Longwood Gardens and The Conservation Fund have entered into a binding agreement with Granogue Reserve, LTD., LLC (GRLLC) for Longwood to acquire and operate Granogue, the 505-acre estate and long-time residence of the late Mr. and Mrs. Irénée du Pont, Jr. located in New Castle County, Delaware. The agreement is based on a plan that was worked on jointly between Longwood Gardens, The Conservation Fund, and GRLLC over several years and includes all land and buildings, to be carried out at a future date.
The 505-acre Granogue property in northern Delaware sits in a critical location for the ongoing conservation in the regional landscape. It is one of the last remaining pieces of unprotected open space in the Brandywine River Corridor with large sections of farmland, forest, pasture, and meadow.
“Longwood Gardens is honored to play a part in the preservation of Granogue,” said Paul B. Redman, President and CEO of Longwood Gardens. “We understand the important role this iconic landscape plays in our region’s ecology, community, and quality of life, and we look forward to working with our partners to ensure this treasure is stewarded for future generations to enjoy.”
Although perhaps best known as one of the world’s great gardens and for its horticultural education programs that date back more than 60 years, conservation is at the heart of Longwood. “Our Gardens began with Pierre S. du Pont’s act of preservation to save a 202-acre arboretum that was important to the region and community,” Redman said. “Today, we are honoring the legacy of Longwood through an act of conservation to protect another landscape and add another open space that is important to our region and community.”
“Preserving this beautiful land is important to our family,” said Grace Engbring, daughter of Irénée “Brip” and Barbara “Barbie” du Pont, Jr., and family representative for GRLLC, the legal entity that owns the property. “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,” she said. “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.”
GRLLC began discussions in 2016 with Longwood Gardens and The Conservation Fund about the 1923 estate’s future. A preliminary study assessing current site conditions and encompassing site master planning was developed in 2018-2019, with a commitment for Granogue to remain a pastoral cultural landscape.
The Conservation Fund, which works to protect the most critical lands and waterways in the United States to provide greater access to nature, strengthen local economies, and enhance climate resiliency, has protected 8.5 million acres of land across all 50 states since 1985. “We are proud to play a role in preserving this ecologically vital parcel of the Brandywine River Corridor and ensuring it remains a pastoral jewel for the Brandywine Valley region to enjoy,” said Blaine T. Phillips, Senior Vice President of The Conservation Fund.
Continuing a long legacy of philanthropic leadership, du Pont family members, and related cultural institutions have joined the effort to advance the collective vision for Granogue. While Longwood Gardens will own and operate Granogue, Mt. Cuba Center and the Longwood Foundation have provided generous support to help fund the acquisition. In addition, du Pont family members have generously contributed funds to establish a permanent endowment for future operations and advancement of the vision for Granogue.
Ann C. Rose, President of the Mt. Cuba Center Board of Managers and Thère du Pont, President of the Longwood Foundation, both expressed their support for the conservation effort and its alignment with their respective organizations’ missions, noting it will not only elevate Mt. Cuba Center’s ongoing efforts to maintain a healthy ecosystem for the region, but also benefit the cultural fabric and quality of life for area residents, which is core to the work of the Longwood Foundation.