GEORGETOWN — The Brick Hotel on The Circle, an icon in the heart of Georgetown, will have a different purpose this fall.
Effective Oct. 1, the property on The Circle that presently houses the inn portion of The Brick, as well as The Counting House Restaurant & Pub, will serve as the location for the Delaware Department of Justice’s Sussex County office.
After 13 years operating the building as an inn and restaurant, Brick Hotel owners Ed and Lynn Lester are ending their era in the hospitality industry.
“For the past 13 years, The Brick has been my heart and soul, and I’ve loved my life as an innkeeper, restauranteur, wedding officiant, event coordinator and more,” said Ms. Lester. “The COVID pandemic and restrictions imposed, even with the relief grants, have been devastating to our business and the entire hospitality industry, and it is going to take a long, long time to recover. The state of Delaware approached us about leasing the property, and … well, timing is everything.”
Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings, whom Ms. Lester notes is no stranger to The Brick, is looking forward to her department’s move into the building.
“The Brick Hotel is an iconic Sussex County landmark and among Delaware’s most beautiful historic properties,” she said. “Because of that history and the meticulous work its owners have put into restoring the building, it was also at the top of our wish list as the Department of Justice searched for a new Sussex County office. We’re excited to move in and so grateful to Ed and Lynn Lester for their stewardship of one of our state’s crown jewels.”
The Lesters will continue to own the building. The state will have a seven-year lease, Ms. Lester said.
Specifics of the cost and scope of work needed in the transition to office use were not immediately available, according to DOJ spokesman Mat Marshall. The department’s current Sussex County office is at 114 E. Market St. in Georgetown.
In 2008, the Lesters brought new life to The Brick with a major restoration, the result of which is a top-quality lodging and dining venue that has become the centerpiece of the town.
Chef Bill Clifton continued the restaurant tradition with The Counting House, opening the eatery in August 2018.
Ms. Lester said it has been a bittersweet decision, but Mr. Clifton said he supports the couple’s desires.
“I want to thank Ed and Lynn Lester for the opportunity to serve the county seat, Sussex County and the people that have traveled from all over to stay with us,” said Mr. Clifton. “It was always a wish of mine to have my own restaurant, and throughout it all, the Lesters and the Georgetown community have supported us through thick and thin. I can’t wait for the next chapter in my life and to always see this building standing, knowing that I lived a dream in it.”
Looking back over the past 13 years, Mr. Lester said they are moving forward with absolutely no regrets.
“The Brick has been Lynn’s baby, and what she’s done with this building and business has made me and our family very proud. There’s no question that the relationships we’ve developed over the years with our guests will surely be missed,” said Mr. Lester, adding with a chuckle that they’ll also miss having the best seats in town for Return Day and other Georgetown events.
The Lesters and Mr. Clifton look forward to servicing their guests with business as usual, until the establishment closes its doors Aug. 28.
“That is the tentative date,” said Mr. Clifton, adding that he does not have any plans following the closure.
The Brick in history
The existing structure was built in 1836 by Joshua S. Layton and Caleb B. Sipple, featuring Federal and Greek Revival styles.
During the Civil War, it was known as The Union Hotel.
Following the war, The Brick Hotel has operated for over 100 years, and the building also served other purposes, including a post office, bank and temporary courthouse.
Shortly after it was built, it housed the county courthouse, while a new building was being constructed for that purpose.
History will show that when the bank closed, the property was sold to the state, which intended to replace the structure with a new courthouse. Citizens of Georgetown swung into action to preserve the piece of history with a “Save The Brick Hotel” campaign and, ultimately, the state found an alternate site.