Take an unforgettable journey through the rolling hills of the genteel Brandywine Valley landscape and discover the lasting influence of the Du Pont family dynasty from city-side to country-side. This journey is a true Delaware original, often referred to as Chateau Country. The byway leads to an unparalleled concentration of historic sites, magnificent estates, glorious gardens and mesmerizing museums where visions from a vanished century abound.
History and horticulture, art and antiques, majestic scenery and the story of scientific discovery are beautifully woven together along the alluring and unforgettable Brandywine Valley Scenic Byway to create a unique travel experience. The byway is a living museum with a series of outdoor rooms that show the way Wilmington has grown and prospered, while also preserving its rural and estate landscapes for which this region is widely known.
At the start of the byway in downtown Wilmington, Rodney Square was developed as a center of civic activity in the early 20th century. The square included the monumental Hotel du Pont, the Wilmington Institute Free Library, the Federal Courthouse, and the U.S. Post Office (now Wilmington Trust). At the time, the square was symbolic of the international stature that major corporations such as DuPont had brought to the city. Today, it is the start of the scenic byway, which highlights the same stature achieved along its entire byway length in many ways.
Traveling north from downtown along the byway just past I-95, but still in the City of Wilmington, the byway passes the Delaware Children’s Theatre; late 19th century houses of worship such as Church of the Holy City (Swedenborgian), Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, and Westminster Presbyterian Church; the mid-20th century commercial areas, such as Union Park with its art deco style of car dealership buildings; early 20th century, planned neighborhoods including Wawaset Park, Kentmere Parkway (designed by Frederick Law Olmstead), Rockford Park, Highlands, Westover Hills and Gibraltar Mansion.
Leaving Wilmington, the visitor begins to sense the picturesque, preserved landscapes of numerous American country estates. The estates, created and maintained by heirs to the duPonts, feature large, elegant mansions, outstanding gardens, agricultural complexes, stone walls and other “edges”, gatehouses, tenant houses, and pastureland.
Today, these estates remain largely intact and greatly enhance the byway travel experience. Visitors can explore rooms full of antique furnishings, discover what life was like decades ago and participate in exciting, educational activities. Travelers can visit the grounds of duPont family estates and parks now available to the public. These include prominent cultural institutions such as the Delaware Museum of Natural History, Hagley Museum and Library, Nemours, Winterthur Museum and Gardens and Longwood.
In the byway corridor, landscaped gardens are a vital component of the historic landscape associated with country estates of the early 20th century. Noted landscape architects such as Marian Cruger Coffin (1876-1957) designed numerous gardens including Mount Cuba, Winterthur and Gibraltar. Unique historic gardens are also found at Hagley, Nemours, Oberod, and Goodstay Center. One of the best-known gardens in the corridor is the internationally famous Longwood Gardens just over the state line.
The institutions that evolved from former country estates are now the stewards of a large portion of the byway landscape. The vistas at the Methodist Country House, Wilmington Country Club, Delaware Museum of Natural History and Winterthur, represent the beautiful images that are typical of the Brandywine Valley landscape. Here the history of America, social, economic, horticulture and art will be laid out before you as you travel the rolling hills of the Brandywine Valley Scenic Byway.