Philadelphia botanic garden Longwood Gardens has just acquired Granogue, a massive historic estate in Delaware.
The 505-acre estate in New Castle County, Delaware was once the home of Irénée du Pont, Jr., a descendent of DuPont chemical company founder Éleuthère Irénée du Pont. In the early 20th century, the elder Irénée du Pont hired Alfred Spahr to build a Colonial Revival house that was used by the family for generations. Today, the farmland, forest, pasture, and meadows of Granogue comprise one of the last parcels of unprotected open space in the Brandywine River Corridor.
In partnership with The Conservation Fund, Longwood Gardens entered into an agreement with GRLLC, the legal entity that owns Granogue, to own and operate the estate.
“Preserving this beautiful land is important to our family,” said Grace Engbring, the GRLLC’s du Pont family representative, in a press release. “Longwood Gardens has shown great care in stewarding our great-uncle Pierre’s former estate, and I know Longwood will ensure Granogue thrives into the future. My father was committed to keeping Granogue as open space to be enjoyed by many and he did this very gracefully just as Longwood will continue to do.” Engbring is the the daughter of Irénée du Pont, Jr. and his wife, Barbara. Irénée died last month at age 103.
The acquisition plan dates back to 2016, when GRLLC, Longwood Gardens, and The Conservation Fund discussed possible preservation strategies for the 100-year-old estate. The group complete a master plan in 2018 and 2019, with a focus on maintaining Granogue as a pastoral cultural landscape.
Mt. Cuba Center and the Longwood Foundation contributed money toward the acquisition, while some du Pont family members have funded a permanent endowment that will provide for estate’s operations and advance its mission. In 2020, Forbes stated that there are 4,000 du Pont heirs and pegged the family’s net worth at $16 billion. They are currently the seventeenth wealthiest family in the United States.
The Granogue acquisition is a continuation of Longwood Garden’s legacy and ownership. The property was once owned by Pierre S. du Pont, who purchased it to save its historic trees from being felled for lumber. Today, the public can stroll through 1,100 acres of manicured gardens, meadows, and woodlands.