Fire Destroys Seaford's Historic Cannon Hall - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Reported by Michael Lopardi

Fire Destroys Seaford's Historic Cannon Hall

Updated:
This photo of the historical house after it went up in flames was submitted by WBOC Facebook fan Scott Kirby. This photo of the historical house after it went up in flames was submitted by WBOC Facebook fan Scott Kirby.

SEAFORD, Del. - History took an unexpected turn on a historic Sussex County home this weekend as a fire damaged Cannon Hall.

Flames burned a gaping hole through the middle of the Seaford house late Sunday afternoon, ruining what some history buffs say could be one of the oldest standing homes in Sussex County.
 
"To think that something that had stood this long, built in the early 1800's, has to meet an end like this - it's just sad," said Donald Allen of Seaford. Allen lives near the historic building and has studied the history of the area as a hobby.
 
Cannon Hall was likely built around 1810 by a relative of Patty Cannon, whose famed house is a few miles up the road, said Allen. 
 
Jacob Cannon built the home as a place to settle down with his soon-to-be wife but she died before the marriage, according to paperwork from the National Register of Historic Places.
 
It's believed the house sat vacant for about five years after it was built. Cannon never spent a night in the house and was eventually murdered nearby in 1843, according to the register.
 
The most recent owner lived in the house for the last 17 years, her daughter said.
 
"It predates nearly everything you see standing around you," Allen said.
 
On Monday, neighbors stopped by to survey the damage. Much of the house, which sits across from the Woodland Ferry on the Nanticoke River, is completely charred. A ferry employee said he noticed smoke and told a co-worker to call for help.
 
"First we saw white smoke then I walked and it came out black smoke," said Terry Downing, a ferry operator. "All the fire was shooting right out."
 
Family members say the elderly woman who lived inside was behind the house tending to animals at the time of the fire. She wasn't injured, but her daughter said the fire was the latest tragedy in a string of bad luck for the owner, including the recent deaths of her husband and son.
 
The fire marshal is investigating the cause. Witnesses said fire crews spent hours at the scene extinguishing flames and cooling hot spots.
 
Allen said the tragedy reminds people about the value of historic homes. He said he would like someone to come forward and restore the building but doesn't know if that's possible.
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