Preservation Magazine, Spring 2021

A Peek Inside the New Restaurant at a Historic Delaware Hotel

When the Hotel Du Pont opened in 1913, the 12-story Italian Renaissance–style building in Wilmington, Delaware, garnered instant acclaim. For decades, the hotel’s opulent Green Room restaurant was Wilmington’s place to see and be seen over multi-hour power lunches or at holiday gatherings.

After more than 100 years in operation, however, the Green Room was due not only for a new look but a new sensibility—one that respected the generations of diners who frequented it over the years, while also attracting a younger crowd.

The task was not one Lance Saunders, design director for Stokes Architecture + Design, took lightly. “From the first time I visited The Green Room [I] could feel the elegance the du Ponts wanted people to feel in 1913,” says Saunders. “We wanted people to feel the same elegance, but to make it more accessible and up to speed with the way people dine today.”

The result is Le Cavalier at The Green Room, a French brasserie that opened in September of 2020. Restored historic elements such as fumed oak paneling, ornate plaster ceilings, and gilded chandeliers remain at center stage. The team added contemporary touches like a new bar; custom stained-glass window screens; and velvet, amber-hued banquettes.

Le Cavalier, Hotel Du Pont

photo by: Le Cavalier

The original flooring, chandeliers, ceiling, and paneling of the Hotel Du Pont's redesigned restaurant, now called Le Cavalier at The Green Room, have been restored.

Arguably the most notable change was a surprise discovery. Saunders was shocked to find the original mosaic marble-and-terrazzo floor beautifully intact beneath wall-to-wall carpeting. “We took a gamble on the condition of the floor but knew it could potentially be something spectacular,” he says. “It was the real win for the space.”

The Hotel Du Pont is a member of Historic Hotels of America, a program of the National Trust.

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By: Shayla Martin

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