The Crowninshield Garden at Hagley Museum and Library

The Crowninshield Garden at Hagley Museum and Library is named for its designers:  Louise du Pont Crowninshield and her husband, Francis (“Frank”) Boardman Crowninshield.  The Crowninshields were the last residents of the du Pont family home at Eleutherian Mills—part of Hagley Museum since 1958.

Visiting the Garden

The garden is off-limits to the public for safety reasons associated with the garden’s current condition.

To support efforts to stabilize the Crowninshield Garden with an eye towards its eventual restoration, click here.

Though closed to the public, limited portions of the garden are visible from various vantage points during a visit to Hagley Museum. It can be viewed from a safe distance during the historic home and garden tour and from the shuttles provided for connection between the two ends of Hagley’s 235-acre property. 

More About the Garden

Louise and Frank Crowninshield began designing the garden in the 1920s, after Louise’s father, Henry Algernon du Pont, bought Eleutherian Mills (the area encompassing the historic home and garden) from the DuPont Company in 1923.  He envisioned the restoration of the family home and surrounding areas as a father-daughter project to preserve this important part of Delaware history with connections to broader American and global stories.

In their garden, the Crowninshields attempted to recreate sale replicas of architectural features they had seen on their travels in Rome. It was intentionally designed to appear aged and worn by time. Features included extensive statuary—much of which is still housed in Hagley Museum collections—colonnades, Italianate pools, and layers of terraces. 

Incorporated in the design are 19th-century refining kettles. These massive, metal bowls were used to refine—or purify—saltpeter for the production of gunpowder and other explosives. These refining kettles reveal the deeper layers of the garden’s history. Like the rest of Hagley Museum and Library, the Crowninshield Garden sits on land that was part of the Dupont Company’s black powder factory system. That company was founded in 1802 by Louise du Pont Crowninshield’s great-grandfather, Éleuthère Irénée du Pont.

The Crowninshield Garden is unique among American garden landscapes. In its current form, it is a maintained ruin of a 1920s ruin garden, built on top of the industrial ruins of a 19th century gun powder factory. It is a ruin within a ruin with a ruin.

With your support, Hagley can continue stabilization of this wholly unique garden landscape. Donations to the stabilization and restoration are welcome and can be made HERE .

Those interested in supporting the project may also contact the Development Department at (302)-658-2400 x 329.

Public tours, group tours, and other experiences are currently off limits to the public until further stabilization and restoration are completed.  

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The Crowninshield Garden in the news:
Eye on America (June 2023)
Smithsonian Magazine (March 2023)
Washington Post (August 2021)