Nemours Mansion & Gardens

Alfred and Jessie One year after the sudden death of his second wife, Alicia, Alfred…


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Alfred and Jessie
One year after the sudden death of his second wife, Alicia, Alfred married Jessie Dew Ball in a quiet ceremony. Jessie, 20 years his junior, had been a teenager when Alfred had first become acquainted with the Ball family more than two decades earlier. He and the Balls remained close over the years, and Alfred and Jessie corresponded sporadically. The Balls had moved to California, but in 1920 Jessie, now in her mid-30’s, returned East for an extended period and her relationship with Alfred grew stronger.

After their marriage, Alfred and Jessie traveled to Florida several times and in 1925 decided to settle in Jacksonville. They built a mansion, Epping Forest, and Alfred became involved in a number of successful enterprises. His goal was more than making money; he was also deeply committed to helping Florida and its residents establish sound financial institutions and a modern industrial base.

The Mansion
Alfred married Alicia, his second wife, in 1907 and loved showering her with gifts. By far the grandest of these was the spectacular new house that he built for her on a 3,000-acre plot of land in Wilmington. He hired Carrere and Hastings, a prestigious New York architectural firm, to design the mansion in the late-18th-century French style that Alicia adored. Alfred named the estate Nemours, after the French town that his great-great-grandfather represented in the French Estates General. While looking to the past and his ancestors for inspiration, Alfred also ensured that his new home was thoroughly modern by incorporating the latest technology and many of his own inventions.

The Gardens – Long Walk
The two elk at the top of the Vista are the work of French sculptor Prosper Lecourtier (1855–1924), a specialist in animal figures. Lined with Japanesecryptomeria, pink flowering horse chestnuts and pin oaks, the Long Walk extends from the Mansion to the Reflecting Pool.

The 157 jets at the center of the one-acre pool shoot water 12 feet into the air; when they are turned off, the entire “Long Walk” is reflected in the pool. The pool, five and a half feet deep in its deepest section, holds 800,000 gallons of water and takes three days to fill. The Art Nouveau-style, classical mythology-based “Four Seasons” around the pool are by French-born American sculptor Henri Crenier (1873–1948).