Delaware Public Media

Popular New Castle County ice cream stand earns historic recognition

Oct 25, 2019

An ice cream stand in the New Castle area has been designated as a historical site.

Delaware Public Media’s Nick Ciolino recently spoke with Madeline Dunn, National Register coordinator-historian with Delaware’s Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, about the preservation process and the history of the Dairy Palace.  

Parker’s Dairy Palace on Route 141 has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The stand was built in 1954 as a Dairy Queen franchise and was bought two years later by Vince and Joyce Parker. The shop has remained in the family ever since serving soft serve ice cream.

Madeline Dunn says when the Dairy Queen corporate office wanted to remodel the franchise in 1970, the Parkers decided to purchase the stand and preserve its original appearance—changing the word “Queen” to “Palace” in the sign.

“There are lots of soft serve ice cream stands throughout the state of Delaware, but this one maintains its original glass façade; its overhang,” said Dunn. “It is just a wonderful, wonderful building.”

The county and the University of Delaware conducted a more than yearlong historic research process on the property funded by a National Park Service grant. Dunn says the proposal to seek the historic register recognition was then approved by county and state review boards.

“They looked at the historic context and looked around, ‘how many of these buildings survived today?’” she said. “Very few have survived throughout the state let alone New Castle County that have as much integrity which means there’s very little change, particularly to the exterior of the building.”

The Parker family still own the Dairy Palace and with the new designation can apply for a historic tax credit as well as state and federal preservation grants.