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Visitors enter the historic residence via its 1914 conservatory. The House Conservatory has been restored to its 1920s appearance using Mr. du Pont's plant lists. Of interest are the arched glass windows which are counterweighted and, in summer, slide smoothly into the basement on chains; sliding screens are pulled up from below to replace the windows.
The Library is the largest room in the house, apart from the conservatory, and is the setting for a 12-minute video which incorporates newly discovered home movies to present the life and accomplishments of Pierre du Pont. Exhibit panels explore the novel features of the room and its basement, including hidden closets, sliding fire doors, a rug-rolling machine, underground tunnels with safes, a bowling alley turned civil defense shelter, and an aquarium skylight.
The elegant stairway in the Foyer adjoining the Library rises above a display of Mr. and Mrs. du Pont's steamer trunks set as if a European trip via steamship were imminent. Story labels detail the many travels that influenced Pierre du Pont when creating Longwood.
Mr. du Pont designed much of Longwood Gardens in the Den, and its appearance has been preserved. Pierre is heard explaining his reasons for purchasing the property, the drawing board displays his drawing instruments, and the desk is filled with reproduction documents. Pierre was an avid book collector, as the filled shelves attest.
The Parlor is devoted to the early years of the property and to the richness of Delaware Valley horticulture. Native American settlements in the Longwood area are discussed, along with reproductions of the original 1700 Penn land grant and 1701 survey, artifacts from the Peirce family, and illustrations from early Delaware Valley botanists.
The Great Hall introduces the du Pont family's love for gardening. Pierre's early years are explored, including the first fountain he remembered, trips to the 1876 Centennial and 1889 Paris Exposition, and his schooling at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The first garden books he purchased are displayed, along with photos and plans showing the first gardens he designed at Longwood. Video clips show old movies of Mr. and Mrs. du Pont walking through the gardens.
The Resting Room, so called because it was a favorite napping retreat of Mr. du Pont, tells of Longwood's Open Air Theatre. Photos show Mr. du Pont in Italy on the stage of the outdoor theatre at the Villa Gori in Siena (where he got the idea) and Longwood's theatre in use. Also displayed are programs collected over the decades and video clips of old and new performances. The original Theatre fountain control board, with dozens of switches and glowing pilot lights, has been preserved and is on view (to the right in the photo above).
The history of Longwood's Conservatory is detailed in photographs dating back to its 1919 construction, with behind-the-scenes looks at the boiler room and greenhouse rail system, among other highlights. Longwood's 10,010-pipe organ is depicted in photos and in a video clip of an organ performance. Displays also detail the construction of the Main Fountain Garden, Waterfall, and Chimes Tower, with video clips of the fountains and of moving huge trees in the 1930s.
In a brick-floored room overlooking the ancient trees of Peirce's Park, the Italian Water Garden is examined with 1925 construction photos, plans and calculations. An enormous frog sculpture from the garden dominates, and other carved stonework glows in a jewel-box-like cabinet. Video clips show the Water Gardens' 600 jets in action in the 1920s as well as today.
Longwood's domestic side is explored in the Pantry area. Modern conveniences of the du Pont era include an electric warming oven, towel dryer, servants' call bell, and silver safe. One wall displays photos and videos of the fabled Garden Parties and Christmas Parties as well as of John Philip Sousa's band concerts at Longwood.
The Old Kitchen highlights Mr. du Pont's philanthropic and business interests. A display of trophies and ceremonial photographs commemorate Mr. and Mrs. du Pont's community contributions.
The history of the DuPont Company is shown through a chronology of its product line which began in 1802 with black powder (explosives) and diversified into dye derivatives such as fertilizers, Freon®, and Teflon®, and cellulose derivatives including rayon, nylon, and Mylar®.
The Butler's Room features a photographic timeline showing the transformation and development of Longwood from 1954 to the present. Education and performing arts programs are also highlighted.
From this room, visitors exit into the House Conservatory.
The Heritage Exhibit has been summarized and published in book form as The Heritage of Longwood Gardens / Pierre S. du Pont and His Legacy with 64 vintage black-and-white photos and 21 color photos, available in our GardenShop.
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A team of Longwood Volunteers gathers horticultural highlights from the Outdoor Gardens and Conservatory. Download a pdf of their top picks for the week, including photos and locations.
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Journey to the wild, remote flood plains of South America and to the great gardens of Europe and North America to discover Victoria, the waterlily queen.
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When you visit our Idea Garden you will discover something new: our first-ever Trial Garden on view for our guests. This square space houses more than 250 cultivars within 10 genera: Clematis, Dahlia, Paeonia, Capsicum, Agastache, Salvia, Pentas, Lantana, Colocasia, and Canna.
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Enjoy family-fun activities, an outdoor concert, and behind-the-scenes experiences.
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