Winterthur was the mansion owned by a member of the duPont family. The duPont's have a long history, and if I remember correctly, emigrated to America some time in the 1800's. The duPont's are also the founders of the DuPont Company, a chemical company which invented, among many other things, cellophane and nylon. This afforded them a leisurely lifestyle, so the duPont's turned their attention to agriculture and gardening as well.
The last owner of Winterthur was Henry Francis du Pont and he was an avid collector of Americana, or American antiques. Once he inherited Winterthur, Henry duPont began to make it his own by placing his collection in the house, in various rooms. The mansion is huge, and the holiday tour we took only goes through two floors of selected rooms. One of my favorite rooms was the parlor.
The family and guests would come here after dinner to play bridge, have drinks, and smoke cigarettes. The wallpaper contains hand painted scenes from daily life in China. It was originally from China, and was found in a warehouse in France. Due to the odd shape of the wallpaper it would not fit a normal room. Therefore duPont adjusted the ceiling to fit the wallpaper so it wouldn't be cut. I can just imagine what it was like to be a guest enjoying a highball in this room.
All of the rooms are just simply gorgeous, so my mom and I will be going back in the spring to see them again and see if the tour changes with the seasons. Plus we will be able to see the gardens in the Spring time. A little too cold in December to walk around and admire the azalea gardens, which we were told are quite extensive.
In addition to the rooms, there are collations of pieces and furniture from early Americana. Sometimes there are collections on loan on display. The one that was there in December was called Faces of a New Nation, on loan from the MET. It was paintings of early American families. It was simply beautiful. We spent the whole day touring the various exhibits and rooms.
I should also mention the food in the cafeteria here was delicious. It is all grown on the property and the sandwiches are made on the premises. Very reasonably priced too. Oh yes, and the staff were super friendly. Great to talk to and very knowledgeable.
Here is a link to some pictures I took from the tour. I apologize because some of them are quite blurry.
So if you ever find yourself in the Delaware Valley, and are looking for something different to see and do, stop by Winterthur.