Essential Architecture- New England

Winterthur Museum


H. F. du Pont and his father, Henry Algernon du Pont


Winterthur, near Greenville, Delaware


c. 1880


Colonial Revival (with French influence).




House Museum
Winterthur Museum and Country Estate is an American estate and museum in Winterthur, near Greenville, Delaware, now housing one of the most important collections of Americana in the country. It was the former home of Henry Francis du Pont (1880-1969), a renowned antiques collector and horticulturist. Until recently, it was known as the "Henry Francis DuPont Winterthur Museum."

In the early 20th century, H. F. du Pont and his father, Henry Algernon du Pont, designed Winterthur in the spirit of 18th- and 19th-century European country houses. The younger du Pont added to the home many times thereafter, eventually moving to a smaller house on the estate when the main building became a public museum.

Winterthur is situated on 979 acres (4 km²), with 60 acres (0.2 km²) of naturalistic garden. There were 2,500 acres (10 km²) when it functioned as a country estate.

Initially a collector of European art and decorative arts, H. F. du Pont reported that it was Electra Havemeyer Webb, later the founder of Shelburne Museum in Vermont, who first interested him in American art and antiques through the paintings of Charles Louis Heyde. In 1929, he drew worldwide attention when he purchased a tambour desk, made and labeled by John Seymour, Cabinetmaker in Boston, at Parke-Bernet auction galleries in New York for a then-record sum for Americana in excess of $30,000. Subsequently, he became a highly prominent collector of American decorative arts, building on the Winterthur estate to house his collection, conservation laboratories, and administrative offices.

There are 175 period-room displays in the museum and approximately 85,000 objects. Most rooms are open to the public on small, guided tours. The collection spans more than two centuries of American decorative arts, notably from 1640 to 1860, and contains some of the most important pieces of American furniture and fine art. The Winterthur Library and Research Center includes more than 87,000 volumes and approximately 500,000 manuscripts and images, mostly related to American history, decorative arts, and architecture. The facility also houses extensive conservation, research, and education facilities.

In the 1990s, more informal museum galleries were opened in a new building adjacent to the main house where special rotating and permanent exhibits are now housed. The museum also is home to the Winterthur/University of Delaware Art Conservation program

Winterthur's area
Main museum (period rooms and offices) 96,582 sq. ft. (8,970 m²)
The Cottage (home of H. F. du Pont after opening of the museum) 21,345 sq. ft. (1,980 m²)
The Galleries 35,000 sq. ft. (3,300 m²), 22,000 sq. ft. (2,000 m²) display area
Research Building 68,456 sq. ft. (6,340 m²)
Visitors Center 18,755 sq. ft. (1,742 m²)