Friday, January 8, 2016

Peirce-Dupont Mansion Treasures at Longwood

The Peirce Dupont Mansion at Longwood Gardens is unique to the other Dupont Mansions that are open to the public. Only the downstairs is walk through and the rooms are not that big, but there are traces of wealth and some very Fascinating historical pieces.

Native American spear points found on and around the Longwood property dating as far back as 2000 BC.

An Official William Penn clay seal. You don't come across one of these every day. It was attached to the Penn Peirce land grant. William Peirce originally acquired the property from William Penn and the property stayed in the family until 1897, passed through several owners and went into tragic disrepair until Pierre Dupont purchased it.

During the Peirce years, twins Joshua and Samuel Peirce collected native and exotic trees in the 1800's. George W. Peirce pictured in the c. 1841 photo opened up the property to the public to enjoy as one of the finest arboretums in the country.

Pierre Dupont is said to have become interested in gardening when he saw the conservatory at the Baldwin House on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. The house pictured above, St. Armour was the home of Pierre Dupont's mother and some of his brothers and sisters.  He hired a landscape artist to dress up the property, having disliked the work, he redid it himself. The gardens are a common thread among several of the Dupont homes that are open to the public. Each of them possess there own uniqueness and charm. You have to visit them all to appreciate and see the houses. Hagley, Winterthur and Neumours are they only other three I know of that are open to the public.

Original Peirce home

First conservatory connection

House extension

It is not really that small when you put it all together. This is the view from the Birdhouse, Treehouse.

The Peirce-Dupont Mansion would be considered modest compared to Winterthur and Neumors but there is certainly nothing modest about the gardens. If I have it correct, and admittedly so I have been wrong at least once before, the first picture is the front of the originally built Peirce home, followed by the glass atrium designed as a garden living room that connects the other half of the house and then the back view that lets you easily see the extension.

Inside the house, in the library, you can view a video on Pierre S. duPont an his purchase of the property to save the trees from the sawmill. He referred to his purchase as a "pleasant attack of insanity". Wouldn't it be nice to have the money to make such  crazy purchase and aren't we glad he did. The portrait I believe is of his wife Alice Belin and of E.I. Dupont, the founder of the Dupont Company. Modest really would be a bad choice of words but compared to the other Dupot Mansions, the rooms are smaller and it is sparsely furnished. I meant to ask if they were original to the Dupont Family.

One of the rooms was set up as an acknowledgement, award, trophy room.  Mr. Dupont did not have any children and was very generous with his money, helping out good causes including hospitals and schools. He was awarded the French Legion of Honor certificate in 1953 and the Medal of Honor in 1954. You don't see one of those every day


The kitchen in these affluent houses always knock me out. Look at all that cabinet and draw space. I was perplexed by the large black cabinet that was opened. I thought maybe it was a refrigerator from its size.  Look closer inside, it's a safe for the silver. So maybe this wasn't the summer home of modest means folks.

Mr. du Pont was on the cover of Time Magazine, January 31, 1927.  He was the President of Dupont and GM at the same time.

The original control board for the fountains is on display inside the house. It is a toss up for me which was the coolest item in the house, the control board or the William Penn seal.  It's all really cool and a nice tribute to both the Peirce and Dupont's that lived there. Stop in.

The Duponts are an interesting family, somebody should do a mini-series. It sounds like something Ken Burns could do to me.


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