Montmorenci, In search of ….

In 2007, I gave a presentation on a historical house in Maryland.

This is Montmorenci as it is today. This property was part of other property purchased by John Worthington, Jr (1688-1763) in the Valley that bears his name. Worthington Valley. This property was willed to he son Samuel (1734-1815).

John Worthington, Jr, was the oldest son of “Capt” John Worthington (1650-1701), my ancestor. However, I am a descendant of the youngest son, Charles Worthington.

The presentation was not on the history of the house, but the story of those who lived in this house and their impact on the area. But that’s another story.

This house, from my research, was in the Worthington family until about 1918.

While there, I took this picture.

It was a cool picture for me, at that time, and not much more. However, when I got home, I did a little research for Montmorenci and discovered that there was a Montmorenci that was in Delaware and it wasn’t this one.

Fast forward to the summer of 2010, July 2nd to be exact, I answered a phone call: and blogged about that telephone call.

Our visit was documneted in this blog: During the visit to the Cheyney House:

I was introduced to that Delaware Montmorenci Staircase. The owner of the Cheyney house is a tourguide at Winterthur.

This past weekend we traveled to Winterthur to see “the other staircase”.

Some pictures of the Grounds

Some pictures of the Enchanted Forest

Some pictures of the Gardens (in the fall)

Although I grew up, not far from here, I do not remember visiting Winterthur.

We took one of the tours of this 7 story mansion, now museum, of the du Pont family to see the Montmorenci Stair.

As the story goes, the family was on a cruise and on their return that former marble staircase was replaced with a 360-degree turn staircase. This staircase was fashioned from an 1822 plantation home called “Montmorenci” built in Shoocco Springs, North Carolina. The original staircase, as was told by our tour guide, was not structurally sound to be uses, so Thomas Waterman redesigned the one-story staircase to two stories and widening the circular shape to an elliptical oval that now reaches to the ceiling or to the current 7th floor.

A return visit to see this Staircase, all decorated for the Christmas holidays are in the plans. The photos at Winterthur are awesome.

So now there are two questions.

1) What is behind the fact that there are two Montmorenci homes. One in Maryland and the other in North Carolina?

2) Why do both have these beautiful, might I add unique, staircases?

During a slide show orientation, there is a photo of the North Carolina Plantation. Not knowing it was coming and moving quickly, I need to find a photo of that house to compare to the one on this Blog. The other side of the house, not show here, may be similar to the one in North Carolina.

So, I am now “in search of” … the history of the Montmorenci Staircases.


25 Responses to Montmorenci, In search of ….

  1. christopher says:

    the family of the carolina montmorenci plantation were

    my cousins, and i believe i a have picture of the plantation

    buried somewhere in my achives. i’ll try to to find it for

    you, if you like, but i may need a little prompting !!

  2. Lisa says:

    Montmorenci Plantation was built by Gen. William “Pretty Boy” Williams in Shocco NC. Montmorenci was also known as a type of architecture. I am a decendant of his 1st or 2nd wife Elizabeth Faulcon Alston. He died in 1826 or so and all I have is family say so. But I have yet to find a flaw in the families oral history.

    • Lisa,

      I would like more information on YOUR Montmorenci, as there are at least two. I have seen the staircase from your Montmorenci. The second Montmorenci, is in Maryland, which I have been to, to see their Staircase. In Search of “why” there are two Monmorenci’s with free standing Staircases.

      Thank you,


      • Christopher says:

        re: Montmorenci in NC

        Hi, Russ – below is an excerpt for you. I’m still looking for a photo
        I had seen of exterior, like the one you saw in the slide show at Winterthur. I’m of the Alston family ::: Gen. Williams’ mother was an Alston, and two of his wives were Alstons. (irrelevance >> you and I look somewhat alike, so maybe WE’RE distant cousins !! ha-ha)

        The Treasure House of Early American Rooms book says “Montmorenci, a famous house built at Shocco Springs, near Warrenton, North Carolina, about 1822 by General William Williams” and puts the location of Montmorenci in Shocco Springs. Other references indicate it is located SW of Warrenton. The book goes on to say:

        “The graceful free-hanging staircase dominating the Montmorenci Stair Hall was formerly the outstanding feature of Montmorcnci, a famous house built at Shocco Springs, near Warrenton, North Carolina about 1822 by General William Williams.
        Lafayette, on his tour of the United States in 1824 to 1825, was entertained at Montmorenci, and here a later owner’s daughter, Lucy Williams, was married to the brother of President James Knox Polk. The staircase was probably made by a North Carolina craftsman, but whether it was designed by a professional architect is not known. It resembles the design for an “elliptical stairs” illustrated in Peter Nicholson’s The Carpenter’s New Guide, a builder’s handbook first published in London in 1792 and widely used in America during the first half of the nineteenth century. Robert Wellford, reflect the refined taste of the Federal period.

        • cubbytoo,

          Thank you for that information. Perhaps that description is why Mr DuPont went after and got that staircase and moved it to his Delaware. It has to be modified, but it is still awesome.

          Thank you,


  3. Keith Bullin says:

    I have photos of Montmorenci while it was still standing in N.C. taken by Waterman before Dupont had the house demolished to use its interiors in his museum. Included are the circular stairs in their original position in the back hall, exterior and interior shots. As to the multiple houses with the name montmorenci, the name is an old one and I believe it has french origins, I’d be glad to share the pics I have, the original stair built in a circle is much more beautiful that the reworked and expanded eliptical stair in DuPonts Winterthur Museum.

    • Keith,

      I’d like to see your photos. If you are willing to share them with me, please let me know.

      hrworth at gmail dot com

      Please indicate, if you are willing, to allow me to share them on this blog, and I will acknowledge where the photo(s) came from.

      Thank you,


  4. Keith Bullin says:

    And yes I am willing for you to share the photographs on the blog

  5. Ralph Yardley says:

    Hi Russ- My great great grandparents lived in Montmorenci for a few years after Civil War but were evicted.I have what I call “quaker letters” of what appear to be a small elderly couple in that huge house.The stair is never mentioned.just living hard workin’,simple life.Love your blog

    • Ralph,

      Sorry for the delay in responding, been a busy time this past couple of weeks.

      “Quaker Letters”, hmmm. Do you have any names or more details about this couple? And, to verify, you are talking about the Maryland “Montmorenci”, right?


  6. Ralph says:

    Hi Russ-I meant the North Carolina house.Long gone.It is just a short part of family history.The famous rebuilt stairs are at Wintertur.The letters were correspondance between family members.I called them “Quaker letters” because words like Thy and thee used

  7. Lois Woods says:

    If I may join in on your correspondence, William Williams is the nephew of one of my great +5 (or 6) Grandfathers. I would love to see the pictures of Montmorenci. I know that it is bold to ask, but, I certainly would appreciate it.
    Thank you.
    Lois Woods

  8. Christopher Lawrence says:

    Are you interested in images of Montmorenci in North Carolina or Maryland?
    — Christopher L.

  9. michael says:

    Hi, I live in Warrenton, NC in a home that has bronze valances that reportedly came from the NC Montmorenci home. I have been trying to figure out the connection for some time. I know that the original builder’s wife must have grown up in the 1880’s and that her first name is Lucy. I would love to see your photos of the NC Montmorenci home to see if the valences in my home are in fact from Montmorenci. Can you get back to me at

    • Russ Worthington says:


      I think that there a comments on my blog about Montmorenci, where someone posted some photos from the NC Montmorenci home. I don’t have any myself, but they are on my blog.

      If you can’t find them, I’ll see if I can relocate them.

      Thank you,


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