Annual festival salutes du Pont mills' Irish workers


April 21, 1991|By Dorothy Fleetwood

The 12th annual Irish Workers' Festival will take place on Saturday at the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington. The event celebrates the contributions Irish workers made to the du Pont powder mills in the 19th century. The mills, along with the original du Pont estate and gardens, are situated on Hagley grounds.

One of the museum's popular events, the festival features a full schedule of entertainment. Most of the activities will take place on Blacksmith Hill, the restored mill workers' community, where you can hear a Celtic trio, an Irish folk musician and a singer of Irish ballads. Other performers include Irish stepdancers and the Delmar Pipe Band. For children there will be games, jugglers, clowns and puppet shows. Irish imports will be for sale, as well as traditional Irish ham and cabbage and other foods.

Visitors can tour the du Pont family home, Eleutherian Mills, its French garden and the first office of the Du Pont Company, where there will be a display of antique cars.

Admission is $8 for adults, $3 for ages 14 and under and $22 for families. In the event of heavy rains, the festival will be canceled.

From the intersections of routes 100 and 141 follow the signs to Buck Road East and use the museum's Soda House entrance. For information, call (302) 658-2400 between 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.


More house and garden tours are scheduled this week. Philadelphia Open House begins its 13th year on Friday and continues through May 13. It will take visitors into houses and gardens ranging from mansions and country estates to artists' lofts and urban town houses. All told there will be 35 individual tours in neighborhoods such as Society Hill, Germantown and Rittenhouse Square, into the famous suburbs of the Main Line and out to the surrounding countryside of Chester and Montgomery counties. Tourists will travel as far as Princeton, N.J., for a tour of the 18th century college town and the official residence of the governor of New Jersey. Another tour takes you to visit Independence Hall Tower, with a private tour of the room where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were written. There's also a Mother's Day cruise on the Delaware River on May 12 with a dockside reception at Penn's Landing.

Tours range in price from $12 to $45 with most in the $15 to $20 range. Some include fancy lunches, candlelight dinners, high teas and a box breakfast, while others simply offer light refreshment. The tours are coordinated by the Friends of Independence National Historical Park and reservations are required. Space is limited and many tours sell out quickly.

For a brochure or to reserve tickets write: Philadelphia Open House, 313 Walnut St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19106, or call (215) 928-1188.


Houses in historic Berkeley and Jefferson counties of West Virginia will be on view Saturday and next Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sponsored by the Shenandoah-Potomac Garden Council, this 36th annual self-guided tour visits eight homes in areas around the towns of Harpers Ferry, Charles Town, Martinsburg and Shepardstown.

Most are historic homes of the 18th and 19th centuries, such as Harewood, built in 1770, home of George Washington's brother Samuel, and owned today by a Washington descendant. It was here that the marriage of James Madison and Dolley Payne Todd took place in 1794. Dolley's sister, Lucy Payne Washington, was then mistress of Harewood.

The 12th Virginia Cavalry, a Civil War re-enactment group, will encamp on grounds at the Gen. Adam Stephen House and the adjoining Triple Brick Museum. These two museums are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Valhalla is the only contemporary house on the tour. It was built atop Bolivar Heights with a panoramic view of Harpers Ferry and the surrounding areas of Maryland and Virginia, and was selected as "the best built home in 1990" by the West Virginia Builders Association.

Tickets cost $10 for the complete tour, $3 for individual houses. Proceeds will be used for landscaping projects at public and historic sites in the area.

For information or a brochure, call (304) 876-6273 or (304) 267-7161.


The annual spring festival will be held next Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. at the Historic Houses of Odessa, Del., four properties owned and operated by Winterthur Museum.

Open-hearth cooking, blacksmithing and quilting are some of the traditional 18th and 19th century crafts that will be demonstrated. A juggler and a country bluegrass band will provide entertainment. Other activities are walking tours of Odessa, tours of the four properties, lectures, an antique car display, carriage rides and refreshments.

Admission is $6 for adults; $5 for senior citizens, students and Winterthur Guild members; free for children under 12.

Odessa is just off Route 13 midway between Dover and Wilmington. For information, call (302) 378-4069.


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