Bellevue Hall

800 Carr Road, Wilmington, New Castle, Delaware

Built in 1855, for Hanson Robinson (1815-1871) and his wife Anne Poultney (1815-1887). However, it is better known as the home of the du Pont family from 1893 until 1965 who completely transformed it from the Gothic-Revival castle the Robinson's named Woolton Hall into a replica of their summer home in Virginia, Montpelier, best known as the plantation home of James Madison, 4th President of the United States. Today, this Colonial-Revival mansion is one of several properties that make up Bellevue State Park and as a popular venue it hosts a variety of activities....

This house is best associated with...

William du Pont

William du Pont, of Bellevue, Delaware & Montpelier, Virginia


Anne Rogers

Mrs Anne (Rogers) Zinn, du Pont


William du Pont Jr.

William Francis du Pont Jr., of Liseter & Bellevue Hall, Delaware


Jean Liseter Austin

Mrs Jean Liseter (Austin) duPont


Margaret Osborne duPont

Mrs Margaret Evelyn (Osborne) duPont, Tennis Champion


Margaret Varner Bloss

Margaret Varner Bloss, Champion Sportswoman


Mrs Annie Zinn was a divorcée when she began an affair with William du Pont (1855-1928) while he was married to his cousin, May du Pont. William divorced May to marry Annie in 1892, but Delaware society was so scandalized by what had taken place that they closed ranks and ostracized the young couple. With life now untenable in Delaware, they left for England in 1893 but just before doing so William bought Woolton Hall with the hope that one day they would be able to return and accepted members of society.

In England, they lived first in Binfield before leasing Loseley Park from 1896. In 1901, they tentatively returned to America, buying Montpelier in Virginia, the historic 18th century plantation home of the 4th President of the United States, James Madison.

Becoming Bellevue

From 1901, du Pont spent his working week at Wilmington, living at Woolton Hall before returning to Virginia on the weekends to join his wife - who was still very much frowned upon in Delaware. By the early 1910s, after twenty years, the ill-feeling that had existed towards the du Ponts had dissipated and they at last felt they could return permanently to Wilmington while Montpelier now became their summer and weekend home.

At about this time, du Pont acquired two adjacent properties at Wilmington, one of which had belonged to his ancestor's business partner, Pierre de Bauduy de Bellevue (1769-1833). In his honor, du Pont now renamed his home on the enlarged Woolton estate "Bellevue Hall". Aside from enlarging the house itself, over the next 20-years William set about growing the estate and building barns, stables, plus further outbuildings to accommodate his increasing passion for thoroughbred racehorses and fox-hunting. 

In the meantime, his son, William du Pont, Jr. (1896-1965), had married Jean Liseter Austin (1897-1988) and they lived together at Liseter Hall - an identical replica of Montpelier - which was a wedding present from Jean's father and the house that features in the movie Foxcatcher (2014). William and Jean shared the elder du Pont's passion for all things equine and it was William Jr. who built the famous Delaware Park track.

Becoming... Montpelier

The elder du Pont died in 1928 and while resident in Pennsylvania William, Jr. set about making his own improvements to Bellevue, adding tennis courts, a swimming pool, and indoor horse training facilities to the now 273-acre estate. But the biggest change he made was to the house itself. Over the next several years, he carefully remodelled the Gothic castle into the Neo-Classical Revival home seen today, becoming an almost identical copy of Montpelier (then home to his sister, Marion) and therefore of course Liseter Hall too.

Margaret Osborne du Pont

William Jr. and Jean were divorced in 1941. She remained at Liseter Hall while he now took up full-time residence at Bellevue. In 1947, he remarried Margaret Evelyn Osborne (1918-2012), the world's number one ranked player in women's tennis from 1947 to 1950. She practised on the indoor courts at Bellevue and after giving birth returned to tennis in 1952 to win a further 9-doubles championships at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

Bellevue State Park

After William Jr. died in 1965, his heirs expressed no interest in taking over Bellevue Hall. The estate had since grown to 328-acres and now encompassed several recreational facilities, horse-racing tracks, a steeplechase course, and a dressage training center. Even though he and Margaret had divorced in the year before he died, she continued to live at Bellevue with her partner, Margaret, up until 1976, when the estate was acquired by Delaware State Parks. It combined with several other properties to become "Bellevue State Park" and the house was opened to the public in 1977. It has since been renovated and today the elegant house and gardens have become a popular venue. 

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Contributed by Mark Meredith on 26/10/2018 and last updated on 04/02/2021.
Image Courtesy of Mike Mahaffie, CC, Flickr


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