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Ray Street

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You are now walking west along Ray Street, which ends at Dump Hill. This name comes from the fact that the hill was, at one time, a dump. The city leveled some of the dump and built an unpaved street, which originally did not connect with New London Road. Ray Street evolved into a thriving residential area, which housed a significant portion of the community’s population. Today, though, the University of Delaware has appropriated much of the street for its undergraduate housing. Although many of the original buildings have not survived, many community memories have. 

Violet Pettijohn, who lived in the Hollow, just north of Ray Street, remembers

“That’s where I lived, and right next to it they had a lane that went all the way down to the bottom of the hill. The only thing that’s still standing is a walnut tree, ‘cause the University got it too…Down in The Hollow was nice though. It had a nice big hill and we used to sled down there, all that stuff…They had a spring down there, and white people used to go down and get water out of the spring ‘cause it was cold, and we had pump water, and lots of times they came over and had some of that pump water.. We had a nice place, and a great big corner lot that went—it could have been a couple houses on that lot, and we used to have a garden, and he always had vegetables and stuff, and sometimes we’d give it away, and my grandmother always put up stuff.”​

Violet Pettijohn also talks about a spring nicknamed Boogie Run, whose name dates back on maps to the 1700s. Legend has it that on Halloween, the cries of a murdered baby can be heard in Boogie Run. Besides Halloween lore, community members recall sledding along Ray Street as well, a favorite winter pastime. Marva Smith and Denise Hayman recall 

"We used to also sled down New London and the older kids would build a fire down there by Boogie Run out of a tire and when we would come down the hill we would stop there and get warm and start all over again... that was the best fun you've ever had." ​

Further, Ray Street was the spot where you could find Mr. Cleveland Davis’ store and a beauty shop.  It was also a spot for community block parties and gatherings at a local juke joint. 

 Ray Street was home to some very accomplished persons. Kenneth Hall, whose house still stands on Ray Street, was a gifted athlete. Kenneth Hall was named as one of the best collegiate kickers and profiled by Sports Illustrated. Hall even tried out for the Chicago Bears. In addition to his athletic accomplishments, Kenneth Hall was also one of the first black students to attend Newark High School, thereby contributing to the desegregation of the Newark school system. He also went on to attend college in Idaho. Kenneth’s mother died young, and so Kenneth was primarily raised by the Wilson family, who took him in to ease the burdens on a single father.

 The New London Road Community has produced a number of accomplished persons of whom the community is very proud.  Richard Wilson, son of George Wilson, was the first African American administrator at the University of Delaware and founder of the highly successful Upward Bound Program, which seeks to provide academic opportunities to underprepared students. This community was once also home to Clyde Bishop, American diplomat and former Ambassador to the Marshall Islands. Finally, Alice Wilson Adams, the first black nurse in Newark, lived here as well.   

 Once you reach the end of Ray Street, turn right onto New London Road and continue north until you are standing across the street from the George Wilson Community Center, at 303 New London Road. ​

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  • The Department of Art Conservation
  • 303 Old College
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-3489