So complete was its twentieth-century remodeling, one would never guess that this was once Delaware's most flamboyant Gothic Revival house, with castellated towers and curving verandas of interlacing trusswork. Philadelphia wool merchant Hanson Robinson built the mansion as a summer retreat, naming it Woolton Hall. William du Pont purchased it in 1893 and trained fine carriage and draft horses on the property. Eight years later, he bought Montpelier, home of President Madison in Virginia, to breed trotting horses. His son, William Jr., grew up at Montpelier but returned as an adult to Bellevue, reconstructing it in the 1930s as a Montpelier copy, with the familiar stuccoed walls and big four-column Doric portico of that national shrine. Here he founded a famous racing stable (with gigantic racetrack), and by the time of his death in 1965, he had trained thoroughbreds that won more than 1,200 races. Du Pont's wealth was legendary—he paid $4 million in income tax in 1960. The state bought the 273-acre Bellevue estate in 1976 and opened it to the public as a park.
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