Amstel House (New Castle, Delaware)

Amstel House
Photo by Dan

Amstel House, also known as the Dr. Finney House, is a preserved building/historic home in New Castle, Delaware. Built in 173o by Dr. John Finney, one of the town’s wealthiest landowners, Amstel House is one of New Castles few surviving early colonial buildings.

The historic buildings in New Castle, including Amstel House were partially saved by a bad economy. In the 19th century, the region was in financial decline which meant that many of the residents couldn’t afford to update and modernize their old homes. The house retains almost all of its original woodwork and architectural details, including its open hearth. The fanlight (a semicircular window in the shape of a fan) and central hallway are among the earliest examples of these particular features in the United States.

Cropped photo of the fanlight at the front entrance to Amstel House by chrisstorb.

In 1931, a group of concerned citizens dedicated to protecting New Castle’s heritage raised funds to buy the Amstel House. It was the town’s first formal preservation effort and the group of locals quickly turned into the New Castle Historical Society. Since their first purchase and restoration, the New Castle Historical Society has worked with the city and civic organizations to preserve and restore many of the town’s historic architecture.

The early Georgian mansion, with its elegant brick construction has a history linked to many of town’s most prominent colonial families. A governor of Delaware lived in Amstel House, and Delaware Signers of the Declaration of Independence were known to stop in to meet with friends. George Washington even once attended a wedding in the parlor, and the home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.

Amstel House is reportedly haunted by an unknown spirit that also haunts Dr. Finney’s son’s home located just down the street. The spirit was not connected to the family in any known way but was able to get a two-for-one deal on real estate since the two homes were once connected by a secret tunnel. The haunting is so well documented that the house is the first stop on many of New Castle’s Hauntings In History Tours.

Amstel House Facts

  • Amstel House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
  • The once private home is 46 years older than the United States.
  • Guided tours of Amstel House are available Apr. 1 – Dec. 31.
  • The address is: 2 East Fourth St., New Castle, DE 19720.
  • The children’s book, the Green Umbrella, was based on a very real green umbrella that has long been one of the houses most famous features.