Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year (The Old Money Edition) Part 2

There are few "givens" in the world.

One of those is that the early du Ponts made a lot of money off the manufacture and sale of gunpowder. At the turn of the last century they were so dominant in the field that the U.S. government ordered them broken into three separate companies.

That's big.

"Longwood", the estate purchased by Pierre S. du Pont in 1906 reflects just what one of the wealthiest men of his era could create given deep pockets.

How deep? Well, he and two cousins had enough money to buy the family business back from investors in 1902. Oh, and Pierre was no slouch when it came to gunpowder. Having graduated from MIT with a degree in chemistry, he was one half of the duo that created "smokeless" gunpowder.

Lest I forget, he made millions off investing in a small automotive company that under his leadership became the largest automotive company in the world.

Yeah, that one.........General Motors.

Seeing as disposable income was not much of a problem for the fellow, he set out to see the world. He also set out to indulge his passions of plants and music.

On a scale of 1 to 10 I have to give him an 11.

Pictures of the original estate with the "Conservatory" addition.

Now I have to tell you, you MUST click on picture number three of the poinsettias.

I'm 6'00" tall.

Those pictures were taken at eye level.

I'm a big fan of white poinsettias.

These were among the most fantastic I have ever seen in person.

The skies were getting grey and Wintry looking. We decided that maybe it would be best to walk the grounds and save the indoor exhibits for later.

Free map in hand, we headed out to see what we could see.

The small wooden cross was very moving. The Lenni Lenape tribe was once the dominant population of the Delaware Valley region. They were a peaceful tribe who negotiated with the European settlers.

We continued our trek eastward on the property. The next stop was the "Italian Garden" and its fountains.

For some odd reason we believed the fountains would be on in January.

Obviously, that wasn't the case.

Still, they were worth the long walk.


With nothing else to see past here, we headed back to the west.

With most of the "seasonal" gardens dormant, there wasn't much to see per se. However, to sundial was pretty interesting to spend some time examining. Maybe next time it will be a sunny day where we can check its accuracy.

We continued our trek westward.

Pretty soon we came across an odd looking building. It looked a bit like a bucolic office or a later attempt to make some rest rooms appear to match the time period when Mr. and Mrs. du Pont lived here.

It was neither.

While Chris was exploring the rest room, I walked around front.

Mr. du Pont was a huge lover of music. He had this outdoor stage and seating area built so he could hire bands to entertain his family and guests.

Pleas click on the picture of the sign at the end. I'm pretty sure John Phillip Sousa didn't play many "private affairs".

He did here, though.

We resumed our hike.

The du Pont's loved their small conservatory so much, that Mr. du Pont decided to build a slightly larger one on the property.

But that's only if you consider 4.5 acres under glass small.

The formal garden was to be the site for the New Year's Eve fireworks display. Frankly, my back was starting to spasm. Long story short, I fell off a step ladder as a teen and have had them ever since. Especially when I over do it. By this point, I was very close to being ready to leave.

However, I did want to walk down and get a view of this garden. It is where the majestic fountains that grace the estate were built.

Like the Italian Fountains, they were shut off for the Winter.

That doesn't mean we didn't see something cool.....

We saw the "soul" from one of the trees trying to escape.

I felt sorry for it.

Looked like it had been stuck there for some time.

Gotta tell all y'all, this was one of the best Christmas presents I've ever received.

We're looking forward to going back later this year.

I'd like to see the gardens in the other three seasons.

I'm a geek like that.

Until the next time, all y'all take care of yourselves.

Air Traffic Mike, ret.