If you are looking for history and charm as well as an energetic and culturally inspirational atmosphere, downtown Wilmington is definitely the place to be. It's lively, warm and relentlessly interesting.
Many of the homes date from the mid-to-late 1800s and the first quarter of the twentieth century. There are stunning examples of Victorian, Italianate, Renaissance, Neoclassical and Revivalist architecture. Homes in the area, small cottages and large mansions alike, feature high ceilings, hardwood floors, fascinating detail, front porches and all of the interesting characteristics one would expect of vintage homes.
Within the Historic District proper, many homes have been restored, but there are still handyman bargains to be had, especially in the areas outside of the district in the Historic Overlay. The level of downtown neighborhood restoration is most stable at the river and diminishes as you head east toward the ocean at about Eighth Street.
Some solidly rediscovered older neighborhoods beyond downtown are the Mansion District and nearby Carolina Heights and Carolina Place. Both flank Market Street beyond 15th Street. These neighborhoods date from the 1920s, and architectural styles vary. Many of the larger homes started out as handyman bargains or fixer-uppers and were returned to their former elegance. Carolina Heights and Carolina Place begin at around 17th Street and continue to 23rd Street. Carolina Heights is almost exclusively single-family homes. In Carolina Place, the home buyer will find more diversity in architecture and price. It is regarded as the new frontier for not only residential investors, but also homeowners, largely thanks to its relatively new status as an Historic Registry District.