Fisher’s Paradise: A Patriotic Preservation

Yard Designs, Inc. Restored Rightful Glory An Iconic
Lewes Property with A Nod to History and Craftmanship

Written by Kristen Hampshire | Photography by Ray Sander

Fisher’s Paradise is the oldest waterfront home in Lewes, Delaware— a property that housed major figures in the Revolutionary War, not to mention the early U.S. presidents who passed through it. The first doctor in the region lived in this 1737 palatial colonial, which was known for its sweeping gardens and majestic trees, including a relic from the past: a200-year-old American Poplar.

The home is named Fisher’s Paradise for its original owner and the region’s first physician, Dr. Henry Fisher. The current owners of Fisher’s Paradise are equally steeped in its history, and for the past several years have been restoring the home inside and out. That includes a sweeping renovation and preservation of the landscaping, designed and constructed by Bryan LeCompte and Yard Designs, Inc.

“The spirit of the house is the craftsmanship and value put into it over the years by the workers and gardeners during 300 years of time,” says the homeowner, relating that he intentionally selected a team of professionals who appreciate this approach.

“With Bryan’s vision, we preserved the historic nature of the landscaping with the same brick and stone detail while integrating some modern features — and he maintained a state-of-the-art perspective on how to strike that balance,” the homeowner said. LeCompte added, “This was a true opportunity to be part of the home’s history and a key instrument in bringing it back to life.” 

Structural Integrity​​

Inspired by the stone used in ship ballasts during colonial times, a stately wall that wraps around Fisher’s Paradise offers aesthetic texture and visual strength, LeCompte says. “It delineates the property’s edge from the busy street, and a break in the wall with a custom, iconic pedestrian gate creates privacy yet appears inviting,” he says.

The idea was to create timeless appeal —“Structural integrity that will take the historic property far into the future,” LeCompte said.

The stones are nearly as old as the property, harvested from Tennessee and New York. An interior mortar treatment as opposed to the typical surface mortar conceals the binder. The wall looks as if it is stacked stone. “The gate is very important to me,” the owner shared. His family are steelworkers from Germany, immigrating to Baltimore about 150 years ago. His grandfather built steel ships, and his brothers are an ironsmith and coppersmith, operating the family business, Federal Hill Ironworks.

The wrought-iron gate was hand constructed by his family with a sun emblem to represent brightness and light. A copper-cupola atop the outdoor fireplace was hand-constructed and weighs nearly 500 pounds.

Formal yet Coastal

Strategically positioned hydrangea gardens showcase a range of colors — purples, reds, blues, whites. “Hydrangeas were common throughout the history of this house,” the owner points out.

So were English boxwoods. The original ones Dr. Fisher planted he brought from his home country of Ireland. “Bryan took that concept and replicated the theme,” the owner said.

LeCompte shared how plant selections blend traditional formality (boxwoods) with coastal casual native grasses. “It’s a nod to the beach environment,” he said, adding that hydrangea means water vessel in Greek.

The owner maintains the gardens himself, staying true to the home’s legacy. Yard Designs manages the major maintenance like mulching, tree and shrub care and extensive cleanups. “The neighbors of Dr. Henry Fisher named the gardens Fisher’s Paradise because he would spend his weekends managing his own garden,” he said.

Hand and Hearth

A stately outdoor fireplace constructed from brick original to the property is a centerpiece for family gatherings and brings a cozy warmth to the landscape. While it was newly created, bricks were the crumbling back wall of the previous kitchen. “It’s mortar that deteriorates over time, not bricks, so we saved those,” the owner said.

LeCompte added, “It was created to be reminiscent of a former summer kitchen fireplace end wall that might have stood on the property.”

Its mantel is resilient Brazilian hardwood — again, a nod to longevity and craftsmanship. The owner points out, “It does not fade with time, and it will last another few hundred years.”

Relaxing on the porch with coffee in the mornings and retiring to the side portico, listening to nature, are just some of the ways that Fisher’s Paradise owners enjoy the property and the fruits of much labor that went into its preservation and renewal. “We’re so proud of this property — it’s in the first town in the first state, and the renovations are true to the historic nature of the home.” CS

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