Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library

The Winterthur Library, part of the Winterthur Museum, was originally the home of horticulturalist Henry Francis du Pont (1880–1969). Its 100,000 volumes, early American rare book collection, Shaker materials, and ongoing exhibits make it a rare book wonderland of early American records and artifacts. A link to the rare book holdings is here:

Located at 5105 Kennett Pike, six miles north of Wilmington, Winterthur (pronounced winter-tour) has been open to the public since the 1950s. Named after a city in Switzerland, it features several vast collections of rare publications and archives. It also offers numerous academic programs, including distinctive research fellowships ranging from two weeks to eight months.

The residential community is tiny, but nearby Wilmington has a population of a midsize town. The Winterthur website describes the estate this way:

“Winterthur is set amidst a 1,000-acre preserve of rolling meadows and woodlands. Designed by du Pont, its 60-acre naturalistic garden is among America’s best, with magnificent specimen plantings and massed displays of color. Graduate programs and a preeminent research library make Winterthur an important center for the study of American art and culture.”

Henry Francis du Pont

In 1983, American Heritage Magazine published a seminal article about the du Pont family history, including their rise to prominence the development of their enormous property. It also described the home as it was presented in the 1980s. Read it here:

Joseph Downs

Of special note is the Former curator Joseph Downs was the author of American Furniture: Queen Anne and Chippendale Periods, 1725-1788.

The Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library is the third and final stop on our Delaware Author Adventures Trail.

Patricia Smart