INN THE NEWS
The Brandywine Valley : Culture, Castles & Krazy Kats
by Andrea Poe, Special to Donne's World
April 2, 2010
The Brandywine Valley, named for the river that stitches through a landscape of gently rolling farm fields and thickets of woodlands that straddles Pennsylvania and Delaware, is one of the most picture-perfect parts of America.
Gardens & Mansions: the du Pont Legacy
Among the Brandywine Valley's greatest claims to fame is Longwood Gardens. With more than 1,000 acres of garden outdoors and 20 indoor gardens, this former du Pont estate is the gold standard for botanical excellence. Especially unique features are the indoor Children's Garden, a magical space that sprouts water features, secret grottos and hidden nooks and the Main Fountain Garden with 380 fountains, some rising to 130 feet in the air.
5 Cozy Winter Inns Near Washington
By Joe Sugarman
These inns have excellent restaurants and amenities such as fireplaces and spas. Once you check in, you'll never have to leave.
When you stay at the Inn at Montchanin Village in Wilmington, Delaware, you don't just get a room; you get a small town. Montchanin Village, in the Brandywine Valley, is made up of 11 restored buildings dating from 1799 to 1910; most once housed workers at the nearby DuPont gunpowder mill (now the Hagley Museum and Library). Today the old homes accommodate 28 luxe rooms and suites, many with soaking tubs and gas fireplaces.
Inn At Montchanin Village, Montchanin DE
by Malerie Yolen-Cohen
June 13, 2014
Once housing the laborers who worked at the Hagley Powder Mills nearby, you can't help but feel a sense of irony as you meander down "Privy Lane" - original latrines line the street where upscale guest cottages now stand. I'd wager the only luxury inn in America that features outhouses as a design element, The Inn at Montchanin Village maintains its historic value while providing seasoned travelers with the highest degree of service, amenities - and whimsy. It took owners Dan and Missy Lickle five years to renovate this charming hamlet, just a few minutes from downtown Wilmington DE, into 28 rooms and suites. Fond of cows and crows, the Lickles created a humorous cow/crow logo and stamped it on everything from signs to soap before opening the Inn at Montchanin Village in 1996.
Taking It Slow in the Brandywine Valley
My Little Bird
HOW QUICKLY CAN YOU LEAVE the 21st century? Two hours north on Interstate-95 and a right at Exit 7 and you've entered a time warp. There's no CVS, no Walmart, no crowds, and the newest buildings date to, oh, 1935.
Decompression comes swiftly in Delaware's Brandywine Valley, where carriage paths have been paved for cars but not much else has changed in a century. Stone mansions jostle stone cottages, all tucked behind rose-tumbled stone walls.
In its midst, the Inn at Montchanin Village is perfectly situated for exploring the du Ponts' Winterthur museum and gardens (including an exhibit of costumes from the "Downton Abbey" TV series paired with like garments from the du Pont collection), the Wyeth collection at the Brandywine Museum, and Longworth Gardens, whose conservatory make Washington's look like a terrarium.
Seven Ways to "Meet" the DuPonts in Wilmington DE
HUFF POST Travel
Wilmington DE is a DuPont town. E.I DuPont, founder of what became DuPont Chemical Company, established his business here after fleeing the French Revolution in 1801 with his father, Pierre who, in service to the Court of King Louis XVI faced certain beheading. And while there are now 4,000 DuPont descendents scattered around the world, the family has deep roots (many with deep pockets) in this Delaware city.
A visit here lets you in on the fascinating history and present of the DuPonts through their homes, museums, restaurants and hotels. For a full guide of the most fascinating places to see, and best restaurants and hotels in the Wilmington area, check GetawayMavens.com.
36 Hours in the Brandywine Valley
By Geraldine Fabrikant
New York Times
The physician and poet Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. traveled through the gently rolling hills of the Brandywine Valley in southeastern Pennsylvania during the Civil War when he came there to search for his son, who he feared had been killed in battle. It was a grim mission - and luckily, his son survived - but the land made a strong impression. "The grazing pastures were so green ... the houses were so comfortable, the barns so ample, the fences so well kept, that I did not wonder, when I was told that this region was called the England of Pennsylvania," Mr. Holmes wrote at the time.
Today swaths of the Brandywine, just a couple of hours from Manhattan and close to Philadelphia, seem little changed from that era. Its 350 square miles, including rolling hills, manicured estates and the sparkling Brandywine River, offer visitors a seductive trip through history. Here George Washington and his Continental Army faced British General William Howe in the Sept. 11, 1777, Battle of the Brandywine - a key battle of the war and a stinging defeat for the Americans.
BY SHARON HERNES SILVERMAN
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOHN MARTIN LEWIS
Anyone lucky enough to fall under the spell of Brigadoon, the fictional town in the Lerner and Loewe musical that reawakens for one day every hundred years, enters a long-ago world of beauty and fantasy. Montchanin Village is reminiscent of that magical place.
The restored settlement at Montchaninn Village is real, not mythical, but otherwise it's as magical as its invented counterpart. The Inn at Montchanin Village, a Small Luxury Hotels of the World property, offers charming, luxurious accommodations in a countryside setting, where the buildings, pathways and cottage gardens create a harmonious whole.
The settlement at the crossroads six miles north of Wilmington was built in 1799 to house laborers from the nearby DuPont gunpowder mills, and later became part of Henry Francis du Pont's Winterthur estate. By 1859, the site had tenant houses, a blacksmith shop and a school. The village's importance increased when the railroad came through. In J 889, a railroad station and a post office were established. This was also the year the village was named in honor of Anne Alexandrine de Montchanin, grandmother of DuPont company founder Eleuthere du Pont.
By the 1950s, the structures were being rented out. Things remained pretty much stagnant for the next 40 years, until Missy and Dan Lickle took over the property and decide to convert it to a country inn. Like many who enter the inn keeping business, the couple thought it would take just a few months to spruce things up for guests. Five years later, the Lickles opened the Inn at Montchanin Village and Krazy Kat's Restaurant.
It was worth the wait. The painstaking restoration and renovation are evident, as is the Lickle's creativity in adapting the existing structures for new uses. The Inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a member of the Historic Hotels of America and is a Mobil Travel Guide four-star inn.
The Inn at Montchanin Village has 28 rooms and suites in several buildings around the property. A visit begins in the Dilwyne Barn, an 1850 structure that now houses the reception area. Within seconds, you'll understand exactly what makes this place so special. A meticulous restoration has maintained historical integrity, evident in the vaulted ceiling held up by thick wooden beams. The decorating is luxurious and creative: Animal print fabrics are as likely to turn up as florals and plaids. A huge balance scale is weighed down with Hershey's kissed for guests who want a sweet treat. And the Inn has something that's all too rare at top-notch hotels; a sense of humor that starts with its cow and crow logo.
The barn also houses the gathering room, where guests are welcome to read, play games, have something to drink or cozy up near the fireplace. The furniture arrangement creates conversation pockets so the large space doesn't feel cavernous.
There's nothing cookie-cutter about the guest rooms. Each has its own character; no two floor plans or decorating schemes are identical. Antique and reproduction furniture, sumptuous fabrics and interesting accessories vary from room to room. One room has a massive mahogany bed; another boasts a whimsical bed with painted animals.
All accommodations come with exceptional service and amenities. No matter what the size, each room has extra seating, Frette linens, Pontmeirion china, a coffee maker, refrigerator, microwave and lots of books to read. There's even an umbrella by each door in case of inclement weather. Twice-a-day housekeeping keeps everything immaculate.
The bathrooms are all different, too, with unique colors and styles of marble and stone. All bathrooms are marvelously equipped, some with a soaking tub and separate shower, others with shower only. From the signature line of toiletries to the heated towel bar to the fresh-cut flowers, luxury is the norm. There's also a scale in every bathroom, but nobody will force you to use it if you don't want to.
And you might not want to, after a meal at Krazy Kat's Restaurant, a hot spot for locals and visitors. Behind the huge wooden door of the renovated blacksmith's shop is charming eclectic decor-think portraits of dogs and cats in military uniforms-with substance to go with the style. The menu changes quarterly and features dishes like Muscovy duck or salmon with risotto, complemented by herbs from the property's own garden.
You can work off those extra calories at the fitness center. Or you can take a delightful stroll around the grounds. The structures along Privy Lane are no longer used for their original purpose, but are now resplendent with flowers and ivy. The Inn at Montchanin Village has a full-time horticulturist and its own off-site greenhouses, so it's no surprise that the landscaping is exquisite. Plantings help define spaces and create private garden nooks for guests to enjoy. The scent of the flowers is heavenly in spring and summer. As you linger near the picturesque stone structures along the cobblestone pedestrian path, you may be reminded of the lyrics from Brigadool1: "Where my heart forever lies."
The Inn at Montchanin Village Route 100 and Kirk Road Montchanin, Delaware (302) 888-2133 www.slh.com/montchanin
WILMINGTON ON THE TOWN
Situated midway between New York and Washington, DC, Wilmington is the gateway to the Brandywine Valley where picturesque estates and villages dot rolling hills. Major corporations, including DuPont, have their headquarters in the city. There's a burgeoning restaurant scene, restored riverfront area and an extensive calendar of cultural happenings-from jazz to ballet to independent film screenings.
WHAT TO DO: Winterthur, (800) 448-3883, less than two miles west of the Inn at Montchanin Village, has the country's top collection of American decorative arts, Hagley Museum and Library, (302) 658-2400, located along the Brandywine River at the site of the original black powder works, tells the story of life and industry in the 19th century, Nemours Mansion and Gardens, (800) 651-6912, gives tours of the 47,000-square-foot Louis XIV chateau set on 300 acres, A canoe trip along the Brandywine, (800) 494-CANOE, affords a leisurely look at the scenery that has inspired many artists, including three generations of Wyeths.
SHOPPING: Specialty shops and boutiques are located in Greenville, Delaware. Heading north from the town, antique shops line both sides of Route 52 through Centerville, Delaware, and north into Fairville and Mendenhall, Pennsylvania. The Trolley Square neighborhood in Wilmington is home to several art galleries; others are located near Hagley Museum in Breck's Mill. The Shops of Hockessin Corner, including Everything but the Kitchen Sink, (302) 239-7066, showcase unique items for the home, A bonus: There is no sales tax in Delaware.
FINE DINING: On site at the Inn, Krazy Kat's Restaurant has some of Delaware's best cuisine. Mikimotos Restaurant/Asian Grill and Sushi Bar, (302) 656-TOFU, has exciting food and decor. Eclipse, (302) 658-1588, is known for fresh fish served in a Manhattan-esque setting. In Hockessin Corner, The Back Burner Restaurant, (302) 2392314, specializes in steak, seafood and a local favorite, pumpkin mushroom soup.
DON'T MISS: Longwood Gardens, (610) 388-1000, in nearby Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, has more than 1,000 acres of plants, including four acres in a glass conservatory. The chrysanthemum festival in autumn and "Christmas at Longwood" from Thanksgiving until after New Year's are enchanting. The McDonald's LPGA Championship comes to Wilmington's DuPont Country Club in June, A stellar pre-Raphaelite collection is displayed at the Delaware Art Museum, (302) 571-9590; for Wyeths, visit the Brandywine River Museum, (610) 388-2700, in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.