A Family Fractured, 1907-1915

Small fissures in the cousins’ partnership began to form. Alfred felt his contribution to the company’s successes had not been fully appreciated by Pierre and Coleman. Meanwhile, Alfred’s personal life caused serious consternation among the duPont clan. After divorcing his first wife, Bessie Gardner, mother of his four children, he shocked the duPont family when he married second cousin Alicia Bradford, a divorcee with one child, in 1907. A divorce was frowned upon by the duPont family, but marrying a cousin whose husband worked for the DuPont Company was considered an intolerable act.

Undeterred, Alfred gave Alicia a most spectacular gift—a new home built on 300 acres in Wilmington. The 47,000-square-foot mansion was designed in classic French style, based on Marie Antoinette’s petite Trianon, by New York architects Carrère and Hastings. Their renowned firm had been responsible for the edifices of the New York Public Library and the Senate Office Building. Alfred named the estate Nemours, after the French town his great-great-grandfather, Pierre Samuel duPont, represented in the court of Louis XVI. Alfred’s relationship with cousins Pierre and Coleman continued to deteriorate. In 1915, Coleman’s sale of a block of his stock to a group of company officers and directors irked Alfred, who, contending the stock should be bought back by the company, sued. When the courts finally upheld the sale two years later, Alfred resigned from the family company he had helped rescue 15 years earlier.