Local Legal Historic Sites – Home of John Biggs Jr.
This house at 1310 W. 14th St in Wilmington is today an apartment building near Trolley Square. But in the early 1900s it was the boyhood home of John Biggs Jr. Biggs, born in 1895, was a Wilmington attorney who eventually became chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. After his marriage, Biggs moved from the house on 14th St to Wooddale, an estate west of Wilmington.
But perhaps Biggs’ most interesting claim to fame is that he was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Princeton roommate. Biggs and Fitzgerald shared an interest in literature and writing, working on the Princeton literary magazine together. Biggs later wrote several novels and short stories.
In 1927, Fitzgerald was having trouble concentrating on his writing. Biggs convinced him that he should move somewhere quieter and less literary than New York or Hollywood. Somewhere boring. Somewhere like Delaware. Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda rented a mansion near Wilmington called Ellerslie. However, Fitzgerald was still distracted from his writing, taking the train to New York for the weekend and throwing raucous house parties at Ellerslie. Zelda took ballet lessons in Philadelphia. They lived in Delaware for two years off and on until they moved to Europe. Ellerslie was eventually torn down and is today the site of the DuPont Edge Moor plant. When Fitzgerald died in 1940, Biggs served as executor of his estate.
Much of this information is from the only biography of Biggs: Seymour I. Toll. A Judge Uncommon: A Life of John Biggs, Jr. Legal Communications, Ltd, 1993.