Building Winterthur

In 1929, three years after he inherited Winterthur, H. F. du Pont began to build an addition onto his ancestral home. Construction began in June 1929 and finished in April 1931. When completed, the new du Pont residence was 72,000 square feet. Even before construction ended, du Pont was making plans for the future.

On March 1, 1930, the New York Times carried the new incorporation of Winterthur, a charitable trust. Du Pont’s goals for the trust were stated in an April 30, 1930, memorandum:

It is my intention and desire that Winterthur and the surrounding grounds shall be kept in perpetuity as a Museum for the education and enjoyment of the public…

The 14-page document describes in great detail du Pont’s vision for the museum, including his desire that the place must always “retain its charm.” Remarkably, on March 10, 1930, the month when it was legally incorporated and du Pont set down his vision of how the place should be run, its color schemes, the porcelain displays, the flowers in the rooms etc., the building looked like this:

Courtesy of the Winterthur Archives


Maggie Lidz is Winterthur’s estate historian and curator of garden and estate objects.

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