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The People's House

A restoration of the governor’s mansion shows off a successful marriage of history, elegance and comfort, as well as First Lady Carla Markell’s emphasis on volunteerism.



(page 6 of 8)

The Woodburn fountain, while lovely, has not been renovated, but may be next year. Photograph by Jared CastaldiA renovation of such magnitude could have been expensive, but nothing was paid for with state money. When funds were needed, the Friends of Woodburn raised them. Numerous volunteers made the redo possible, says Markell.

Fred Carspecken, of Carspecken-Scott Gallery in Wilmington, was paid by the Friends to frame “Untitled Landscape,” an original Howard Pyle that hangs in the dining room. Carspecken then reframed several other pieces pro bono. House painters did everything at cost. J.D. Kurtz of Wilmington charged for the Oriental carpet in The Great Hall, then donated the dining room rug. New fabrics throughout the mansion were remnants from the outlet center at Calico Corners, sold by Calico’s Jan Jessup at a significantly reduced rate.

A new vegetable garden, tended to by the Future Farmers of America of Kent County and others, renders produce that’s donated to local shelters. Newly hung paintings—including Wyeths and Schoonovers—are on long-term loan from the Brandywine River Museum, Delaware Art Museum and the Biggs Museum of American Art.

Justifiably whopping designer fees also were waived. “It was a fun, few afternoons pulling together all the various swatches to create the family-friendly 2010 Woodburn,” says Mottola. “Understanding the significance of the property, we were able to blend many of the original antiques to accompany the 21st century redo of upholstered items.”

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Woodburn Gallery

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