historic register signOur historic research shows that the oldest section of the house was constructed in the 1830’s.  The home and the farmland was purchased at public auction on April 16, 1867 by William Hopkins, my great (x5) grandfather. In 1870, three years after the Hopkins family moved into the house, census records indicate that there were 12 people in the Hopkins household – a number suggesting a substantial house size. The farm has stayed in the Hopkins family since 1867 and has transferred to family members six times. – From William Hopkins in 1867, to Nancy Hopkins in 1895, to Woolsey C. Hopkins in 1902, then Alden Hopkins Sr. in 1935, to Alden Hopkins Jr. (“Uncle Junior”) and his wife Marilyn. My memories of the Covered Bridge Farm begin with Uncle Junior. He was a pioneer to the Ag Industry in DE, even serving as Secretary of Agriculture during Governor Peter Dupont’s administration.

My father, Walter C. Hopkins, is now the owner of Covered Bridge Farm and has the distinguished responsibility to maintain the character and purpose of the land. Thanks to the efforts of Uncle Junior and my dad, the land has been preserved forever as Delaware farmland.   Together, my father and I will carry on the tradition of agricultural excellence and share this beautiful property with all who want to enjoy and appreciate it.

In 1925, the Dairy Barn and milk house were built. In 1936, when a larger dairy barn was needed, the large block barn was added. It is distinguished by its bell shaped roof crated by its innovative flitch-arch construction technique, which was unique in Sussex County at the time, and termed an O’Neil Barn after the contractor and designer, Rodney O’Neil of Laurel. This technique employed no internal roof trusses beyond the rafter blades, a continuous semi-circle form with no angles.

There were only 10 such barns made in Sussex County due to the unique skilled craftsmanship of Rodney O’Neil. Only a few of those barns remain standing today. O’Neil was also the architect of the U.S. Coast Guard Lifesaving Station in Lewes. Local historians would also like to know that the blocks for the dairy barns were bought from Beebe’s concrete store in Lewes. In 1938 the silo was built of three foot tongue-and-groove, cement pressed staves. In 1960, the large livestock loafing shed was attached to the dairy barns by Uncle George Hopkins, who was in charge of the dairy herd during that era. The Hopkins’ barns represent the ingenuity of local craftsmen and the prosperity of the Hopkins family, leading the trend toward specialization after 1920 in Sussex County, from generalized farming to Dairy Farming.

 

The featured Covered Bridge was constructed in 1985 over an irrigation channel leading to the reflection pond. The unique Burr-Truss architecture was meticulously research and constructed by Uncle Junior alone. It was then that Uncle Junior and Aunt Marilyn first restored the farmhouse and created the Covered Bridge Farm Guesthouse. They conceived the idea of providing visitors to the resort beach area a nearby retreat, to enjoy the sounds of farming and see the crops growing.

The Covered Bridge Inn has stood the test of time and it will be here for all to enjoy for another 200 + years.