A Brand New Nemours
Three years and $39 million later, the estate is new again. Welcome to 1910.
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When Alfred I. du Pont died in 1935, two stipulations of his will ensured his legacy. The first established a trust to care for children and the elderly, which provides excellent healthcare at the neighboring Alfred I. duPont Children’s Hospital. The second stipulation requested that his trustees maintain and preserve Nemours Mansion and Gardens “for the pleasure and benefit of the public.”
Even more than just preservation, Alfred charged his trustees with improving the mansion and gardens. This first phase of restoration is part of a 10-year plan that will improve and modernize the entire estate, all while maintaining historic integrity. During the first phase, the entire mansion was restored and updated, installing modern climate control and fire sprinkler systems, as well as repainting the antique gold leaf that covers many walls and ceilings.
Executive director Grace Gary, who coordinated this massive project, says something as small as changing a lightbulb becomes quite an undertaking. Not only did the lightbulbs need changing, but the electric system needed modern wiring. The total length of new wire would stretch almost seven miles.
If installing seven miles of wire in an antique house without ruining the floors and ceiling seems like a challenge, imagine installing a modern sprinkler and smoke detection system. To achieve this without doing too much damage, most of the flooring was removed from the second floor so workers could install a sprinkler system for the floor below. Each piece of flooring was meticulously numbered to allow all 9,500 square feet of it to be returned to the exact place it was removed from.
Page 3: A Brand New Nemours, continues...