Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wilmington DE - June 16 Tuesday

The helicopter talk around camp was that they had been searching for an escaped convict last night along the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal that is a short distance from here – maybe ¼ mile. We had thought that last night as a possibility as well as searching for a drowning victim, or a huge wreck but we heard no rescue vehicles. We will buy a paper this morning to see what we can discover or try to find internet somewhere. Another story from a young ranger was the helicopters were a training exercise from one of the nearby military bases. Who knows? Very quiet morning here with overcast skies.

Winterthur Country Estate and Museum

GPS led us the 15 miles through Wilmington suburbs to the Winterthur Museum, Mansion and Library. This was the home of DuPont and was given to the Museum Foundation prior to his death in 1969. He had three loves – in addition to his business and family – Holstein cattle, American art and furniture, and naturalistic gardening. Winterthur was fully captured the American Art and Furniture and the Gardening. We toured some of the Galleries and had a nice lunch before Ben’s appointment with the curator of metals for the museum. I note this just so I will remember it to make a similar pita sandwich one day – Antipasto Pita – with mozzarella chunks, Italian meat, sweet red pepper, and tomatoes. It was great.

Ben was meeting with the curator to review their sword collection and resource materials on metalworking. Ben, an amateur silversmith, is currently working on a silver dagger. Ben reported a wonderful visit with the curator and swords that were from the personal collection of the older DuPonts. One of the DuPont Great Grandfathers used one of the swords in the Civil War.

Ben researching in Winterthur Library

While Ben was studying swords and silversmithing, Jane toured the DuPont home, the Campbell Soup Collection of Soup Tureens, and watched a film narrated by the DuPont daughters. One is still alive and one died this year. They must have been an interesting family.

This building was unique – part home and part museum - it was large (175 rooms) with numerous bedrooms and drawing rooms etc. The original home was modest 12 rooms or so…then Mr. DuPont began collecting Americana -rooms and furnishings – He would hear about a period home being torn down somewhere in the country – he would buy it and move it to Winterthur – use the panels, fireplaces, woodwork, etc for the rooms in his home and then find furnishings to match the period of the room. Jane saw about 8 such rooms on the general tour. There were many, many more – One of the most exquisite was a drawing room papered in 16th century Chinese wallpaper that had been purchased by a woman in New York and never used. It was too large for the room he had so Mr. DuPont made the ceiling cove so it would be tall enough and moved a wall. There was also a 3 story circular staircase from a home in NC was used to replace an existing staircase. It was a most enjoyable tour. The soup tureen collection from Campbell was moved here from the Campbell soup factory because the location of the factory was not conducive to being viewed by the public. It was nice with antique china, silver, and even modern whimsical tureens.

Winterthur Room with Chinese Wallpaper

Gardens at Winterthur

Silver Turtle Soup Tureen

Reflecting Pool outside Winterthur

Jane found Ben in the Library when she went there to view an exhibit of the around the world cruises taken by the DuPont family. He was hard at work taking notes from several books from their collections. They had really given him the royal treatment. He reported one of the items he had asked to see had never been viewed by anyone since that curator had been at the museum. Ben says every item in the home that belonged to the DuPont’s had been catalogued and stored in boxes in climate controlled areas.

We visited the reflecting pool, the gift shop, and book shop before leaving to find Little Italy. Ben has been wanting a cannoli for several months. We were going to also eat dinner somewhere. We found Papa’s Pastry Shop and bought cannoli’s and a few other treats. We then drove around wasting some time until we could eat dinner. Lunch had been early so we were hungry and ate dinner about 5:45. We saw much interesting architecture in varying state of repair. We finally stopped at Grotto’s Pizza and Ben had a great Stromboli and Jane Spaghetti and Meatballs. We shared a salad. All was great and it was reasonably priced.

View Across Lum's Pond

Back at camp we finally ate our cannoli and are closed up in the Sprinter writing this blog and reading. The temperature is 70 degrees with a rather stiff wind. It appears a front is approaching and we will probably have rain off and on for the next couple days. It will be very comfortable sleeping tonight – if we just do not have helicopters! Well we did from 8:30 until about 10:30 and then they went away – at least not as long as last evening!

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