Long before the Field of Dreams expression “If you build it, they will come” became part of pop culture, the DuPont Company put the phrase into practice with Hotel du Pont.
It was 1911, and Wilmington, Delaware, was becoming a business hub, thanks in large part to DuPont. Yet a hotel hadn’t been built since 1873. Business travelers were often consigned to colleagues’ homes or Philadelphia hotels.
That changed when the company opened Hotel du Pont on January 15, 1913. It combined hospitality with entertainment, lodging with luxury and, of course, form with function. Made of white stone, the Italian Renaissance-style structure links to DuPont offices and sits in the heart of the downtown business district. During opening week, more than 25,000 people toured the facilities.
A century later, the property is so well known in Delaware that most simply call it “the Hotel.” More than a landmark, it remains a multifaceted destination. People come here to dine in the Green Room, watch Broadway shows in the DuPont Theatre and celebrate weddings in the lavish Gold Ballroom. The luxury hotel has attracted numerous VIP guests, including Charles Lindbergh, Ingrid Bergman, Prince Rainier of Monaco, Joe DiMaggio, John F. Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, Katharine Hepburn, Bruce Willis, Reese Witherspoon and Denzel Washington.
Still owned by DuPont, the hotel hasn’t lost its chops. Just 25 minutes from Philadelphia and its international airport, it remains popular among business travelers. Due to its downtown location, surrounded by offices, it’s not as favored by leisure travelers, especially on weekends when this area rolls up its sidewalks. Unless, that is, you’re looking to stay in a posh property and you have a car to explore the Brandywine Valley.