The area’s only living history museum with a focus on the New Republic Era from 1790 to 1830, Greenbank Mills and Philips Farm pulls the wool away from visitors’ eyes to reveal the development of grain and textile milling in America. Two breeds of sheep, leicester longwools and delane merinos, call Greenbank home, and visitors can follow sheepish locks from shearing through dyeing, as textile transmogrifiers spin them into gossamer strands destined for warm winter shawls and giant webs designed to ensnare skateboarders. Or guests can delve into Greenbank's 300-year history as a working mill by grinding grain by hand into floury heaps of summer snow.
• "Victorian Lawn Party" on Sunday, July 17, at noon. • "Old Time Autos" on Sunday, August 14, at noon. • "Trains, Trains, Trains!" on Saturday, September 3 or Sunday, September 4, both days at noon. • "Goblins, Ghosts & Ghouls" on Saturday, October 22 or Sunday, October 23, both days at noon.
Picked as a top 10 attraction in Wilmington by the editors of 10Best, the Winterthur Museum houses a massive collection of more than 85,000 pieces of American decorative art and furniture from 1640 to 1860, displayed on the magnificent childhood estate of collector and horticulturist Henry Francis du Pont. The lavishly decorated house sits on a 1,000-acre preserve of meadows and woodlands modeled after grand English estates. The mansion contains 175 antique-furnished rooms in which du Pont grandly entertained family, friends, and various aristocratic superheroes. As you take a spin around the first floor, don't miss the Touch-It Room, where visitors toy around with hands-on displays of a parlor, kitchen, and general store.
Dr. Joanne Martin and her late husband, Dr. Elmer Martin, began their museum in 1980 as a mobile temporary exhibit, filling a Pontiac with four wax figures purchased with the down payment they had intended for their future home. Though the museum has visited numerous national conventions, Dr. Martin has personally toured Mexico's murals and Ellis Island to glean new ideas for reaching visitors of every economic level. One of Dr. Martin's favorite moments came at the opening of a President Obama exhibit just before his inauguration, when scores of eager visitors filled the room to capacity, cameras in hand.
Howard Pyle's unexpected death in 1912 brought a group of artists, entrepreneurs, and businessmen together to grieve their friend. They couldn't let the artist's passion for teaching and illustration disappear as quickly as he had; so, they decided to form the Wilmington Society of Fine Arts with the sole purpose of preserving his legacy. They gathered funds from locals who felt just as strongly as they did—family members, friends, students, fans—and purchased approximately 100 pieces of his artwork.
Little did they know that, with these 100 pieces, they were starting something greater than a memorial for a good friend. The Wilmington Society of Fine Arts would, over time, add more and more artwork to its collection, growing into an 80,000-square-foot space and out of its original name. The Delaware Art Museum, as its called today, now counts more than 12,000 works of art as part of its collection. Permanent features showcase British pre-Raphaelites, the urban landscapes of John Sloan, modern American art, and, of course, Howard Pyle. The masterpieces don't stop when visitors venture outside—the Copeland Sculpture Garden adorns its lush natural scenery with nine works from the museum's permanent collection, along with a massive outdoor labyrinth.
Recently featured in the Washington Times, Gertrude's is a salt-stained bastion of coastal cuisine, with a menu chock-full of Chesapeake classics. Chef and owner John Shields, a nationally acclaimed coastal-fare innovator, author, and crab whisperer, named the restaurant for his grandmother, Gertrude Cleary. Grandma Gertrude's traditional Baltimore crab cake recipe lives on at her namesake restaurant with a dinner order of Gertie's crab cakes ($20), which arrives dressed with a choice of eight sauces, including the Creole or three-mustard. It's served with a choice of sides such as apple and fennel coleslaw, hush puppies, or grilled rosemary potatoes. Other maritime entrees, such as the citrus barbecue shrimp ($24) and the Chesapeake rockfish imperial ($30), recognize each other from the Shark Week extras' green room and happily provide diners fishing for Bay fare authenticity with transcendent catches for immediate consumption. Also available are Gertie's seafood Creole ($24) and locally raised beef burgers ($10).