Saturday, October 22, 2011

Nemours

As some of you guessed correctly, last weekend I visited the stately Nemours mansion outside of Wilmington, Delaware.Built by the industrialist, Alfred I. Dupont, in 1909, the mansion was designed by the prominent New York firm of Carrere and Hastings. The French Beaux Arts styled house was loosely based on the Petit Trianon. On the main facade you can find a stretched out and enlarged version of the western elevation of the villa with a roof plopped down on top and wings to either side.


Dupont had a local contractor build the estate, much to the chagrin of the architects but he was always concerned with using local labor and materials. Much of the stone used for construction came from the actual building site. Designed on a symmetrical axis, beautiful views exist from the main house down through the gardens (inspired by Versailles that I will post on next week) of the reflecting pools and colonnade.



While interior photography was not allowed, I am able to share with you what I noticed on the exterior of the house. Pairs of gracious Corinthian columns grace the front facade.The scale of the place is immense which thanks to a very balanced design isn't instantly recognized. Notice the size of the front porch columns next to the furniture!Doesn't your house have the building date inscribed?The front terrace contains only a fragment of the many urns found throughout the grounds, all filled with beautiful flowers.

The southern side of the house features some beautiful trellis work and green & white striped canvas awnings. Yes, that trellis is flat against the house with some great use of false perspective!



Also located on the south is a neoclassical limestone pavilion which houses the plant (and bird!) filled morning room; probably my favorite room in the house! It was also the favorite room of Jessie Ball Dupont (Alfred's 3rd wife) and where she spent most of her time. Jessie died in 1970 and the house was eventually converted to a museum.


The cornice on this house is great, I love the Greek key freize.The rear of the house is much simpler stucco with the continued cheerful canvas awnings.The backyard has, I fear, suffered from neglect as the front yard is the showpiece of the estate. We were the only people from the tour to venture back here!To the right of the main house is the massive servants wing, which easily is over 1/3 of the house. Like many industrialists of the time, Dupont was obsessed with the latest technology which fills much of the basement of the wing; ice making machines, ice cream making rooms, generators, a movie theater / bowling alley and his own water bottling plant still all exists. Servants rooms are on the second floor while the first level is full of a number of kitchens and pantries.The laundry, oddly enough, is located in this small house behind the servants wing.The house must have been very efficiently run as the kitchens feel almost commercial. The yard is a practical loading dock!Join me next week for a tour of the gardens, out-buildings and an additional house on the grounds which charmed the pants off me!

14 comments:

Kerry said...

Lovely, I've never been to this one. I certainly hope that you put your pants back on. Heavens!

The Devoted Classicist said...

I love the treillage!

Hels said...

Dupont had a tough childhood, a less than lovely relationship with his first wife and children, and the money came from a gunpowder manufacturing plant. Three major strikes.

So I assume he later cleaned up his act, turning to the arts, philanthropic activities and stunning architecture. And how stunning is this!

Just the gates alone are enough to knock your socks off.

JWC said...

This house is spectacular... a striped awning gets me every time.

sandrajonas.com said...

Stefan, you take me to the best places!!
This had me at the gates, then the front landscape, perfect, classic, and the greek urns....

Interior Design said...

Breathtaking. The ground is vast and the garden is so beautiful. Kingly mansion.

The Down East Dilettante said...

LOVE these photos, and the things you observe--oh, that Greek Key frieze.

Mr. Dupont is to be much admired for using local workmen--a rare example of trickle down really working.

The grounds are really lovely, though I've always found the colonnade (designed by his niece & her husband if I remember correctly?) a bit overdone and overscaled, even for the location--it looks like something a fascist dictator would erect to the greater glory of his reign...

Separate laundry buildings on estates used to be a very common thing, incidentally---what the planning or domestic thinking behind that, I do not know.

Mark D. Ruffner said...

A great tour, and I especially like the trellis with its perspective. And you've given me the idea to include the building date on my house!

ChipSF said...

Not my favorite house but you have showcased it to perfection! Have only seen pictures of the main facade so I had no idea that very attractive servant's wing existed. The gates are stunning but what do they enclose? Can't be the main front gates since they are so close to the house....?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Annie at PlumSiena said...

Stunning "home".

So was the inside as pretty? Way over the top? Thanks for taking us on the tour!

Max D. said...

Some pictures of the inside can be seen here http://www.eastnews.pl/pictures/subject/id/00969975/section/news

Paul Gervais de Bédée said...

It's comforting to see a great estate like this so lovingly maintained, and it is a labor of love! I've never been there but this post is almost as good as making the trip.

Max DuPont said...

The house was restored lately and the firm that did the work won a Palladio Award this year. You can see the inside of the house and the plan here: http://palladioawards.com/Pall_TB11_john_milner_architects.html

Divine Theatre said...

I could live in that morning room! I love absolutely everything here.
Thank you, again!

Andie