Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rosie And XKT Visit Longwood Gardens. The Peirce-du Pont House And Lookout Loft. Part 2.

Here's the map so you can keep up with XKT and Rosie.
Welcome to the Peirce-du Pont House at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, developed in five stages. The house gets its name from the two families who lived here for a combined total of over 200 years. The Peirces built the house in 1730 with additions in 1764 and 1824. When Pierre S. du Pont bought the property from the Peirce family in 1906, the purchase included their early 18th century farmhouse on the right. Pierre du Pont enlarged the house in 1909. In 1914, he built an L-shaped addition, adding Longwood's first conservatory and the north wing, including the library and upstairs bedrooms, doubling the size of the home. The conservatory connects the old and new wings. It is luxuriously planted with exotic foliage and designed as an enclosed garden living room.
Century plant.
The library.
Dollhouse. Information gleaned from the Peirce-du Pont house:
Native Americans
The Native Americans who lived in the area that is now Longwood Gardens called themselves the Lenni Lenape, which means the True or Original People. Living off the rich diversity of the streams and woods, they fished and foraged for most of their food. At times, they constructed dams to maximize the fish harvest. They supplemented their diet by raising maize (corn) and by hunting venison, bear, and elk. The Early Peirces
Longwood's recorded history dates from 1700 when George Peirce (1646-1734), a Quaker farmer, purchased from William Penn's land commissioners a 402-acre tract of land in the unsettled township of East Marlborough. Mr. Peirce and his wife, Ann Gaynor Peirce, had emigrated in 1684 from Bristol, England. In 1703, George Peirce divided his property, giving half his acreage to his daughter Betty when she married Vincent Caldwell. In 1709, George's son Joshua built a log cabin on the remaining acreage and cleared the land for farming. In 1730, Joshua joined the log cabin with the brick farmhouse that became the Peirce family homestead. Today, the entire 402 acres from the original Peirce land grant are part of Longwood Gardens. The Peirce surname can be traced back to the end of the 13th century when it was one of the most popular names in England. The Peirce family motto means "he said and he did."
Joshua Peirce Samuel Peirce Botanical study and exploration thrived in the late 18th century when twins Joshua Peirce (1766-1851) and Samuel Peirce (1766-1838) inherited the Peirce property. Fascinated by the study of botany, the twins enjoyed collecting trees. In 1798, they began to plant an arboretum near their house. Although the arboretum had many deciduous trees, its most conspicuous feature was an evergreen collection laid out in parallel rows. In addition to trees, the brothers collected native plants from New York, western Pennsylvania, and Maryland and acquired exotic plants from nurseries and through exchanges with fellow botanists. By 1830, the Peirce brothers had developed one of the finest collections of trees and shrubs in the nation. Plants from their arboretum were mentioned in several horticultural publications in the 1800's.
George Washington Peirce
After the deaths of Samuel in 1838 and Joshua in 1851, Joshua's son, George Washington Peirce (1814-1880), inherited the Peirce farm. He operated the property as a working farm, but he also took his responsibility for the arboretum seriously, constantly adding to the collection of trees. At the same time, he developed the property into a pleasure ground, adding croquet courts, rustic summer houses, and rowboats for the pleasure of guests. The arboretum became known as "Peirce's Park," and the parties and picnics held here were frequent Chester County social events. When George died in 1880, the Park was in its prime, both as an arboretum and as a pleasure garden.
Early Botanists In the 18th century, Philadelphia was the largest colonial city and the center of botanical interest in America. The region's advanced horticultural activity was due to the benevolent attitude of the Society of Friends (Quakers) toward the study of natural history. The Quakers, who settled in large numbers in and around Philadelphia, encourage inquiry into the natural world as a way of understanding God. The botanical activities in the Delaware Valley inspired the development of the Peirce arboretum. Botanists John and William Bartram, the Painter brothers, Humphry Marshall, and other area plantsmen all lived within 30 miles of the Peirce farm.
Eleuthere Irenee du Pont Eleuthere Irenee du Pont (1771-1834) arrived in America from France in 1800. In 1802, he settled near Wilmingon, DE., along the Brandywine River, where he founded E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company. Although he made his livelihood from the production of black powder explosives, he considered himself a botanist. Trained in botany and horticulture in Paris, he took an immediate interest in the plants he found in the Delaware Valley's forests and
gardens. He created a large formal flower and vegetable garden at his home, Eleutherian Mills, today part of the Hagley Museum and Library. "When I began building my establishment here it was like settling in the back country, no road, no decent house, no garden...being without a garden was the greatest deprivation, and it is the first thing that occupied my time." E. I. du Pont, August 6, 1803
Pierre Samuel du Pont Pierre du Pont (1870-1954) was born five years after the close of the Civil War, in 1870, at Nemours, a DuPont Company property near Wilmington, DE. He was the eldest son of Lammot and Mary du Pont, who had 11 children. His early life was spent along the Brandywine River in the company of his brothers. sisters, and many cousins. In 1881, the family moved to Philadelphia. His childhood ended abruptly in 1884 when his father was killed in a nitroglycerin explosion. At the age of 14, Pierre assumed a family leadership role that would last throughout his lifetime. Pierre du Pont's interest in gardens and fountains began at an early age. When he was six years old, he visited the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876 and later wrote: " ... the basin in Machinery Hall Hall was captivating beyond description with its jets of all kinds spurting like mad and without cease.... I could have remained all day beside this pool...." At age 19, Pierre took his first trip to Europe and visited several famous gardens. Two years later, he laid out his first garden for his mother's new home in Wilmington. Pierre du Pont Acquires Longwood In 1906, Pierre du Pont learned that the magnificent trees at Peirce's Park, as Longwood was then known, were about to be cut for lumber. On July 9, he contacted his lawyer, Isabel Darlington, who arranged for him to purchase the property and the lumbering contract. He acted in time to save most of the trees then began improving the property, a project that would last his lifetime. Pierre du Pont Creates Longwood After the death of George Washington Peirce in 1880, his heirs allowed Peirce's Park to deteriorate. In 1905, after 200 years of ownership, they sold the property to people who planned to cut the trees for lumber. When Pierre du Pont learned of this, he purchased the land in 1906 to save the magnificent trees. He named his new farm "Longwood" and began to indulge his interest in horticulture. It soon became his retreat from the business world and a place where he could entertain his family and friends. Initially, Pierre du Pont did not have any professional gardeners on his staff, nor did he seek design help from outside firms. He spent the winter of 1906-1907 developing plans for the Flower Garden Walk, which was installed south of the house in the spring of 1907. In 1908, he added three enclosed gardens: the Square Pool, the Sundial Garden, and the Rose Garden. He later wrote that the "sectional features ... give an air of privacy that appeals to people. Many groups may visit the grounds at the same time, each one maintaining a feeling of being apart from the crowd.
Travels Pierre du Pont's business and pleasure travels introduced him to ideas he incorporated into his garden designs. On trips in the Americas and to Europe, he visited villas and gardens, including 80 in France and Italy. He was thrilled by the fantastic 1876, 1889, and 1893 World's Fairs that proclaimed a new age of technology. At Longwood, he combined his favorite elements of European gardens with a World's Fair exuberance to produce his own unique creations. In 1917, Mr. and Mrs. du Pont traveled from Philadelphia to San Francisco by rented railroad car. While in California they visited many estate gardens. They also visited nurseries to investigate plants they later used in the conservatories.
Alice B. du Pont
Alice Belin was born July 15, 1872, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. She was the third child of nine children. Her family was prominent in Scanton where her father was head of the E. I. du Pont Company in Pennsylvania and was actively involved in financial and industrial businesses. The Belin family was of French extraction.
Alice graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1892. She was active in civic affairs, especially the American Red Cross where she was trained in preparing surgical dressings during World War I. Che created her own charitable organization called the Nileb (Belin spelled backward) Foundation in 1917. She married Pierre Samuel du Pont in 1915. Together, they traveled through Europe and brought ideas back to their Pennsylvania estate to develop gardens and fountains. Alice was a gracious hostess for the many entertainments, dinners, and parties that were held at Longwood, until her death on June 23, 1944. Alice du Pont was actively involved in several horticultural organizations, including the Garden Club of America and several plant societies. She and Pierre were charter members of the Orchid Society of America. Alice served as vice president of that organization from 1924 until her death in 1944. When Alice traveled alone from time to time, she wrote to Pierre about ideas she found for Longwood projects. She imported plants from overseas and placed orders with domestic companies for the gardens and conservatories at Longwood. Alice du Pont had several plants named for her; a yellow rose in 1928, a pink canna hybrid in 1923, Mandevilla, a pink-flowered tropical vine, in 1962, and a white cattleya orchid in 2005. Alice was especially fond of orchids, daylilies, irises, lilacs, and roses. Open Air Theatre Pierre du Pont became interested in the performing arts as a child, when he played with a toy theater. In 1913-1914, he built the Open Air Theatre at Longwood, inspired by a garden theater he had seen in Italy. By 1915, he had installed fountains in the stage floor. The Open Air Theatre was first used for entertainment at a June, 1914, Garden Party. Over the years, it has hosted hundreds of performances, many benefiting local charities. Nearly 2100 guests nestled in the sylvan setting can enjoy the spectacle. Afterwards, a short display of the stage fountains provides a memorable finale.
Conservatory Soon after completing the Peirce-du Pont House conservatory in 1915, Pierre du Pont considered building a much larger greenhouse. He was not able to implement his plan until after World War I. In 1921, after three years of construction, the Orangery and Exhibition Hall opened, with adjoining greenhouses to grow flowering plants and fruits. Mr. du Pont added the Music room in 1923, the Azalea House in 1928, and the Ballroom in 1929. Italian Water Garden From 1925-1927, Pierre du Pont constructed the Italian Water Garden. He had been thinking about such a garden for nearly a decade, following his trips to Italy in 1910 and 1913 and to France in 1925. He chose the Villa Gamberaia, near Florence, Italy, for his inspiration. The Italian original has only a few fountains, but Longwood's Water Garden has more than 600 jets recirculating 4500 gallons of water per minute in 18 pools. From 1990-92, the Italian Water Garden was completely rebuilt to its original appearance.
Main Fountain Garden Pierre du Pont was encouraged by the success of Longwood's Italian Water Garden and Open Air Theatre to create the ultimate fountain display to rival one he had seen at Chicago's 1893 World Columbian Exposition. The Main Fountain Garden is a unique combination of Italian ornamentation and French grandeur, with a heavy dose of World's Fair showmanship.
Life at Longwood Mr. and Mrs. du Pont hosted many special events that were eagerly anticipated by both friends and employees. A highlight of the Wilmington summer social season was the Longwood Garden Party, held most years between 1909 and 1931, with one last affair held in 1940. Beginning in 1922, Pierre du Pont invited John Philip Sousa and his band to perform at Longwood. Friends as well as the public attended this popular event. One of the most popular employee activities was the Christmas Party, a tradition started in 1919. Each year, the du Ponts enjoyed personally distributing gifts to a hundred or more children of employees. Dancing nymphs at the 1915 Garden Party The Wilmington, DE, "Every Evening" reported: "...attention was directed by a spot-light to a clump of trees nearby, where appeared dancing figures of young girls in filmy draperies of white, below which protruded their bare feet. The romped and cavorted among the branches and finally made their way to the stage, where they danced a "Spring Frolic." It is said that Pierre du Pont referred to these performers as "anesthetic" rather than "aesthetic" dancers. Philanthropy Pierre du Pont was one of the Delaware Valley's leading philanthropists. He gave in excess of $8 million to build more than 120 public schools in Delaware and Pennsylvania, and he donated $2 million to the University of Delaware. He contributed more than $3 million to area hospitals, providing over $1 million to the Chester County Hospital alone. He also embarked on a public road improvement program which lasted 48 years and cost several million dollars. Adjusted for inflation, his charitable contributions to the community would amount to approximately $120 million today. Dupont Company The DuPont Company was founded in 1802 by Eleuthere Irenee du Pont (1771-1834 to manufacture gunpowder along the Brandywine River near Wilmington, DE. Pierre du Pont (1870-19554), the great-grandson of Eleuthere and founder of Longwood Gardens, assumed leadership of the Company in various capacities from 1902 to 1954 and guided its transition from a family enterprise to a modern corporation. Under his leadership, DuPont became one of the largest chemical companies in the world. Mr. du Pont also directed the development of General Motors from 1915 to 1929. Because of his innovations in transforming these businesses, he is often regarded as the father of the modern corporation. Longwood Gardens Today When Pierre du Pont died in 1954 at the age of 84, he left Longwood with a well-established horticultural tradition, experienced businessmen (his nephews) as trustees, and a sizable endowment. Today, professional management oversees the constantly evolving Gardens. Pierre du Pont's remarkable vision combines horticulture, architecture, theater, and music into such a unique garden experience, it's easy to see why Longwood is perhaps the ultimate garden treasure. Longwood Gardens, Inc. and the Longwood Foundation Pierre du Pont considered Longwood Gardens to be part of the du Pont family legacy. Planning for the continued operation of the property after his death, he formed Longwood, Inc., in 1914. In 1937, he created the Longwood foundation to handle his charitable giving. After his wife's death, he was more concerned than ever about Longwood's future. In 1946, the government gave approval for the Longwood Foundation to operate the Gardens "for the sole use of the public for purposes of exhibition, instruction, education, and enjoyment." Today Longwood Gardens, Inc., is a private, not-for-profit organization that receives no government money. Funding comes from Perre du Pont's endowment, admissions, shop sales, educational programs, facility rentals, and restaurant income. Major projects are funded by the Longwood Foundation, which also provides grants to other not-for-profit and charitable institutions.
After visiting the Peirce-du Pont House, XKT and I followed the path to ...
Lookout Loft. A treehouse.
A cool, shady forest walk leads to the treehouse.
The treehouse is near the edge of the forest and about 100 yards from the managed meadow.
This is a feast for the senses. The crafted wood, graceful curves, rich textures, and golden colors convey warmth and strength amidst the towering trees.
Visitors listen carefully to the amplified sounds of birds through a brass ear horn. Longwood is committed to protecting their trees. The houses do not use any trees for support, nor do they impede or impact any part of the trees.
The wooden walkway from the forest path leads to a platform with a tree growing through the floor. The deck timbers do not touch this tree nor any other.
Now I want a treehouse.
Took XKT and me around 1 1/2 hours for this little jaunt. Regular people, count on 2-3 hours. Stay tuned for the conservatory.

1 comment:

Marilyn said...

I wanted a tree house after reading The Swiss Family Robinson in elementary school.