The first organized campaign to provide a State Institution in which to care for the “feebleminded” in Delaware was made by the Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1916.  The Wilmington New Century Club led in the statewide effort.  Mrs. Frank Morton Jones of Wilmington was the first general chairperson and Mrs. Selden Deemer of New Castle followed Mrs. Jones.

The land at Stockley Center was purchased for $35,472.00, the amount over $35,000.00 was donated by Governor Townsend in memory of his wife Jennie Townsend.  The farm was then deeded to the State of Delaware.  In all around 800 acres were donated.

On December 28, 1920 Mr. Howard T. Ennis was appointed at the first Superintendent. His official serviced began January 1, 1921

At a meeting of the Commission on April 20, 1921 it was unanimously approved that the institution be called “The Delaware Colony”, it was also decided that in recognition of the efficient and tireless efforts of the late Kate Deemer in making possible this institution, that the new brick building, the first to be erected on the farm of the institution, be known as “The Kate F. Deemer Cottage”.    The cottage opened to receive 6 girls on May 23, 1921.   Also on this date the action of the Federation of Women’s Clubs made provision for a Board of Visitors by appointing a chairman from each of the three counties.   This group is currently known as the Auxiliary of Stockley Center.


In 1955 the Delaware Commission for the Feebleminded was abolished and its functions and facilities were transferred to the State Board of Trustees of the Delaware State Hospital at Farnhurst.  November 1955 saw the first name change to the Hospital for the Mentally Retarded at Stockley Center.

In 1964 the Department of Mental Health was created and the hospital became of a segment of this agency.  The Division of Health and Social Services replaced the Department of Mental Health during the administration of Governor R. Peterson. (1969-1973)

The Stockley Center Chapel groundbreaking was July 25, 1967.  This is only a realization due to the efforts of Mr. J. Allen Frear of Dover who solicited every nook and corner of the State. Dedication was in 1968.

In 1971 the Division of Mental Retardation was created.  This year also saw the second name change for the facility to its current name Stockley Center. 

The first 2 DMR neighborhood homes opened in 1984, both located in New Castle County.

July 3, 2001, Governor R. Minner signed SB144 into law thereby dissolving the Division of Mental Retardation and creating the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services.

Stockley Center’s Multipurpose Center known as the MaryAnn Carpenter Center was dedicated on December 30, 2008.


Current Statistics of DDDS and Stockley Center


DDDS supports people living in neighborhood homes, shared living arrangements as well as those living with their families and the residents of Stockley Center.

Current census of Stockley Center is 44

DDDS supports approximately 1139 people receiving residential habilitation in neighborhood homes and community living arrangements. DDDS also provides case management to approximately 3782 people who live with their families or in their own home in the community.

Currently there are the following number of neighborhood homes:

Sussex County            82

Kent County                56

New Castle County     283



The Auxiliary of Stockley Center provides support to service recipients in Stockley Center and those living in neighborhood or supported living homes in all three counties. 


I do wish I could be there with you to answer any questions.  However, I am always available via email at [email protected] or by phone  933 3156.  This is just a very brief history and the involvement from the Federation of Women’s Clubs from the very beginning.  Without the groups support there would be no Stockley Center.  I do believe that Mrs. Frear was a member of a Dover Federation of Women’s Club. 

I would be happy to come another time to chat with everyone. 


Feel free to contact me at any time – I will be happy to talk to anyone individually. 


Be Well


Gayle King

Volunteer Administrator

New Castle County Respite Coordinator

Division of Developmental Disabilities Services