Causey Mansion’s Stately History

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Photo Taken By Dave Kenton
Photo Taken By Dave Kenton

By Terry Rogers

The most easily recognized landmark in the city of Milford is the stately Causey Mansion. The home, built on a triangle of land where Causey Avenue (formerly known as Depot Street), South Walnut Street and Southeast Second Street meet, is now a bed and breakfast inn.

Built in 1763 for Levin Crapper, a landowner, magistrate and vestryman in the area, the bright yellow exterior and brilliant white columns take visitors back to antebellum Delaware and the feel of life on a plantation, as during Crapper’s lifetime the mansion was a working farm. Designed by an English architect named Mitchell, the original plantation included more than 1500 acres. The mansion had two and a half stories, and what is now the front of the building was the back when it was firs built.

In 1849, Governor Peter Causey enlarged the home by adding a third floor and changing the style from Georgina to Greek Revival with French accents, which include detailed grillwork in the small third floor windows and window caps. After adding the third floor, Governor Causey also replaced the original pitched roof with a low, flat roof with a widow’s walk, adding four large windows in the Main Wing and several square pillars added to the southwest wing.

Causey Mansion has the distinction of housing two of Delaware’s Governors. Governor Daniel Rogers lived in the home from 1797 to 1799. Governor Rogers married Esther Crapper, a descendant of Levin Crapper, with whom he had five children. After Esther’s death, Governor Rogers married Nancy Russum and had seven more children. Governor Rogers owned several milling operations in the area, including Haven Mills, a brick granary near Argo’s Corner and a tavern at Cedar Creek Village. Elected to the State House of Representatives and twice as Speaker, he served until his appointment to fill the unexpired term of Gunning Bedford who died in office. He served as Governor until 1799, returning to the State Senate in 1802. Governor Rogers died during his second term of office. Originally buried on the Causey Mansion grounds, the city moved his remains to the Odd Fellows Cemetery on the north side of town in 1917.

One of the outbuildings on the property is a well-preserved slave quarters where the house servants resided. At the base of a ladder stairway is a large, scooped out dent in the wall that, according to legend, was created to allow one of the servants, who was a fairly large woman, to get up to her room.

Governor Causey made his fortune in tanneries, mills, farms and ships he owned. Governor Causey used the ships, all built in Milford, to deliver grains and other products to Philadelphia. Once the ships delivered the grains, they returned with dry goods for the Milford region. Married to Maria Williams, with whom he had six children, Governor Causey initially lived on North Walnut Street in Milford until purchasing the Cropper home in 1850. Known as a progressive Jacksonian Democrat, Governor Causey served in the State House after his election in 1831 until 1833 and was elected governor in 1854, defeating William Burton. Governor Causey died in Milford in 1871 and is buried at Old Methodist Graveyard on North Street.

The Joseph Holland family called the mansion home in the early 20th century until Captain Wilson M. Vineyard purchased the property in the 1930’s. Captain Vineyard owned and operated the Vineyard Shipyard in Milford.

The Causey Mansion is a testament to the desire of many Milford resident’s to not only preserve the history of the town but to share that history with others. The well maintained formal boxwood gardens and immaculate grounds on the three-acre historic site, five guest rooms, a parlor, formal dining room and breakfast room provide visitors with a step back into the past. The mansion is also available for special occasions, such as weddings and reunions.