A Brand New Nemours
Three years and $39 million later, the estate is new again. Welcome to 1910.
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The magnificent gardens, designed after the Petit Trianon at Versailles, have been revitalized as well. They can be seen flanking the long reflecting pool down to the beautiful statue of Diana. At the garden’s center is the 12-foot tall statue “Achievement” by Henri Crenier, which was stripped of paint, then covered in 23-karat gold leaf, as it was originally.
Using aerial photographs, the restorers were able to make the gardens close to their original state. Unfortunately, the limitations of life can make some things impossible to preserve. The trees that Alfred walked under with his father, for example, cannot live forever.
Though much work has been done, the most challenging changes have yet to be made. The next phases will finish the gardens, restore several outbuildings and develop a sustainable water plan for the estate. Over 120,000 work hours have been spent, with many more to come. Fortunately, Nemours will remain open to the public during the future restorations.
One of the most important aspects of the restoration was the construction of a visitors center that provides guests with a moving video introduction to Mr. du Pont’s life and legacy. “Alfred I. du Pont did more for this state than anyone else ever has,” says Gary. It is a bold statement. But his achievements were great, and his charity outstanding.
Many people don’t know that Alfred I. du Pont helped start a state pension program by seeding it with his own funds, or that he helped break up du Pont domination of state government. Alfred I. du Pont thought that wealth was a trust, that power must be wielded responsibly for the betterment of all. He held himself true to that trust, and in his will ensured that his trustees remained true as well.
For those people who don’t know the stories, Nemours can tell all. Walk the gardens, breathe the air, and as you pass the reflecting pool, try to reflect on the beauty that one man has left behind for all of us to share and enjoy.