County seat of today, as well as that of yesteryear.
Among the preservationists who made their voices heard was Ed Lester, at that time the mayor of Georgetown. Because of the outcry, the state eventually relented and chose to build the new Court of Chancery instead on the opposite side of The Circle, where it still sits today.
The Lesters purchased the historic structure in 2004 and began discussing what to do with it; Ed wanted a professional-type center, while Lynn wanted to return the building back to its original glory.
Lynn Lester eventually won out, determined on turning the historic building once again into an inn and tavern, not only for the residents of Georgetown but for all of Sussex County.
The new and improved Brick Hotel opened on Nov. 5, 2008, the day before Georgetown’s biennial Return Day celebration. It was a proud and glorious day for the Lesters, for the town of Georgetown and for historic preservationists throughout Sussex County.
There was simply no more fitting time to re-open the inn, which realized some of its most glorious days ever during the very festival that defines Sussex County more than any other. Residents from throughout the county, particularly those from the Lewes area, would often stay at the Brick Hotel every two years while waiting for the much-anticipated election results to be read from the nearby county courthouse.
From the very beginning, the restoration of the Brick Hotel was Lynn Lester’s project. From the front desk, to the original guestrooms, to the hotel’s new additions, the hotel has Lynn Lester’s personal touch featured throughout.
She painstakingly searched for period antiques, she diligently oversaw restoration efforts, she even worked to incorporate many pineapples, a personal favorite, into the hotel’s motif.
Throughout the hotel, there is a personal touch that is undeniably Lynn Lester.
Every room in the Brick Hotel is named for a special person or portrays a certain theme. From “The Mayor’s Manor” to “The Baker” to “The Gardens Way,” every nook and cranny of the hotel is special is its own unique way.
The biggest room at the inn is “Calvert’s Sanctuary,” named for Calvert Richardson, former president of Wilmington Trust. The room is Richardson’s former office on the hotel’s second floor.
Then there is floor number three, aptly named Tinker Hall. The restoration of this floor, from start to finish, is the most impressive in the entire structure.
When the Lesters began restoring the third floor, wallpaper was peeling off, floorboards were coming up, even the plaster was coming off of the walls. Its restoration was the first time the floor had been touched since the 1800s.
It was quite the project, but today even the third floor of the Brick Hotel stands as a testament to Georgetown’s pioneers. Yes, even Tinker Hall is like stepping into a history book.
So named for the tinkers who used to peddle their wares in Georgetown in the 1800s, the rooms in today’s Tinker Hall have been updated with all modern amenities. But a certain effort was also made to preserve the history of the floor, complete with original dormers and corridors.
The new and improved Brick Hotel offers 14 guest rooms, as well as an onsite restaurant and facilities for meetings and conferences. It also serves as a perfect gathering place for many in the Sussex County seat, a quiet place to meet for lunch or to simply have a glass of wine or two with that special someone.
For more information about the Brick Hotel, call 302-855-5800 or visit www.thebrickhotel.com.