America's Best History Spotlight

On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area. And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find. You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't. It'll be fun. Visit them.

Hagley Museum Visitor Center, Delaware

Hagley Museum, DuPont Ancestral Home

To call the Hagley property a museum, or even a mansion, is actually a misnomer. It's as much a park of early american industrial progress and first story of the DuPont family when the came to America from France to make their first U.S. fortune in the gunpowder business as it is those two things. It's a plethora of tours and living history spread around 235 acres of Brandywine Valley shade, including the ancestral home on the hill, Eleutherian Mills. And you don't even have to walk from here to there; there's bus service between the Visitor Center, Powder Yards, Spinning Mills, Worker's Hill, and that mansion. Photo above: The Visitor Center and exhibit hall of the Hagley property, which are housed in the Cotton Spinning Mill of the DuPont Gunpowder Works.

  • Eleutherian Mills Mansion, Hagley Museum

    Hagley Museum and Grounds

    To know the history of Delaware, particularly from the 19th century on, you have to know the history of the DuPont family. Prior to that, in Revolutionary War times, there was that First State identity, which still exists today, although most, despite a new National Monument of that name, might really not know why outside the first acceptance of that Philadelphia document. But in 1802, when E.I. DuPont, the family patriarch, decided that the French Revolution was not the best place to be for a man with a grudge against Napolean Bonaparte, and eventually he to him, he crossed the ocean with family in tow, settled in the northern Delaware Brandywine Valley and began a businees. Oh, dad would go back to France for most of his life, returning after Napolean got out of prison, but the family would endure on this acreage. They would start to build an empire along the Brandywine Creek in the somewhat dangerous trade of gunpowder manufacture, coming up with a formula and process that would become the best in the world. And their customers, including the United States Government, were continually coming back for more, from the War of 1812 through the beginning of the 20th century.

    It was a dangerous trade, although not much more so than other professions at its time. Explosions occurred about twice per year and took the lives of workers at about the same pace. The ancestral home (photo above) was built atop a hill that could overlook the factory, and it would grow from a large, but modest by mansion comparison to other DuPont properties, through the years, damaged twice per session with exploding windows, knocked over furniture, and more. That would eventually lead to the family vacating the home and taking residence elsewhere. But once the factory was closed in 1921, and the explosions ceased, the family moved back until the 1950s. Then the musuem, library, industrial revolution buildings and history would begin to tell the story to the general public.

    Today, you can visit all of those aspects of the Hagley site, many of which are in remarkable shape, with some in industrial disrepair or ruin. A shuttle bus takes you from the Visitor Center/Exhibit Center to the various sites (you can walk if you want except to the Eleutherian Mills mansion) and take in the various tours and demonstrations of the manufacturing process, plus the life and times of the early DuPonts.

  • Hagley Museum

    What's There

    A collage of the industrial revolution, from the home of the DuPont family when they first arrived in America in 1802, to the mills, workshops, and worker's homes that made up the community along Brandywine Creek and began one of the most successful businesses in the United States for two hundred plus years.

    Handicap accessible for entrance and facilities. There are picnic tables, vending machines, and a Cafe for food and beverages.

    How Much to Visit

    $14 per adult, $10 students and seniors, $5 youth (6-14), under 6 free.

    Hours Open

    Open daily 10:00 a.m. to 5 p.m., except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Shuttle bus runs every fifteen minutes most days between the various sites. Expect to spend a half day at Hagley to see most of the exhibits, houses, and demonstrations.

    Where Is It Located

    The Hagley Museum is located at 200 Hagley Creek Road, Wilmington, Delaware 19807. It's actually about four miles north of Wilmington proper off Route 141. That would make it thirty minutes from Philadelphia and ninety minutes north of Baltimore.

    Website - Hagley Museum

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