Bellevue State Park
Overlooking the Delaware River, the lush grounds of Bellevue State Park are hidden in the middle of suburban Wilmington. The park itself is a former Du Pont family estate, and the grounds include a horse track, meadows, ponds, and the stately Bellevue Hall, creating the perfect atmosphere for a relaxing jaunt.
The 328-acre park was largely built by William du Pont Jr., a prominent American businessman, and his father, William du Pont Sr. Du Pont Sr. had quite a few buildings constructed on the land after he bought the property in 1893, but it was du Pont Jr. who created the namesake Bellevue Hall. Bellevue Hall was originally a mid-19th century building named Woolton Hall, but du Pont Jr. remodeled it into a replica of Montpelier, former president James Madison’s residence. Du Pont Jr. was an avid Thoroughbred horse racer; he was also married to equestrian Jean Liseter Austin from 1919 to 1941, a period in which he expanded the horse facilities at Bellevue to include indoor and outdoor tracks.
After du Pont’s death, the state of Delaware purchased Bellevue Hall and its grounds to serve as a public park. The grounds are also home to the Mount Pleasant Methodist Episcopal Church and Parsonage, an 1838 building that has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Percheron Barn is another building of note within the park—originally essential to the sustenance of the estate, it is now surrounded by community gardens. The state of Delaware also built a paved walkway, the Northern Greenway Trail, for guests to stroll through the park’s meadows and woods.
The 1 ⅛ mile long equestrian track on the property is now paved for exercise, featuring over 20 exercise stations. A catch-and-release fishing pond stocked with bass, sunfish, and catfish is set in the center of the track. The equestrian past of Bellevue lives on as well: the grounds are also home to Wellspring Farm, a horse training facility with indoor and outdoor capabilities that offers riding lessons and therapeutic riding.
Other features of Bellevue State Park include du Pont’s arboretum, which is stocked with trees from around the world, the Bellevue Woods Nature Preserve, an example of a piedmont forested stream corridor, and Bellevue Tennis Center, which features eight clay courts.
The park also hosts periodic events, such as hayrides in the fall and sledding in the winter. Park rangers also organize a program called Park after Dark, which explores the fauna that are out and about in the park at night. There is also a free Summer Concerts series held in the park’s bandshell. Performances are held on Sunday and Thursday evenings by local bands, which include The Launch Band, The Newspaper Taxis, the Malarkey Brothers, and many more.
Bellevue Hall and its neighboring arboretum are open to visitors for scheduled tours. The rest of the park is open daily from 8am to sunset. Entrance fees are $4 for in-state visitors and $8 for out-of-state visitors. Visitors to Wilmington will love Bellevue State Park for its community energy, miles of trails, and beautiful Delaware scenery.
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