Rockwood Mansion and Park

Rockwood’s new Goth Ball to usher in spooky season

Betsy PriceCulture, Headlines

Rockwood Mansion and Park

Rockwood Park and Mansion will launch its season of spooky events with a new Goth Ball.

Rockwood Park and Museum will kick off its panoply of Halloween and paranormal events with its first Goth Ball, set for Sept. 29.

“We’ve been leaning into our Best of Delaware status for paranormal tours – adding October programs like the haunted trails, oddities tour and the Revisionists in 2022 and 2023,” said Rockwood director Ryan Grover. “But the Goth Ball will help bring more attention to the whole haunted calendar through the lens of an 1850 gothic revival mansion.”

The evening’s name, inspired by the Gothic Revival design of the house, also will double as an opener for the park’s Haunted Trails, which features spookily lit garden paths perfect for Instagramming,  and the Oddities Tour,  added to regular tours of the museum.

Gothic design reflects the Romantic Era, Grover noted. The modern cultural embrace of vampire, witch and ghost stories stems from the same cultural origins as revival art and the architecture of the mid-1800s, he said.

Ultimately, Grover said, it was an exploration of individualism through fantasy, poetry and nostalgia.

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The night also will be a fundraiser for the 170-year-old home and garden.

This year’s financial focus is a massive renovation of Rockwood’s garden design, an emergency repaving of its brick-lined courtyard, and an upgrading the design of its climate control systems.

Among the planned highlights (’cause can you really expect anything tagged “goth” to go totally to plan?) are an appearance by medium Kelly Kearney; music by the alt-’80s cover band Melt With You in the Carriage House; a preview performance from “The Revisionists: A Haunted Gothic Walk;” and an open bar, light fare and silent auction.

Sponsored by the Rockwood Park Preservation Society and Prime Hospitality, tickets are $100. Get them here. Goth apparel is recommended, but not required.

Rockwood Mansion and Park

Rockwood is bringing back its popular Haunted Trails, which allow guests to wander lighted garden paths.

The mansion, at 4651 Washington Street Extension in Wilmington, is the only one owned by New Castle County.

Built in the early 1850s by banker Joseph Shipley as a retirement home, Rockood was meant to evoke the feel of a English country estate, including private gardens, in a 74-acre urban forest two miles from the center of Wilmington.

The park includes the mansion and conservatory, porter’s lodge, gardener’s cottage and barn/carriage house.

The autumn events that the Goth Ball will celebrate include:

  • The Rockwood Paranomal Experience. Participants will investigate the mansion from the unfinished attic to the decayed basement after being instructed on how to use sophisticated paranormal equipment central to the investigation. Attendees must be able to climb many stairs. Pre-registration is required as space is limited. $35 for NCC residents; $40 for non-residents. Sept. 16, Sept. 23, Sept. 30, Oct. 16, Oct. 21.
  • Mayhem and Murder: Mysteries in the Museum. Participants must be at least 14, but younger than 100. $25. Oct. 6, Oct. 7, Oct. 13, Oct. 14,
  • Mayhem and Mystery: For Junior Sleuths. This family-oriented tour asks participants, who must be at least 3, but younger than 17, to find and follow clues. $10. Five shows on Nov. 4.
  • The Revisionists: A Haunted Gothic Walk. Last year’s Victorian Walk — which featured costumed actors in a seried of vignettes telling macabre stories — was a hit, and Greg Shelton is back with more. $30. They will be available for sale Friday, Sept. 1 on Oct. 13-14, 20-21 and 27-28.
  • The Haunted Trails of Rockwood. The trails are free and open every evening until the property closes.
  • The Rockwood Oddities Tour is added for the season to guided and self-guided tours of the mansion.



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