Elsmere is located in northern Delaware adjacent to the western boundary of the City of Wilmington. The remainder of the town shares its boundaries with land governed by New Castle County. Elsmere is bisected by one of the busiest commuter roads in Delaware—Kirkwood Highway—and also has a major rail line crossing the eastern side of the town.
The origins of the Town of Elsmere date back to the latter half of the 1880s, when the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad extended its lines from Philadelphia to an area known as Elsmere Junction. Prior to the late 1800s, the Elsmere area was a small, rural community largely made up of farmlands and scattered residences.
Between 1881 and 1893, Elsmere evolved from a rural, farm district into a suburb of Wilmington. Significant land development occurred in part through the efforts of real estate promoter Joshua T. Heald, who saw an opportunity to transform this rural, farm district close to Elsmere Junction into a suburb of Wilmington. Heald promoted cleaner and cheaper living outside of the city of Wilmington with newspaper advertisements enticing buyers with promises of escape from the city, cheaper living, and exemption from city taxes. Heald hoped to attract working-class people to the small building lots that he sold for about $200 each. Buyers were allowed to choose whether to erect their own homes or employ a contractor. Initially, 15 homes were built, establishing a development that that would be identified as Elsmere. This new suburb was within walking distance of the new railway yards and factories and was only a five-cent fare away from downtown Wilmington.
In 1909 the approximately 70 families residing in Elsmere gave their consent to Joseph A. Ranck, Thomas Kane, Penrose S. Foreman, and Albert Wild to incorporate the area into the Town of Elsmere. Between 1910 and 1920, the population doubled from 374 to 620 residents, and Elsmere continued to draw residents from Wilmington.
During the late teens, the Delaware State Fair Association purchased land and built a new fairgrounds within Elsmere’s town limit. The grounds, including a racecourse for horses, cars and motorcycles, were located south of New Road and Wilmington Avenue and west of the previously established streets. It was hoped that this new location would prove more profitable than the fair’s old location in Wilmington. The modern facility, site of the Delaware State Fair from 1917 to 1928.
During the ensuing years, streets had been laid to the north and west of the fairgrounds, allowing development in those areas. Most of the development occurred close to the major arteries of Wilmington Avenue, New Road, and the western extension of New Road now known as Kirkwood Highway.
The outlying areas of the town were built up by developers beginning at the end of World War II and continuing into the early 1960’s. Joe and Frank Tigani built Elsmere Park south of New Road. Streets included Linden, Locust, Tamarack, and Dover. From 1955 through 1963, Bordman and Smith built brick homes on Sycamore, Bungalow, Cypress, and Maple Avenues. This area became known as Elsmere Gardens. in 1954-55 on the Wilmington side of the B&O tracks and adjacent to the Haddock Construction Industrial Site, Pullela and Baldini built a section of homes now called Rosemont.
The Town of Elsmere proudly celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 2009
Source: Town of Elsmere website