Monday, November 17, 2008

Here's What Wilmington Looks Like.



I know you stay up nights wondering what design looks like in Wilmington, Delaware. Well, these images from the Holiday issue of Traditional Home magazine give a glimpse into a home a few blocks from me. It must be in Wawaset Park because Westover Hills calls itself Greenville (home of Joe Biden). I'll go check tomorrow because it might be right here in The Highlands. (Update: Actually, I checked and it's in Westover Hills.) Anyway, this design is actually kinda racy for Wilmington.

Wilmington wears its buns tight. There is a lot of old money and a lot of new money that likes to pretend that it is old. Old money is not impressed. Old money will cut you.

It has a vast park system. The parkway and park near my house were designed by Frederick Law Olmstead of Central Park fame. Most of the old mansions were du Pont homes. They were abandoned long ago when people stopped having insane, excessive amounts of money to live in them, including the du Ponts. Except for Brip (Irenee) du Pont who still lives in this chateau in the Brandywine Valley.

Drive-by photography by HG

The Brandywine Valley is tres scenic and only a minute or two from the city. Brip lives in 3 rooms, the rest of the place is closed off. He drives an ancient Honda Accord or something and wears shoes that are 20 years old. That's how you know you're really rich. Some other mansions are turned into museums, such as Winterthur (Win'-ter-ter), about 5 miles away. The local crazies tend to be duPonts as well - inbreeding, don'tcha know?

There is one old mansion in my neighborhood which belonged to the family of Caesar Rodney (of the famous midnight-ride-through -a-thunderstorm-to-sign-the-Declaration-of-Independence- breaking-the-tie fame) where the gardens have been lovingly, voluntarily restored (that is, restored completely by volunteers) but the mansion is wholly derelict. I love that mansion and it is one of my life's goals to see it rehabilitated (I may be too late). Here are some photos of the gardens and the house at Gibraltar.






The gardens are just open to the public. For free. You can just go hang out or take your wedding party for photos or ride your bike and have a morning coffee there. Also a block from my house is Rockford Park, another part of the neighborhood park system. There's a huge dog park and baseball fields and a water tower that still functions: the engineer who built it also built our house so he had a place to live while he was working on it.


This is the Grand Opera House which has been completely restored and is a fabulous place to see a concert or a musical. I saw Brian Setzer (from Stray Cats) Orchestra last year at the holidays and it was awesome. It's such an intimate place.


Wilmington is the largest city in the state, home of the Blue Rocks and is the corporate domicile of more than 50% of the publicly traded companies in the United States, and over 60% of the Fortune 500. If Delaware is a very small world, then Wilmington is, well, smaller than a small world. But then its motto: "Wilmington. A Great Place to be Somebody" ruins everything.

14 comments:

David said...

Wow, who knew it was so beautiful there! I love cities that had the foresight to build park systems.

But the buttoned-downness, blech. If memory serves, aren't you a Chicago girl?

The Nerdy Fashionista said...

lovely and interesting! That is more than I ever knew about Delaware before. (No slight to Delaware, it's just that my interaction with it until now has only consisted of I-95.) Those gardens are especially beautiful.

Decorina said...

I visited Wintertur (can't remember how to spell it - this doesn't look right) as many times as I could when I lived in DC. Even got my own "little old lady" with a flashlight to go on a custom tour a couple of times. I love that place.

Isn't Longwood Gardens in Delaware, too? But I never heard about the other gardens with the derilict house...would love to see those. And the run down house.

Cool post.

hello gorgeous said...

Yes, David, I am a Chicago girl. Button-downness is not my thing. It is really beautiful though.

Longwood Gardens is in Kennett Square, PA, but it's only about 10 minutes or so from here (you can tell I'm from Chicago, I describe distances in minutes).

Gibraltar is the name of the garden in my neighborhood. I should add it to the post if I didn't say it. It's just sitting there, boxed in on a corner by ivy-covered walls.

Raina said...

Old retail story: I was placing an order in the John Derian booth at market in Atlanta many moons ago, when I noticed the buyer next to me was wearing a badge that indicated she was a buyer for the Winterthur catalog. She was very young and trying to decide between two trays.

I knew one would photograph better than the other and politely indicated so. I received one of the nastiest looks ever. That's my only Winterthur experience.

And thank you for the gorgeous tour.

citysage said...

Hi Gorgeous! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog today and for your lovely comments. I just adore your blog---it's one of my fave daily reads!

And how did you know that the bags under my eyes are the result of sleepless nights wondering about design in Wilmington? If I had known it was this chic I would have just come for a visit to settle the matter long ago ;)

erin@designcrisis said...

"old money will cut you."

Best. Quote. Ever.

Cote de Texas said...

for moi? two posts? haha!! thanks, I swear before this i had no idea on the map where it was! I always thought it was more north somewhere around MA. What an idiot!!!
love the line about Delware blocking Maryland's view. Maryland does have unattractive water views in the pictures I've seen?? no??? thanks for the history and geography lesson.

PutzFrau said...

I never really thought much of Delaware until now. Thanks for the sneak peak!

hello gorgeous said...

Raina, yep, that sounds like Wilmington.

Citysage - Thanks, doll. Yes, it is really beautiful here. On the outside.

Erin - I am to please. *wink*

Joni - I was going to add a larger map for perspective... HAHA! Maryland has the Chesapeake Bay which is really beautiful down around Easton and St. Michaels.

Putzfrau - Sure.

Pigtown-Design said...

Maryland's got great ocean views (except for Ocean City - what a dump).

I am partical to Olde New Castle. You should post about it!

Anonymous said...

Nice pictures, and you have a lot of Wilmington right. I used to say, "nice place to live, but I wouldn't want to visit here." But now it's both! One comment: Granogue is a fully functioning, totally used family home -- 3 rooms? Nah. It's a happy place!

Anonymous said...

Nice pictures, and you have a lot of Wilmington right. I used to say, "nice place to live, but I wouldn't want to visit here." But now it's both! One comment: Granogue is a fully functioning, totally used family home -- 3 rooms? Nah. It's a happy place!

hello gorgeous said...

Thanks, Anon, for the info. It makes me happy to know that.

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