Skip to main content

Hotel du Pont historical files

1912-2011
 Collection
Accession: 2597

Abstract

Hotel du Pont is a historic hotel located in Wilmington, Delaware that opened in 1913. The Hotel du Pont Company was organized on July 2, 1912, for the purpose of operating a hotel within the Du Pont Building in downtown Wilmington. The Hotel du Pont historical files were collected to assist in the preparation of an Arcadia book by Joanna L. Arat, which was issued to mark the 100th anniversary of the hotel, and include administrative records, marketing and sales information, food services and material related to other special events.

Dates

  • 1912-2011

Creator

Extent

5.5 Linear Feet

Historical Note

Hotel du Pont is a historic hotel located in Wilmington, Delaware that opened in 1913. The Hotel du Pont Company was organized on July 2, 1912, for the purpose of operating a hotel within the Du Pont Building in downtown Wilmington. Pierre S. du Pont (1870-1954), one of the architects of the reorganized DuPont Company, was president, and his chief financial assistant, John J. Raskob (1879-1950), was secretary-treasurer.

Prior to the completion of its new headquarters in 1907, E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company had been run from offices in the Brandywine Works, about five miles west of the city. Since its reorganization in 1902, the company was growing rapidly and had begun to diversify away from its black powder heritage. Most of the other firms based in Wilmington had failed to make such a transition, and either remained small or became branch plants of new industrial combinations with plant managers as their highest local representative. As a result, the city was characterized by office buildings and civic amenities of an outdated, nineteenth century type. Thus in building a headquarters for a large modern corporation, DuPont was also obligated to provide the latest in high-class accommodations, dining and entertainment both for its own executives and those who would visit the city to do business with them.

The Hotel du Pont opened its doors to guests on January 15, 1913 with 150 guests rooms. The Hotel Company leased a section of the combined structure from the Du Pont Building Corporation. A separate subsidiary of the Building Corporation, The Play House Company, built and operated a 1300-seat theater within the same structure. Both P.S. du Pont and John J. Raskob maintained suites at the hotel and other du Pont family members resided there for various periods of time. The hotel's ballrooms and restaurants were the scene of many company and family functions. Notable features were the Gold Ballroom, added in 1918, the Green Room, and the Brandywine Room of 1941. In an effort to enhance its attractiveness. the Hotel du Pont sought out paintings of artistic merit. The majority were done by local artists or reflect local subject matter and include hundreds of original paintings by well known artists such as members of the the Wyeth family.

On January 1, 1927, an agreement was made with the Bowman-Biltmore Hotels Corporation to operate the Hotel du Pont and the name was changed to Hotel du Pont-Biltmore. This agreement was cancelled In June 1933 and the operation was reverted to the Hotel du Pont Company and the name was returned to Hotel du Pont. On June 30, 1934, The Hotel du Pont Company was dissolved, and its assets and liabilities were sold to the Du Pont Building Corporation. The Du Pont Building Corporation was dissolved in turn on September 30, 1936, and its assets transferred to E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company. Since then, the hotel has been operated by managerial units of the DuPont Company: the Office Buildings Division (1936-1948), Office Buildings Department (1948-1953), General Services Department (1954-1971), Central Systems and Services Department (1971-1972), and General Services Department (1973-).

In 1955 the DuPont Company examined the future of the Hotel du Pont. Should the Hotel continue, be sold or closed? The company's Executive Committe authorized a study which concluded: that a first-class hotel was needed; other hotel chains were not interested in the Wilmington market; and food services were needed, not only for hotel guests, but also for company employees. As a result, a decision was made to modernize the Hotel and bring it up to date. Today the Hotel continues to serve the business, civic and social needs of the community.

Arrangement

Series are arranged in alphabetical order. The news articles are filed in chronological order. Menus are filed in approximate chronological order using dates, if shown, or meal prices, with the lowest prices as an indication of the earliest menus.

Scope and Content

The Hotel du Pont historical files were collected to assist in the preparation of an Arcadia book by Joanna L. Arat, which was issued to mark the 100th anniversary of the hotel.

Series I. Hotel historical material includes valuable information about the history of the Hotel, its art collection, special events hosted by the Hotel, profiles of the General Managers and staff, and details of its interior and contents. There is also a 1978 history of the General Services Department and predecessors, which were responsible for the office buildings and other functions beyond running the hotel.

Series II. Administrative records includes ads placed in local organizations' event handouts, records of ad requests rejected, and the 1955-56 DuPont Company study on the future of the hotel. The General Cash Books list daily expenses by category, such as food, salary, and stores. The gift certificate donation forms detail meal gift cards donated to organizations hosting fund- raising events. The Hotel du Pont newsletter file contains random issues of the Hotel's newsletter and The Bridge - General Services Department. The General Hotel Administrative Matters folder contains samples of printed forms and stationary.

This series includes a folder, labeled General historical information, of items found in the hotel collection. It contains info on: the First Worlds Tour - The Graf Zeppelin 1929; early brochure titled Greetings from Wilmington, Del.; an article, Miss Mary Vining, Of Delaware, Most Brilliant Belle of Colonial Days dated August 18, 1928; The Delaware Memorial Bridge, A Construction View 1945-1951; and brochures from four hotels in the U.S.

Series III. Marketing and sales includes news articles from 1913 to 2008 about hotel activities and personnel. The articles are arranged in chronological order with the oldest dates in the front of the folder. Series IV. Food service - menus cover meals served throughout the day, at the various restaurants or special food services. The menu dates range from 1925 to 1990. The menus within folders are sorted in chronological order, if dated or by meal prices, starting with the earliest menus. Where possible menus are sorted by the restaurant in which the meals were served, i.e. the Green Room.

Series V. Food services - special events material includes invitations, menus, and information on special celebrations for organizations and individuals at the hotel. Promotional material highlights the Hotel's celebrity chefs series of events in 1991. International Days include Japan, Sweden and Spanish Week activities, guests and meal information. Spanish Week contains a press kit covering events co-hosted with the Palace Hotel of Madrid, Spain the last week of Sept. 1988. Celebration Culinaire de la France celebrates 200 years of French independence with French cuisine, July 14, 1989.

The Japanese Language Training Program was a first of its kind for hotels, to teach personnel basic Japanese dialogue to welcome guests and give them simple directions.

Access Restrictions

No restrictions on access; this collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may apply.

Related Materials

Hotel du Pont records (Accession 2332), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Hotel du Pont miscellany (Accession 2680), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Hotel du Pont photographs and videos (Accession 2013.269), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.


Additional Information

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
Hotel du Pont historical files
Status:
Author:
Rainer Naus
Date:
2014
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Contact:
PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA
302-658-2400