The Nemours Mansion and Gardens is a 300-acre (120 ha) country estate with jardin à la française formal gardens and a classical French mansion in Wilmington, Delaware. Built to resemble a French château, its 105 rooms on five floors occupy nearly 47,000 sq ft (4,400 m2). It shares the grounds with the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, both owned by the Nemours Foundation at 1600 Rockland Road. The estate is part of the Du Pont family legacy and is located on the DuPont Historic Corridor.
Nemours was created by Alfred I. du Pont in 1909-10 as a gift for his second wife, Alicia, and named for the north central French town affiliated with his great-great-grandfather, Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours. Carrère and Hastings designed it, and the architecture is of the Louis XVI-Rococo style of French architecture.
The mansion contains rare French 18th-century furniture and an eclectic collection of notable antiques, works of art, and tapestries. Artworks range from 16th-century religious works to paintings by the European masters to early works by Americans Frederic Remington and Sidney Lawrence. Of particular interest is a rare Louis XVI musical clock, circa 1785, by David Roentgen and Peter Kinzing, which plays four tunes on a dulcimer and pipe organ. Another clock at the mansion with a connection to French royalty is one made for Marie Antoinette, which she never received. The mansion also has a chair from the 1937 coronation of King George VI, an event which was attended by Alfred I. du Pont's third wife Jessie, and a chair from Independence Hall.Alfred I. du Pont's own portrait is also in the mansion.
The estate has the most developed and largest jardin à la française (French formal garden)-style landscape park and collection of individual gardens in North America. The design is patterned after the gardens of Versailles surrounding the Petit Trianon at the Château de Versailles. Their central axis extends 1/3 of a mile from the mansion facade, paralleling the main avenue leading to the house. The grounds are beautifully landscaped with plantings, fountains, pools, a carillon tower, statuary, and a pavilion surrounded by naturalized woodlands.
The Nemours mansion and gardens reopened its gates on May 1, 2008, after closing in 2005 for a 3-year, $39 million renovation. The work, commissioned by the Nemours Foundation, was performed by world-class conservators, artisans and craftspeople who refurbished furniture, fabrics, tapestries, interior finishes, paintings, and sculptures. The comprehensive reconstruction included replacing the entire electrical system, draining and repairing the 800,000-gallon reflecting pool, and landscape restoration of the extensive formal gardens plantings, constructed design elements, and statuary.
In June 2012, the state of Delaware filed suit against the duPont Trust and Nemours Foundation, claiming the trustees were not following duPont's intentions, Delaware was not receiving their proper yearly distribution, and the $72 million renovation should not have been included in Delaware's share of foundation distributions. Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden also objected to the Nemours Mansion and Garden prohibiting access by children under 12 and limiting total visitors to 48 per tour on the 222-acre property.