The Nicest Place in Delaware: Estates at Saint Anne’s in Middletown
NICEST PLACES IN AMERICA 2019 FINALIST
"Where Friendly People Thrive"
Here is the unique town where being different is normal and people banded together to demand respect for those who deserve it.
This former farming town, once lined with peach orchards, has boomed in the last 20 years, growing to 20,000 from just 2,000 at the turn of the century. Much of that growth has been driven by new construction and subdivisions like the Estates at St. Anne’s, where our nominator, Mike McCarthy, relocated with his wife and children from Staten Island, New York.
“It’s a very family-friendly place,” he says. “A lot of transplants, very multicultural, very diverse, and I like that. My job [in the finance industry] is rough, but when I walk home, it’s like, ‘Aaaaah, yes.’”
Middletown, a small, flat, green city about 25 miles south of Wilmington, halfway between the Chesapeake Bay and the Delaware Bay, has long been a diverse place, with a deep-rooted African American population. It was a key stop on the Underground Railroad, with Harriet Tubman a regular visitor. Tolerance and inclusion are deep-seated principles. Welcoming folks—not pushing them away—is the norm.
So after the recent New Year’s parade featured a float with a vulgar, immigrant-bashing theme, hundreds of citizens of the town that USA Today recently tagged as having Delaware’s “best quality of life” showed up to a town council meeting to say what’s on their welcome mat.
Before any of them had a chance to speak, Middletown Mayor Ken Branner said “we are not going to tolerate this,” according to a report in Delaware Online. The intentionally edgy “Hummers Parade” usually elicited one or two complaints, but this year there was a downpour in reaction to a display one group of local lawmakers called “divisive, mean-spirited, and entirely counter to our state’s values.”
“Over 200 people showed up demanding some standards,” recalls native Brent O’Neill, a divinity student currently working at Middletown’s Church on Main. “We really care about what’s right. We care about diversity . . . I was really proud of our town. It was so full, I couldn’t even make it through the door.”
Americans know that there’s more that unites us than drives us apart—and we prove it every day. That spirit is what draws Middletown residents together every year for the annual Peach Festival, something everyone agrees makes their town special.
“Thousands of people come out,” says O’Neill. “You get to see everyone out in one place, being proud of their community.”
A beautiful, dynamic community on a brand new golf course with beauty that goes on forever. We are a diverse community who all look out for each other. I have never lived in a place with so many wonderful people and cultures.
The neighbors always look out for each other’s homes, pets and well-being. If something’s broken there is always someone there to help fix it. If a pet is lost there is always someone to help find it. Need a babysitter? Usually always someone in the community to help. Everyone has a beautiful home with great landscaping next to a brand new golf course which is getting more and more beautiful every day. There is a driving range, pool and restaurant right inside the community. There are multiple shops and restaurants within three miles. It’s simply an amazing place to live. Everything is new! Once again. The nicest bunch people all in one place! I’m so lucky to live here!
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