Brandywine Valley: Country Life at its Finest
Photo by Joe del Tufo
Follow Del. 52 northwest out of Wilmington and, in a few short miles, you’ll find yourself deep into the Brandywine Valley, what we also refer to as Chateau Country.
It is a beautiful area of heavily wooded terrain and, in some spots, steep hills, a sharp departure from the normal topography of Delaware. It is equally rich in history and culture. The Brandywine Valley is where the Battle of the Brandywine was fought, where the du Pont family made its fortunes, built its company, and built estates like Winterthur and Nemours that attract visitors and scholars from around the world.
It is also the place where Howard Pyle established the Brandywine American School of illustration and shaped the art of Frank Schoonover, N.C. Wyeth and others.
Included in the area are Greenville and Centreville, and though they share the same zip code, they are nevertheless quite distinct in character.
Greenville is an affluent suburb of Wilmington. Neighborhoods like Westover Hills and Westhaven tend to feature large homes on expansive lots. The farther you move from its epicenter, the greater the likelihood of encountering mansions on mini-estates in neighborhoods like Way Ridge, West Farm and Breidablik.
Not all that long ago, the small unobtrusive strip shopping center that hugged the Kennett Pike featured small quietly affluent shops like Johnson’s Pharmacy and Shield’s Lumber plus a few clothing shops like Finkel’s and Marjorie Speakman.
Today that same area boasts Greenville Crossing I and II, the Greenville Center and Powder Mill Square. Janssen’s Market is joined by upscale restaurants like Pizza by Elizabeth’s and BBC Tavern & Grill and boutiques like Francesca’s and Peter Kate Shoes all designed to serve the needs of a luxury community.
Centreville plays country squire to Greenville’s suburban chic. Founded in 1750, the village maintains much of its original character, thanks to the Centreville Civic Association and the Kennett Pike Association. The Friends Centre Meeting House has existed as a place of worship since 1711 and Buckley’s Tavern is as popular today as it was in the mid-18th century.
Quaint shops like Hardcastle Gallery, Wild Thyme, Crystal’s Vintage & Costume Jewelry, Barbara’s Antiques & Books, Garrison’s Cyclery and the Centreville Café still populate Centreville.
Centreville is also home to the world-renowned Winterthur Museum and Gardens which sponsors the Point-to-Point Steeplechase each spring. The Delaware Natural History Museum offers more recreational and educational opportunities.