A travel journal
to Wilmington by gorboduc
Quote: The area around Wilmington Delaware is beautiful, bucolic, and full of DuPont family history.
The house and its collection of American antiques and decorative arts are an interesting destination all year round.
Further back in the DuPont family tree is Hagley, site of the original DuPont home and powder mills. Here you can learn about the process of powder milling, and take a glimpse into American business at the dawn of the industrial revolution.
Wilmington is half hour south of Philidelphia and one hour north of Baltimore, so you can make either of those cities your base of operations for exploring Wilmington and the surrounding area.
Attraction | "Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library"
General admission includes a tram tour of the extensive gardens and admission to a small group of exhibits on display in the galleries. It costs $10.
The gardens are lovely, set in acres of rolling hills. They are most striking in the spring, when many varieties of daffodils are in bloom, and early summer, when the mountain laurel, rhododendron, and azaleas which grow beneath the canopy of the forest garden are flowering.
Kids will especially love the new Enchanted Garden, which has all sorts of things to play on, including a giant hollow tree to hide, a bridge (complete with troll), and a kid-sized thatched cottage.
For $5 in addition to genral admission, you can choose from one of a number of tours though the house itself. The house is gigantic - seven floors - and is almost completely composed of rooms removed from architecturally signifigant houses and reconstructed to give Mr. DuPont a fitting place to display his extensive collection of antiques.
If you are interested in a particular sort of antique - Federal furniture, or chinese export porcelain, for example - you can call at least two weeks ahead (but you should try to make it a month, to be on the safe side) and schedule a private tour with an expert on that type of item. This used to cost $60 for up to four guests, but contact Winterthur directly for the current cost.
If you get hungry as you tour, there's a pleasant cafateria at the visitor's center, just behind where you purchase admission tickets, and a smaller snack bar in the building that houses the galleries. If you visit in the summer, perhaps the most fun way to eat at Winterthur is to pack a picnic lunch. There are picnic tables for visitors' use near the parking lot and outside of the galleries.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 11, 2002
Winterthur Museum: Garden Shop
Attraction | "Hagley/the DuPont Powder Mills"
The site also includes the DuPont powder mill - not the original, which, despite DuPont's strict safety regulations, blew up a number of times - but a slightly more recent incarnation.
The mill is set on the banks of the Brandywine River, which provided the power needed for the giant grinding stones that milled the gunpowder into uniform grains. You can watch "powder" being milled and look at the steam engine and other exhibits in the machine shop.
Set into a hill above the grinding mills are the homes of the mill workers. Setting houses into the hillside not only kept the inhabitants cool in the sticky heat of a Delaware summer, it protected them from the inevitable explosions that accompanied living next to a powder mill.
Visitors can tour the Gibbons House, furnished as if it were the home of a late-19th century powder-yard foreman, see the schoolhouse where the mill workers' children were taught, and have a plesant lunch at the Berlin House restaurant, once the office of the company's bookkeepers.
Further downstream, perched on a hill above the ruins of the original powder yard, stands Eleutherian Mills, the original DuPont family home.
Built in 1802, the handsome stone house was renovated in the Colonial Revival style in the 1920's by Louise DuPont Crowninshield, a great granddaughter of E.I. DuPont, and related by marriage to the Crowninshields who lived in the Crowninshield-Bentley House (now part of the Peabody Essex Museum) in Salem, MA.
Elutherian Mills is furnished with Mrs. Crowninshield's collection of antiques, along with several generations' worth of DuPont family artifacts.
Even if you're not into antiques and DuPont family heirlooms, the house is worth a visit to see the "modern" kitchen - the last word in culinary technology, circa 1923. The kitchen and other service areas of the house provide a glimpse into the workdays of the servants who helped the Crowninshield's build a reputation for gracious hospitality.
Admission is $11.00 for adults, $9.00 for students and seniors, $4.00 for children from 6 - 14, and free for kids under six.
Hagley Museum and Library
200 Hagley Rd
Wilmington, Delaware 19807