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The Cleaver House
Port Penn, Delaware

History

Joseph Cleaver’s Linden Hall, built in 1814, is located in Port Penn on the corner of North Congress and Market Streets.  The Cleaver House, which resembles two Federal-style townhouses, complete with Flemish bond, was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 13, 1985.

The Cleaver family lived in the northern part of the house, complete with large entrance hall, elegant staircase, and dual marble fireplaces. Cleaver’s office, dry goods store, and warehouse originally served the southern portion. Joseph Cleaver served as the original postmaster of Port Penn, followed by his son Thomas Cleaver, and finally Samuel Cleaver. Their home is also the village’s first post office.

The Cleavers were very prominent and successful businessmen whose name appeared frequently in the accounting books for the construction of Fort Delaware on Pea Patch Island.  Joseph Cleaver built Linden Hall in Port Penn, ambitiously hoping to dominate the trade between the Delaware River and the farmlands of southern New Castle County. This was not to be. Following construction of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal (c. 1829) a few miles to the north, major shipping began to bypass Port Penn. The town still managed to provide local agricultural producers with a convenient method to export their goods.  The port began to lose its competitive advantage with the advent of the railroad.  Today Port Penn is known as a fishing village.