Delaware and U.S. statesman John Middleton Clayton (1796-1856) built Buena Vista between 1845 and 1847, naming his grand scale mansion after the brilliant success of future President Zachary Taylor in the Mexican War. Buena Vista immediately took its place as a major residence of the Greek Revival style in Delaware, and Clayton’s dedication to the best and most current agricultural practices made the farm prosperous and productive.
With no surviving children, Clayton sold Buena Vista to his nephew James Clayton Douglass (1817-1875), son of his sister Harriet. His daughter Constance Margaret Douglass (1852-1926) inherited the property, and her son Clayton Douglass Buck (1890-1965) was born there. A cousin, Harriet Clayton Comegys (1840-1927), acting as trustee, sold Buena Vista to T. Coleman du Pont (1863-1930) in 1914. In 1921, his daughter Alice Hounsfield du Pont (1891-1967) married C. Douglass Buck, chief engineer for her father’s state-long “boulevard,” later known as the DuPont Highway. Buck would go on to serve as governor of Delaware from 1929 to 1937. Alice worked with prominent architect Brognard Okie on the design and addition of the large library wing. Completed in 1932, the extensive renovations turned Buena Vista into a magnificent mansion of historical significance. The Bucks sold Buena Vista to the State of Delaware in 1965 for one dollar.
To learn more about Buena Vista, download Buena Vista: A Brief History.