The Wilmington Colony

The Wilmington Colony

Wilmington, Delaware 19803, United States

Created By: Matthew

Tour Information

The earliest Italians began arriving in Wilmington around 1869; these early arrivals found no groups of fellow countrymen to assist with finding work or a home. One of the first neighborhoods to have an identifiable Italian American population is sometimes referred to as “The Hill” or the “Wilmington Colony” but is more commonly known today as Wilmington’s “Little Italy”. Located in the southwest section of the city, “Little Italy” is bounded by Lancaster Avenue, Eleventh Street, Union Street, and Broom Street. Much of the land that is today occupied by “Little Italy” was empty when the Italians arrived. With little industry in place prior to their arrival, it appears that the impetus for settling the Wilmington Colony was the B&O Railroad which ran across both the western edge of the city and the neighborhood. By 1900 the number of Italian-born immigrants in Delaware totaled 1,122; ten years later, that number had doubled. The size of the Italian-born community in Wilmington was similar in size to those in states such as Maine, Oregon, and Utah, and was far smaller than the communities in New York City and nearby Philadelphia.

Wilmington’s Little Italy exhibits elements found in many Italian American communities that represent social values and cultural norms derived from the historical experiences of most Italians relocating to the United States. Among these elements are small-scale neighborhoods that facilitate intrafamily and interpersonal relations, assert a preference for high human density, mix commercial and industrial activities with residences, and provide a wide range of places for groups to gather. The streets in the Wilmington Colony are densely populated grids with low buildings of two or three stories abutting the sidewalk. Many buildings have ground floor commercial space with the upper story reserved for residential use.

The properties highlighted on this walking tour help to identify a small sampling of sites that were, and are, important to the history, culture, and social fabric of Wilmington’s Little Italy.

Tour Map

Loading Tour


What You'll See on the Tour

Constructed 1926 Constructed to serve the Italian American community on the west side of Wilmington, St. Anthony’s is both a visual focal point and a cultural touchstone for the neighborhood. The church is known city-wide for its annual I... Read more
Named to honor Father Francis J. Tucker, the founder of Saint Anthony of Padua Church. Father Tucker was the first American to be ordained an Oblate Priest and once held the position of chaplain to Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monac... Read more
Constrcuted circa 1910 While the men of the “Little Italy” had their social clubs such as the Italian Republican League and Sons of Columbus, the women had the Italian Neighborhood House. It is here that the women of the neighborhood co... Read more
Constructed circa 1900 Original home of the Columbus Savings and Loan Association which was chartered in 1925 offering loans and financial assistance to members of the local Italian community. An advertisement in the January 9, 1926, editio... Read more
Constructed circa 1899               This building was the first home of the Italian Republican League which later purchased and moved to 1909 W. Sixth St. Even though this building has undergone changes over the years, it sti... Read more
Constructed circa 1911 Second home to the Italian Republican League from 1911-1928. From here the Italian Republican League served the community by providing entertainment and socialization opportunities such as balls and charitable fundrai... Read more
Constrcucted circa 1900 This building is a good representation of the local community’s preference for mixed commercial and residential spaces. Ground floor commercial space with residential space above found throughout the neighborhood. ... Read more
In 1912 the Italian Republican Leage constructed a clubhouse on this site, just down the street from thier headquarters at number 1909. The Italian Republican League used thier clubhouse to host important club events, galas, and social gat... Read more
Constructed in 1910 This was the home of Ernesto Di Sabatino, a prominent member of the local community. Mr. Di Sabatino was responsible for the construction of many of the buildings in the “Little Italy” neighborhood including this one... Read more
Constructed circa 1912               Following the local and cultural preference of the neighborhood of mixed commercial and residential spaces, this building housed a grocery store run by Antonio Ventresca on the ground floor ... Read more
Constrcuted circa 1909 One of the first Italian American social clubs in Wilmington’s “Little Italy”; the Italian Democrat League was one of many to satisfy the local need for a culturally important social institution. The Italian Dem... Read more
Today the site of a parking garage for employees of Saint Francis Hospital, this location was at one time the location of a Presbyterian Mission predating the construction of Saint Anthony of Padua Parish. The Presbyterian Church identified... Read more


Leave a Comment



Download the App

Download the PocketSights Tour Guide mobile app to take this self-guided tour on your GPS-enabled mobile device.

iOS Tour Guide Android Tour Guide



Updates and Corrections

Please send change requests to