In the shadow of the Civil War, in a city with a populace of 30,000, where cow paths reached as far into town as Delaware Avenue, hope laid waiting. The Board of Trustees was elected on January 27, 1865, and the ladies that had been invited to attend selected the name: Grace Church was born. A plot of land on the northwest corner of Ninth and West Streets was purchased, and ground was broken for the Church and Chapel on April 27, 1865.

Grace Church steeple being lifted into place.Two buildings were planned for the site. A two-story chapel and classroom building would be built first. The first service was held in the Chapel less than a year after groundbreaking, March 25, 1866. Services would be held here until the Church building was completed. The cornerstone was placed by Bishop Simpson on October 7 of 1865, with the dedication of the completed building held on Thursday morning, January 23, 1868.

Original Construction

Both buildings were designed by architect Thomas Dixon (1819-1886), a Wilmington native whose designs were known in Wilmington and Baltimore. Principally working in Baltimore, he designed the Second Presbyterian Church, the County Court House, and the jail. He would later design Wilmington's Grand Opera House (1871). The designs or Grace Church employed both English Decorative Gothic and High Victorian Gothic styles of architecture. The walls were built using green serpentine stone from quarries near Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, with base courses of brown stone, and dressings of New Brunswick drab stone from New Brunswick, New Jersey.

The main tower with belfry and spire reaches a height of 186 feet, while the spire on the northeast corner reaches 120 feet. On the day of its installation, children were released from school so they could watch the main tower being hoisted into place. Guy wires were stretched as far as 8th Street and Delaware Avenue, as horses strained to pull the spire to its position.

 Our Pavilion Lobby facing Washington Street.  The parsonage was built in 1870 of the same green serpentine stone that was used in the construction of the church. Known as Bassett Hall, it was converted to an office site for church mission in the 1970’s. In 1998, it was razed to provide space for a community playground.

Our property also includes other additions and expansions, such as the Church House, a former residence, obtained in 1915 (expanded 1919-1927), and our Pavilion Lobby, introduced in 2001.