David Finney Inn

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Family ties to property are strong, causing spirits to reside here but willing to co-exist.



The David Finney Inn building is home to The Sonora Restaurant and The David Finney Inn, which itself has a bar, with an upscale restaurant, an event room, and a Law Firm on the second floor. The building is a 15,000 sq ft, three story structure originally built in 1685. While the exterior has most of the features of the original centuries-old structure, the interior has been extensively changed and remodeled to meet the commercial and family needs to survive as a 21st-century business.

finney-paranormalThe Sonora and The David Finney Inn are not listed on any register of historic places because the original structure has been changed too much for the guidelines used by both state and federal historic place registers.

The third floor has five apartments: two are rented out to people through Airbnb, keeping a toe in the Inn business. Apartment 4 has room for six guests with six beds, two bedrooms, a kitchen and one bath.

Apartment 2 has room for four guests, with two beds and one bathroom, and a kitchen. These are modern apartments, with some historical features as well, such as the window sills.

The three other apartments may be offered to other visitors, or may be rented long term, or serve as the residence of the owner and his family.

The second floor is rented out as the business home of a Law Firm, with offices in modernized rooms. Part of the first floor may have more historical features, as these rooms are used for the Law Firm’s conference rooms.

When The David Finney Inn was put up for sale in 2017, it was mentioned that the second floor was ready to be built out to create 10 guest rooms, if a potential buyer wanted to turn the building back into a destination inn after evicting the Law Firm from the second floor.

That leaves part of the first floor as the spot for a large bar area, a private dining room (seating 65-70), and the patio (seating over 50) for Sonora Restaurant patrons. The Sonora Restaurant has hired a terrific, creative chef who specializes in “Gourmet Comfort Food”, while the bar has come up with ”Specialty Drinks” as well as serving classic drinks, offering something for everyone. The Sonora also has live music and Karoke music.

Another popular draw is their stylish interior, romantic atmosphere, and a wonderful Sunday brunch. Despite the modern interior, there are still some historic features inside, which adds a venerable aura.



Dutch immigrants founded New Castle in the mid-1600s, at this strategic location by the Delaware River.

There seems to be some confusion about the initial use for this building. Some say that the David Finney Building began as a home for the Finney family, with law offices for David Finney on the third floor.

It is thought by some that Finney, a very successful lawyer, built it himself in the 1680s , before his father, Dr. John Finney, built his Amstel House across the street in the 1730s. David Finney was a brilliant lawyer, who also taught other aspiring lawyers, such as his cousin, Thomas McKeen, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Other sources claim that it was built by Dr. John Finney, for his son David, to be a Tavern and Inn for travelers in 1685. Still others say it was meant from the beginning to be a commercial business, a bread and butter family endeavor.

Dr. Finney’s grand mansion (now the Amstel House Museum) is located right across the street from The David Finney Inn building. There once was a tunnel connecting the two structures, allowing any family members and household help to travel between thm without hindrance from snow or disagreeable weather.

After looking at the registration form for NRHP for the Amstel House, I think the David Finney Inn building was an inn and tavern when it was built in the 1600s, before David bought it. David could’ve renovated it to suit his needs, turning it into the family home, and perhaps adding the third floor for his law offices.

The structure has changed through its history to suit the needs of its owners. In 1794, Judge James Booth Senior bought the property, and expanded it. He lived there until 1825. The old building was then turned into a boarding house. In 1895, it evolved into the Hotel Louise. Over the years it continued to go through architectural changes. Finally, it was turned back into an inn and tavern, with drinks and food offered, appropriately called The David Finney Inn.

The Inn enjoyed a healthy income for years until a new bridge, the Delaware Memorial Bridge, was finished in 1955 and stretched across the Delaware River. This ended commerce in New Castle, turning the city into a bedroom community for Wilmington.

The Inn had to find other ways to bring in income, as the year round business class clientele became almost non-existent. The inn focused on becoming more of a local draw instead, during the non tourist seasons, offering more of a menu, and making an outside patio for people to eat or drink. They tried to bring in more social events as well.

The David Finney Inn stayed being an inn, bar, and restaurant until 1994. At that point it became clear that more money was needed to pay expenses, taxes and other expenditures involved in running an inn. The owners decided to lease the second floor to an upscale business that could afford to pay more than guests; thus going back to the days of David Finney’s Law Firm. Perhaps they did rent out some of the third floor apartments to local residents, leaving a few to perhaps rent to travelers.

Part of the Law Firm’s rent also included use of some of the rooms on the first floor to meet with clients or for meetings.

Probably, the bar area and tables received a stylish upgrade, hoping to generate interest. Live music was added and Karaoke was offered. Probably, game night might have been added. Pub Quiz was very popular during the 1990s’. They tried to make their Inn a destination for a fun night out and a place to relax and meet with friends.

By 2017, the bar and meal area was nearly turn key. The apartments, and the building in general, were spruced up. At this point the owners put the whole property on the market for two million five hundred dollars.

The David Finney Inn was sold to new energetic owners with great plans to implement. Every part of this structure was put to work effectively to bring in more money to more than survive; even with the required $5,000 fee to have a liquor license from the city, and pay nearly 20,000 dollars in taxes.

The new owners upgraded the patrons’ experience by adding a more cozy and romantic features coupled with higher quality food and specialty and classic drinks. To cut rental costs, they signed up with Airbnb for the renting of two of the five third-floor apartments.

So far, their Sonora Restaurant and The David Finney Inn have been enthusiastically received and enjoyed a good income. One wonders if the happy spirits here are pleased by the new owners’ success and are urging them on. They may admire all the improvements in the food, drink and atmosphere, giving this place a new life and a promising future.



One or two spirits still enjoy this property and are interested in watching what is going on. They are even willing to share the building with the living.

People who have built their business and enjoyed running it while alive, may stick around as spirits and watch the living. If they once had living quarters on the premises, they may especially enjoy their personal living space and have great memories of it.

Dr. John Finney, who built the property so long ago before passing it on to his son, may be the family member who still loves it today.

But his son, David, may also be the spirit who inhabits the third floor. He may still remember his law offices; a place where he enjoyed much professional success.



The Spirit of David Finney

may be the spirit who likes the apartments on the third floor.

Guests who stay in the apartments are well aware of an unseen presence through its strange paranormal activity.

Windows open and shut, doors open and shut, lights probably go on and off. Faucets probably go on and off.
Items are moved around the room, found in different places than where the living had put them.

The Spirit of Dr. John Finney

May hang around the bar and restaurant, watching people have a great time here.


Probably so. While it is not known for sure who still resides in the third floor apartments, or who is watching the activity on the first floor, witnesses have seen and experienced unseen presences.

A boatload of strange activity has been reported by witnesses who have stayed in the third floor apartments.

Paranormal groups have investigated this property, with many declaring it is haunted indeed.

Paranormal groups have surmised that the spirit is either David or Dr. John, because the same activity is found at the Amstel House across the street. No hard evidence has been shared online though.



216 Delaware Street
New Castle, Delaware 19720
(302) 322-1233

The Sonora and The David Finney Inn building is located on the corner of W. 3rd Street and Delaware Street. Its strategic location overlooks “The Green” in the center of New Castle Historic District, which is also the area at the center of the First National Historic Park.


  • The Ghost Hunters Field Guide, by Rich Newman, Llewellyn Publications, 2010.
  • www.hauntedrooms.com
  • m.facebook.com/sonoradfi/
  • www.innsforsale.com
  • paranormalstories.blogspot.com

Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

Haunts in Delaware