Devon Park — a quiet residential neighborhood off Wilshire Boulevard, Kerr Avenue and Wrightsville Avenue — largely developed in the 1950s. (George Edwards with the Historic Wilmington Foundation notes that you can find a few older houses there, from the 1920s and ’30s, if you look around). Devon Park United Methodist Church, 3403 Winston Blvd., Wilmington [Map this], was founded in 1956, just a couple of years after the initial building boom. Willetts Realty launched Devon Park Extension in 1957.
According to local history librarian Beverly Tetterton, the name was chosen because the Willetts family traced its roots to the county of Devon, or Devonshire, in southwestern England. Sir Walter Raleigh was born on the Hayes Barton estate near East Budleigh in Devon. Since Raleigh was the patron and organizer of the Roanoke colony on the North Carolina coast, and since North Carolina’s state capital, Raleigh, is named for him, a Devon Park in North Carolina seems especially appropriate.
According to Devon Park resident Lan Nichols, a persistent urban legend in the neighborhood claims that a farm, which used to be located on the site, raised Devon sheep.
It’s a popular name, and not just in Wilmington. A random Google search turned up Devon Parks in Wayne, Pa., Berwyn, Pa., Independence, Mo., Royal Oak, Mich., Tampa, Fla., Milford, Conn., Greenwood, S.C., and Adelaide, Australia. Texas has a town named Devon Park, outside of Dallas.
In the Port City, Devon Park resolutely stays under the radar. Except for a brief period in the 1980s, when Wilmington city offiicials had to cope with drainage problems in the area, it seldom gets in the news.
Date posted: June 19, 2009
User-contributed question by:
Kathryn Hoffman Thurston