Tag Archives: Nemours

Automobiles, Nemours Estate

Nemours was the home of Mr. Alfred I. Dupont, one of the wealthiest men in America in the early 20th century. When stripped of his directorship at Dupont, he sought out new business opportunities including investing in Florida real estate. Spending a significant amount of time in Florida, he needed a car, and kept this Buick rumble-seat coupe at his property there. The car, unlike the others garaged at Nemours, is in original, survivor condition, complete with faded paint and dulled chrome. What makes it all the more remarkable is that the car survives without major damage (or blood on the bumpers!) as Mr. Dupont was by the time he owned the car deaf in both ears and blind in one eye.

A.I. Dupont's Buick
A.I. Dupont’s Buick

His third wife, the true love of his life, outlived him by nearly 40 years. Her last car was this 1960 Rolls Royce Phantom V. According to the docents, this Phantom V is the #2 production car of that year, with #1 being in possession of Her Royal Britannic Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

Mrs. Dupont's Rolls Royce Grille
Mrs. Dupont’s Rolls Royce Grille

This headlamp belongs to the second Rolls Royce in the Dupont stable, a 1950 model if memory serves.

Mrs. Dupont's Rolls Royce Headlamp
Mrs. Dupont’s Rolls Royce Headlamp

Nemours estate, Wilmington, Delaware

From the A.I. Dupont estate, Nemours, outside Wilmington, Delaware. A.I. Dupont, director of the Dupont chemical company, built the house as a gift to his second wife in an attempt to grow her affections for him. The 40,000 square foot house was built in 18 months. The interior features an elevator that runs from the basement to the third floor, a billiard room, bowling alley, an ice factory (the house was built before electric refrigeration, so they needed to be able to produce their own ice to keep the ice boxes cold), and a central vacuum system. The laundry was put in a separate building perhaps 30 yards from the main house so they could say they sent their laundry out.

This is a view down the lawn from the mansion front, looking to the colonnade (which crowns a massive fountain on the other side). The garden urns have been prepared for winter with their canvas covers and their fountains drained. Even today, the estate totals some 300 acres, down from the original 3000.

Urn, Prepared for Winter, Nemours
Urn, Prepared for Winter, Nemours

I was at Nemours between Christmas and New Years to see it for the last open weekend of the year (it closes at New Years and re-opens in May). The house interior is decorated as the Duponts would have decorated for the holidays. No photos of the interior are allowed, so I do not have any pictures from inside the house. Photography on the grounds is acceptable, however, so I took these pictures of some of the details outside. In the spring, when garden tours are offered, I’ll have to go back and shoot the gardens in greater detail.

Here is a sphinx, one of a matched pair, guarding the front porch of the house. I loved the way her white marble glowed in the late afternoon winter sun.

Sphinx, Entrance to Nemours
Sphinx, Entrance to Nemours