Travel Guide DE: Is Winterthur Worth It?

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In short, yes and no. Winterthur is the mansion home of Henry Francis DuPont, a wealthy horticulturist and antiques collector. Members of his family also owned Longwood Gardens. The Christmas tour of the mansion is something people rave about. It’s the same tour as usual; the house is just decorated. This was our first time here, and in a strange way, I felt both impressed and underwhelmed at the same time.

The mansion is beautiful. The collection of furniture, artwork, and all the decorating that took place is breathtaking. However, the tour itself was one that leaves me with conflict. I learned a lot, and the guide had an obvious knowledge of the history as well as an affection for Mr. DuPont. But the tour felt rushed from beginning to end. There were multiple going on at the same time, and given the layout, many instances two tours met in the doorways trying to get through to the next rooms.

It cost $22 a person and the tour lasted a little less than an hour. Some of the information was fascinating, while a good portion of it seemed more like filler to kill time. At the beginning, the guide asked if any of us were visiting for the first time. Only Will and myself were newcomers. After that, it seemed every five minutes there was a line something like, “Well, if you’ve never been here before…”. It was relentless. I almost felt singled out as the two idiots who were holding up the tour.

So, you have to make a decision. There are some serious pros and cons, another major of the latter being the tour only takes you on two floors: a portion of the basement and the first floor. We were told the mansion itself including the underground complex is eight stories. Look, I know some areas of every museum are off-limits. I know to give a tour of the entire place is not practical. I also know that this is their busy time of year and things may be moving a little faster. In the end, this seemed more like a factory churning people in and out at $22 a pop so fast your head would spin—a cattle pen. There are some wonderful attributes and the staff have done a marvelous job at preservation. I’ll give them that. But we both left feeling ripped off, and I can say with certainty that I will never go back again.

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