Last night, a friend and I went on a twilight tour of the 1803 Eleutherian Mills, the duPont mansion on the Brandywine River above the old powder works. It was decorated for the holidays as it might have been when Louise duPont Crowninshield and her husband, Frank lived in the 1920's and 30's.
Having grown up in what is now Winterthur Museum, this gal knew her stuff when it came to architecture and antiques. The house tour included the morning room, set up for cookies and tea, surrounded by train related items beloved by the master of the house, including a steam engine shaped tea caddy.
The dining room was ready for a fancy dinner with the best china (including a plate on the floor for the family dog) and scenic wallpaper of American scenes painted by an artist who had never been here. We went through the butler's pantry and downstairs to the kitchen. Food was sent up to the dining room on a lift in the wall.
Down on the lowest level, Louise turned a room into a "Colonial kitchen," appropriate for visiting children to leave toys and sleds all over the floor (she never had children).
We ended our tour in the barn, the site of a gingerbread competition. Unfortunately, it had been there since the holidays began, and some of the houses were losing their chimneys and walls. It was an unheated building, so the poor guide had to keep moving to stay warm. He said the wooden construction on an easel was a menorah (never would have guessed!)