February 10, 2021
By Liz Androskaut, Interpretive Programs Manager at Wilmington State Parks
As you sit along the banks of the Brandywine River in Brandywine Park, you may not realize that the surrounding land has provided an urban retreat for the citizens of Wilmington since 1833. Although the land’s purpose hasn’t changed, the people who manage it have. In 1998, the State of Delaware’s Division of Parks and Recreation assumed management of several city parks: Brandywine Park, H. Fletcher Brown, Rockford Park, and the Kentmere Parkway. These park sites collectively became Wilmington State Parks.
The park office and maintenance facilities were originally located next to Baynard Stadium, part of Brandywine Park. The Baynard Athletic Grounds were created in 1913 with 3 baseball diamonds and a football field. After WWI, a cinder track and grandstand were added and, in 1922, the grounds were officially opened.
In the late 2000s, after many years of upkeep by the dedicated staff of Wilmington State Parks, the City of Wilmington entered into an agreement with Salesianum School in which the school would rebuild the Baynard Stadium and lease it for 50 years. Part of that agreement included creating a new park office and maintenance facilities for the Wilmington State Parks’ operations.
Construction began on April 2019 and the newly renamed Abessinio Stadium’s grand opening was November 13, 2020. The new park office, located on the lower level of the Stadium’s grandstand, now houses the park’s administrative and programming staff along with Park enforcement officers. A separate building houses the park’s maintenance facilities and workspaces. Hints of the past can still be seen at the new stadium. As visitors enter the office they will see that the original dedication stone to Samuel Baynard has been incorporated into the sidewalk. Stone from the old ranger’s station (which was originally a comfort station) was also incorporated into the entry gates.
When you visit the park, we invite you to take a lap around the track and stop to see the new park office. The newly opened Abessinio Stadium and park office is just one way the landscape continues to be an urban retreat for the citizens of Wilmington.