The Hunt Gallery

About Winterthur 

Henry Francis du Pont and Winterthur, His American Country Estate

Winterthur is a country estate comparable to great English country houses. It is nestled in the rolling hills of the Brandywine River valley of northern Delaware on the East Coast of the United States. Henry Francis du Pont (1880-1969) was the great-grandson of Eleuthère Irénée du Pont de Nemours (1771-1834), who arrived in America in 1800 to establish a gunpowder company. The firm evolved into the corporation known today as DuPont. In 1837 James Antoine Bidermann married E.I. du Pont’s daughter, Evelina, and they named their residence Winterthur after Bidermann's ancestral home in Switzerland. Evelina's nephew, Colonel Henry Algernon du Pont, became the next owner of Winterthur, and his son, Henry Francis du Pont, was the third generation of that branch of the family to nurture and care for the estate.

In 1916, H.F. du Pont married Ruth Wales of Hyde Park, New York. They maintained an apartment on Park Avenue in New York City for many years, but their first house was Chestertown in Southampton, Long Island, New York. There du Pont installed interior architecture to create settings for his collection of American antiques. After he inherited Winterthur in 1927, his vision took shape as he installed period architecture as backdrops for his growing collection of antiques, designed garden areas, developed one of the most famous Holstein herds in America, and established a library and a center for learning connected with the University of Delaware. Winterthur was opened to the public in 1951.

Today the estate's 1,000 acres encompass a mansion of 175 rooms filled with 85,000 objects that were made and used in America between 1640 and 1860, a beautiful garden of more than 60 acres shaded by majestic trees, a research center for the study of American decorative arts and antiques, and meadows and woodlands that buffer against the modern world.

H.F. du Pont is considered one of the most prominent antiques collectors and interior decorators in America. His attention to detail and his ability to move ahead on multiple projects simultaneously was awesome. Today Winterthur continues the tradition of excellence he exemplified and is an enduring testament to his vision.

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