Friday, May 29, 2009

My Own Grey Gardens.

Gibraltar is my local version of Grey Gardens (although there's no one living in it). I have taken to playing the lottery in an effort to win enough money to restore it.

Gibraltar was built by the nephew of Caesar Rodney (of the all-night run on horseback in a thunderstorm to sign the Declaration of Independence and break the deadlock of the Delaware contigent), was afterward owned by another of the Rodney progeny and a du Pont and is currently owned by Preservation Delaware. There is a group interested in purchasing it if they can get the code changed to allow it to be made into a conference center. I do not like that idea. Neither do the residents of my neighborhood. The original plan was to turn it into a bed and breakfast or an inn.

The gardens were originally created in the 1920s by prominent landscape architect Marian Cruger Coffin (she also designed the formal gardens at Winterthur). They were restored in 2001 and are cared for by volunteers. The gardens are open to the public for free and are available for weddings and gatherings for a fee.

I also found out through My Grey Gardens that Grey Gardens the Musical will be in Philadelphia May 22 through June 28. Guess who will be going?


Decorina said...

You get my vote to win if just to restore that place. Fabulous.

Paul Anater said...

Great house, great post and if Christine Ebersole's in the Philly production I guess I'm due a road trip to Philly. It's an amazing show.

vicki archer said...

This 'Grey Gardens' is fabulous and so deserves a sympathetic restoration. The gardens are so beautiful - my fingers are crossed you win the lottery (I think it might take a lottery to pay for it).....Happy weekend, xv.

Raina Cox said...

There is a certain beauty in dilapidation, but I would love to see that house lovingly restored.

A Beach House Dreamer said...

Yes, I think with a few million dollars it would be fun to restore this beauty.

The Townhouselady said...

Wow, what a great home.

It always saddens me when I see homes of this caliber fall into disrepair.

Tell you what, if I win the lottery I'll go in with you.

erin@designcrisis said...

But if it gets restored I can't squat inside with my sterno and baked beans, and I want to go to there!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Oh, how much I would love to get my greedy little decorator hands on this!! What a perfectly equisite place. Yes, definitely play that lottery!!

Jill said...

I can't get over the's beautiful!

alice said...

This looks magical... even (or maybe especially so) in the state its in!

CMS said...

Stunning,just stunning.

Ivy Lane said...

WOW, I hope this "Grey Gardens" gets a loving restoration! If it was in my town, I would definitely volunteer!

Martha said...

What a great house and what beautiful gardens -- I'm hoping that it can be restored.

RobtW said...

Thanks for the Gibraltar post. It's been a favorite house of mine for 30 years or so. I used to live a couple of blocks away and recall the house and gardens when both were beautifully maintained.

Much as I appreciate ruins, this house deserves much better. In its decaying state, it looks more austure, more brutish than it really is. The conservatory was a beautiful space, and now looks grim.

A conference center would be a great shame, and so would a bed-&-breakfast or inn or, really, anything but a single-family house (though some of the ancillary buildings could easily be carved away for condos or apartments.)

If I recall, H. Rodney Sharp's heirs didn't want the bother and expense of the place sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s, and at the time potential buyers of a house of its size and expense were drawn more to country estates west of Wilmington. If the condition had not deteriorated so over the years after the Sharps dispensed with it, I wonder if it might have found a buyer as a single family residence. Despite being in the city, it's has no shortage of privacy with its great stone walls and gardens.

TheBeautyFile said...

So beautiful! Love these shots. I would love to see the "after" shots as well!

Nikki said...

I grew up about 2 blocks from that building in Wawset Park, and remember sneaking onto the property with friends and looking around. What an amazing place.
It breaks my heart that they may turn it into a conference center.

hmstrjam said...


home before dark said...

Maybe we all should come up with lucky numbers and play for restoration.

Maria Killam said...

It would be amazing to restore that house! Beautiful, thanks for sharing it with us!

pve design said...

If you win, I will do an illustration of it for you!
Even in a "grey gardens" state, it is gorgeous.

kathleen said...

Wow, what a house. And, what fabulous gardens.

chateaudelu said...

I totally know this house. So many of the historic houses in DE that are in shambles either get bulldozed or turned into conference centers. Here's hoping you win the lottery!

cotedetexas said...

this is so gorgeous - what a shame no one lives there! a conference center????? are they serious????? gee what a waste. that wisteria! gorgeous!

hello gorgeous said...

Way belated response to PVE: I will definitely keep you posted. ;-)

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