Now a picturesque venue for weddings and other events, The Farmhouse holds a long and unique place in Delaware’s history.
The original Farmhouse was thought to have been built between 1830 to 1840 by the first known owner of the surrounding land, William W. Rice, a member of a prominent family in the area during the 18th century. The next occupants of the house remain unclear until 1868, when the land and The Farmhouse were owned by John Brown (c1846-1906). Also during this time his brother, James Brown Jr., owned an adjacent farm on the site of where Delaware Park is located today. John Brown married Catherine "Kate" Thatcher (c1847-1934) in 1869, and shortly after began raising a family of five children in The Farmhouse. Around 1880, John sold the farm to his brother James, who may have resided in The Farmhouse until 1910.
In 1917, Levi Wesley Murray and his bride Kate Whann Moody Murray bought 147 acres of the land known as the Brown Farm, and moved into The Farmhouse in the spring of 1918, after the previous owner’s crops had been harvested. The two initially resided in The Farmhouse with their three children John, Eleanor and Margaret; the two youngest children, Helen and Ralph, were born in The Farmhouse in 1920 and 1925.
In 1948, Ralph Murray married Bernice ‘Betty’ Long and the couple lived in The Farmhouse with Ralph’s parents and oldest sister Eleanor. After Levi passed away in 1950, Kate and Eleanor built an adjacent home on the farm and left The Farmhouse for Ralph and Betty’s growing family. Together, Ralph and Betty raised their five children – Lynn, Joyce, Lee, Kathy and Gale – in The Farmhouse and continued to farm the land.
In 1948, traveling horse trainers and jockeys from the nearby Delaware Park race track began asking to rent small lots on the Murray’s farm while they worked at the track. In1949, a section of the farm was set aside as the site of twelve mobile homes, the first of which were occupied by tenants Ray Scott and Jimmy Mills, both travelers with the nearby race track. A separate building, which still exists today, served as the tenants’ rest rooms, showers and laundry site. The rest of the land continued to be farmed until at least the late 1960s, but was eventually fully developed into what is today known as Murray Manor.
As Murray Manor grew in size, an addition was put onto The Farmhouse so that the park’s civic association had a place to hold meetings and other gatherings. The Murray family started receiving requests to hold small parties in the new space and in 1990 decided to transform The Farmhouse into a premiere wedding hall. Further additions to the building were made to accommodate larger functions and in 1993, The Farmhouse’s catering and event business was officially started by Ralph and Betty’s two youngest daughters and a family friend.
After 23 successful years in business, today The Farmhouse is being passed along to the fourth generation of the Murray family to be run by Ralph and Betty’s granddaughters. Despite all of its additions and renovations, The Farmhouse still maintains the original section that was lived in by the Browns and early generations of the Murray family. Its cozy den and large inside bar once functioned as the Murray family’s kitchen, while the upstairs that now houses the bridal suite previously served as the master bedroom.
These reminders of the Farmhouse’s heritage have remained intact throughout its passing between families and generations, allowing everyone to experience a piece of its history.
Photo of the barn that was previously on The Farmhouse grounds.
Photo of The Farmhouse when it was served as the Murray family residence.