Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Victorian’

Victorian Elegance at Barnesville Mansion Museum

Barnesville Mansion

This eye-catching mansion showcases the luxurious Victorian era.

Feel the spirit of Victorian times in this elegant, historic mansion in Barnesville. The beauty of Barnesville Victorian Mansion Museum lasts year around, but comes alive at Christmas time when it is beautifully decorated in Victorian style.

Barnesville Owner

A portrait of John Bradford, the original owner appears upstairs.

Twenty-six rooms have been restored to the original style of its construction during 1888-1893 for John W. “Dias” Bradford, a well-known merchant and highly respected citizen of Barnesville. It took five years to build this fine Victorian home as a great architect worked with the finest craftsmen to finish everything to perfection. Not only did he build this fine house, but Bradford was also responsible for building the first bank in Barnesville.

Barnesville Griffin

A protective griffin in the fretwork greets visitors upon entering.

Arriving through the carriage entrance, you’re greeted by a carved oak fretwork, a design formed by intricate scrolling. A winged griffin was included in the carving, as it was believed a griffin would prevent misfortune.

Barnesville Door Hinges

Even the door hinges showed intricate designs.

Everything speaks of elegance with eleven fireplaces, which have decorative carved wooden mantles. Woodwork throughout is handcarved so even the spirals on the banister have an individual air. The floors show a beautiful parquet design from room to room. Even the hinges on the doors have an intricate design, which was then matched on the doorknobs and staircase. No cost was spared.

Barnesville Butler's Bell

A butler’s bell system was installed when the home was built with the telephone later added below it.

Even at this early time, the builder had the foresight to wire the house for electricity. Therefore, the lights could use either gas or electric.

Barnesville Child's Dress

This pretty yellow lace dress was found in a trunk in the attic.

Finding drinking water in those early days created a problem. Most places had a cistern, which caught rain water and drainage from other sources. This water made everyone sick so it was only used for cleaning and bathing. Their drinks consisted of beer, cider, whiskey and wine. Life expectancy was forty-six years.

Inglenook, a special courting room, set back into the wall. The man sat on one end and the girl on the other. In this special room, the acoustics were such that they could talk softly to one another, but no one else could hear them.

Barnesville Growlery

The Growlery provided a place for men to relax during the evening.

The Growlery was the place men often met after dinner to discuss business while smoking and playing games. Beautifully carved ivory and clay pipes rested on the game table as well as an ornate spittoon and snuff bottles. A stereoscope had viewing cards handy.

While the house had many fireplaces, the one in the Growlery had a special charm. Made with blue and white tile from Consolidated Pottery of Zanesville, it contained the image of Diana, Goddess of the Hunt.

Barnesville Bed with Doll

A Shannon Doll from a West Virginia collection stands at the foot of an original bed.

Bathrooms presented an interesting story as there were three inside, one downstairs – a powder room, and two upstairs. However, they were suspicious of going to an indoor toilet since they feared sewer gases could be dangerous. The servants’ rooms were located near the bathrooms.

Barnesville Child's Bedroom

This child’s bedroom contained everything a little girl would enjoy.

The powder room and one upstairs bath had 22K gold decorations. Two 540 gallon tanks located on the third floor supplied running water.

In that day, most people took one bath a week. Every month they washed their hair with a special rinse of eggs and vinegar to give it a lasting shine.

Barnesville Clock Room

A picture of Queen Victoria had been placed in their clock room.

Clocks held an importance far above just telling time. You could tell the quality of the home as well as their finances by the kinds of clocks they had on display. Taking care of the clocks was always the man’s duty, or sometimes the oldest son. The museum has a large clock collection on the third floor.

That third floor also held the ballroom, which was typical of Victorian mansions. Twelve couples could easily dance around the floor. An adjoining room held an old Victrola, organ and banjo.

Barnesville Bathrub

Emery Stewart drew flowers on this bathtub in 1966.

Excellent guides created an informative day. They all enjoyed sharing stories of the mansion. One of those guides, Emery Stewart, started working at the museum when he was a student at Barnesville High School in 1966. His first assignment was to paint flowers on the bathtub in the upstairs bathroom. He’s been a volunteer ever since and loves his hometown of Barnesville.

One amazing picture, a “hair” picture, had been made from pieces of family hair. This unusual picture formed a family tree with pieces of each person’s hair on their branch of the tree. Lovingly made step by step by an aunt or grandmother, the whole family story could be told from the “hair family tree”.

Barnesville Doll Collection

A large collection of Pete Ballard dolls can be found upstairs.

Barnesville sat along the railroad line and was a wealthy city in its heyday, having eleven hotels, seventeen saloons, and several mansions. The Board members were very pleased to receive a grant from the Ohio Arts Council to be used for television broadcasting so they could share the history of their mansion and hometown.

The Barnesville Victorian Mansion Museum at 532 N. Chestnut Street is open for tours May 1 through October 1, Wednesday through Sunday from 1:00-4:00 pm. Groups and buses can be scheduled at any time by contacting the museum.

Barnesville Volunteers on Porch

Volunteers Sherry McClellan, Emery Stewart, and Judy Jenewein help keep history alive.

Specials events take place at the mansion throughout the year. They’ve had wine tastings, graveyard tours, and their lovely Christmas tour. Here you can see a Victorian style Christmas from the weekend after Thanksgiving until the weekend before Christmas.

Keeping the spirit of their beginning alive will hopefully carry over from generation to generation.

The Barnesville Victorian Museum is located at 532 N Chestnut Street in Barnesville, Ohio. Take OH-800 S off I-70 into Barnesville. Make a left on Walton Avenue and the museum will be on the left.

 

 

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The Castle Radiates Victorian Elegance

The Castle Oozing Victorian charm and Victorian Christmas, The Castle in Marietta, Ohio takes one back to a simpler time – from a wealthy viewpoint! Even though now situated in the center of town, back in 1858 when it was first built, the house was on one of the highest spots in the area and overlooked the then existing town of Marietta. Two trees still stand in the front yard where they were planted over a hundred and fifty years ago.

Today The Castle is operated by Betsey Mills Corporation and is dedicated to the education of the public regarding Marietta history as well as life in Victorian times. Tours of The Castle are given on a daily basis whenever visitors happen to arrive. The guides are very knowledgeable of the history of The Castle and share a lot of humorous stories that make the visit extra enjoyable. If you enjoy life in Victorian times, perhaps this glimpse inside will make you eager to visit there yourself.

The Carriage HouseBeginning in the Carriage House, which now serves as the Visitors’ Center, a video explains a brief history of the people who have resided at The Castle. Back in 1855, Melvin Clarke paid $2000 for two empty lots where the house was to be built. Ownership by prominent and influential citizens has changed quite often over the years from original owner/builder, who was an attorney and first city solicitor, and continuing with the person who established the Bank of Marietta,  the owner of Marietta Gazette, and even an Ohio State Senator.

The Castle EntrancewaySince taking pictures inside was not permitted, decided to buy a couple postcards of my favorite rooms. Walking in the front door, the spirit of Victorian Christmas surrounded you with beautiful poinsettias, decorated trees, and Victorian figurines and dolls. The first thing to catch my eye was the pump organ from Stevens Organ and Piano Company. Music was an important part of Victorian times, and there were two more pianos in their parlors, as well as an Edison music box from 1892, which played the cylinder records of hard black wax. The song, “Echo All Over the World,” was on display in its original case from Edison Gold Moulded Records.

Another item of special interest was a hat rack just inside the front entrance. Not only was there a place to hang your hat, but also a beautiful mirror to make certain your hair was perfectly in place…’hat hair’ would not be acceptable! The plate for calling cards still held those of people who had visited the house many years ago.

The Castle LibraryIn the library, Captain William Holden had what they called the ‘first lap-top’ where he kept all his important paperwork and records. This was also the place, right next to the sitting room, where adults read while the younger ladies were having gentlemen callers. Even though their chairs were separated by a table, some of the elders in the family watched and listened carefully. The chairs themselves were intriguing as they sat very low to the floor so there was no possibility of a lady’s ankles showing, an act of disgrace during Victorian times.

Fascinating also were the items made of human hair. If a young lady or gentleman wanted to keep a remembrance of their special person close to them, they would weave their hair into a special design. Some were braided, then used in place of a watch chain to attach a pocket watch to the jacket, while others were intricately designed necklaces and broaches. All were quite beautiful.

All furnishings in The Castle were either original Victorian items, which had actually been used in the home, or furnishings from other Marietta homes of that time. Wood trim and doors were made of red oak downstairs where guests would be entertained, but upstairs were made of pine as only the family would be upstairs. According to the guide, one beautifully designed wall shelf had originally held a collection of Captain William Holden’s, who they called the original Spiderman. Captain Holden had collected 3,000 different spiders and actually kept them on display.

In the 1890’s, a water closet was built to include indoor bathroom facilities. This was originally upstairs only and could only be used by family members, while servants had to use the outdoor privy. Guests were not permitted upstairs so if they had been there long enough to need to use the bathroom, perhaps it was time for them to go home. Goodbye for now my friends!

If you want to hear more fascinating stories of The Castle, take a trip to Marietta on I-77 and use Exit 1 to Route 7 South.  Turn right on Fourth Street and The Castle is located on the hill at 418 Fourth Street. There is a handicap entrance in the rear with limited parking.

McKinley’s Victorian Style Home First Ladies Historic Site

Could the sound of footsteps on the spiral staircase at the Saxton McKinley House be those of Ida McKinley? Once in a while the footsteps echo late at night, and the light step is attributed to Ida. That seems quite possible as this was her family home where she lived for twenty-eight years.

Beautiful gardens connect the Education and Research Center to the Ida Saxton McKinley House, both part of the First Ladies National Historic Site in Canton, Ohio. Visitors were greeted by a  young lady dressed in a replica of Julia Tyler’s gown. She was very knowledgeable regarding the history of the house and the family.

To add a little mystery, there are conflicting stories as to how Ida and William McKinley met each other.  Some said Ida was a cashier in the bank where William transacted business for the law firm he joined when moving to Canton. Another story said that both Ida and William were Sunday School teachers at different churches, and passed each other on the way to church.  Or perhaps they met during a picnic at Myers Lake Park. However they met, William indulged her every whim and was seldom far from her side, which turned out to be a major political asset.

The Saxton McKinley House was originally built in 1840 by Ida’s maternal grandfather, George DeWalt. Her other grandfather, John Saxton, was founder of the Canton Repository newspaper. Her affluent background made it possible to lead an extravagant lifestyle. Almost everything inside the house today is a reproduction, but based very carefully on the Victorian style used in the original 1800’s house – after extensive research at the Smithsonian. Fortunately, there are still original walls and woodwork throughout much of the home.

In the Formal Parlor you get a glimpse of a music box purchased on Ida’s trip to Switzerland as well as the piano topped with Victorian sheet music, which she enjoyed playing. The Library held William McKinley’s chair and a large collection of Ida’s fans, which numbered over 250. On the third floor, William had his office across the hall from Ida’s room so he could be close to her.  Their second child, Ida, died at six months of age and two years later Katie, their three year old, contracted typhoid fever and passed away. Consumed by her grief, Ida’s headaches became more severe, accompanied by seizures and tremors.

To ease her migraine headaches, her hair was cut because the weight of the braids was considered a possible cause. Medication for her seizures often made her listless. These two problems made it necessary for Ida to sit as much as possible and this petite lady with a 20″ waist, 18″ when corseted, attempted to hide her afflictions as much as possible.  If she had an attack out in public, William would put a handkerchief over her face so people would not glimpse her facial contortions during seizures.

Also on the third floor was the beautiful ballroom for entertaining. Today the walls of that ballroom display short stories and pictures regarding the life of each First Lady. Many interesting facts were given about various First Ladies, for example,  Francis Cleveland happened to be America’s youngest First Lady. Grover Cleveland was a friend of the family’s and actually bought Francis her baby carriage.

The McKinleys only lived at the Saxton McKinley House for a short time  between 1878-1895, while William was serving in the US House of Representatives and then as Governor of Ohio. During his presidential campaign, they moved to a more modest home, which more closely matched William’s background.

Often we hear stories about our presidents, so it was refreshing to hear stories about their First Ladies and catch a glimpse at their lifestyle.  A friend wrote about Ida Saxton McKinley, “Her greatest charm was her perfect sincerity and thoughtfulness for others.  No day passed over her head without her doing something for someone.”  What a great tribute to this special First Lady!

The Saxton McKinley House is located  off I-77 in Canton, Ohio right next door to the First Ladies Library at 205 Market Street South. All tours of the facility are guided and admission, which includes  both the Library and the House, is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and $5 for children. 

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