Saturday, December 11, 2010

I go to the Bingham and the Vaile

First, let me ask if you heard the news today that the Midwest is under the assault of a windstorm bringing snow flurries and zero temps to us here in Kansas?

As I sit shivering here at the computer, I can attest that it's true.  When Keith and I got home from our myriad errands/Saturday things to do today, we found the water in the little henhouse frozen completely, and some very thirsty chickens.  We still don't have the base heater in there for their water, and we aren't sure what to do about it.  The intent for this year was that all the chickens from that henhouse be moved to the Big Henhouse for the winter.  That didn't happen.  Rambo would be trouble if we did it now, so we are in a dilemma, and as Keith would say, our insfrastructure is not up to date. Tomorrow in the wind we will cover the windows of the little henhouse, leave the red lamp burning in there, and hope for the best.  The chicks and chickens will get good water morning and evening while it is still so cold, so they will get water at least twice a day, and three when we are home.  We ran a heater under the waterer there last winter, but the big henhouse is down to two working outlets thanks to the mice and rats.  We are afraid to run the heat lamp on the three survivors, the base heater on the big waterer, the llama tank heater, and the lights off that outlet..... and then add another heater base.  We don't want to burn the chickens up.  Next year the big henhouse is due for a remodel, and the wiring repaired throughout.  Then we are going to run a dedicated line to the little henhouse with the plug up on a wall, where I cannot sting myself while changing water, as I did last spring. 

But right now, it's heading to zero, and the old house here at Calamity Acres is letting in the blowing wind while I sit and type. 

I had a wonderful day today.  I went to see my son Jeff, who turned forty in November, in Independence.  I saw him briefly last Saturday while we picked Gertie up, but today I got a longer visit, and took his Christmas presents to him.  He was in good spirits, and we made a short run to get something to eat.  I asked him to go to the Mansions with me... the two famous mansions in Independence that are open for visits and beautifully decorated this time of year.  He laughed... history is not his thing.  I did get a lovely picture taken with him at his house, with his roommate's little dog Sammy.

He towers over me, of course, my "baby" son!

And then I was off to the Bingham-Waggoner House, the first of the two mansions decorated for Christmas.

The Bingham Waggoner house was the home of George Caleb Bingham, the famous painter... who lived in it during the Civil War.  He painted the famous painting "Order Number 11" (Martial Law) in 1868 at the house to prevent Union General Thomas Ewing from succeding in politics after the war.
The family that lived in it the longest were the Waggoners, who ran a flour mill across the street from the estate, and whose sons and daughter led quite the lives of gentility. 
The final son willed the estate to his "housekeeper", who was also his roommate, and her heirs sold the mansion, barns, and remaining land to the city in the 1970's.  It is lovingly restored and maintained, and a phalanx of volunteers work there regularly.  The carriage house is a gift shop and the welcome center, and yes, weddings and private receptions can be held there.
I love this house... it was a family home and you can feel that in all the rooms. 
My sister and I toured it in September, but she was not able to come back today to see it in it's finery.
Here is a buckboard decorated for Christmas in the old carriage house:

Here is the carriage house fireplace
And here an old cupboard built in

The front door
Inside are two parlors, and a large dining room. The staircase is gorgeous.

This patriotic tree was in the gentleman's parlor.

This beautiful fox statue was in front of the fireplace in the gentleman's parlor.  I did not remember him from September, or my earlier visits.

The Lady's Parlor across the hall featured snow villages in pastels.

These stunning Magi were in the hallway at the foot of the stairs.
And here is the gorgeous dining room.  The lamp is
Tiffany, but I do not have a good shot of it here. The fireplace is green tile, very luxe.

This was the Grandmother's Room upstairs.  All of the bedrooms have original fireplaces, and they are all beautiful.

Here is a vignette from an upstairs bedroom, now set up as a gentleman's office.

And a bedroom from the third floor, which was probably used by live-in servants.

This window is at the top of the stairs to the "servant's quarters".  If they were indeed the servant's quarters as well as storage, (including a cistern), they were well-appointed and had a large common room for the staff to relax in.

The butler's pantry between the dining room and kitchen.

A dreamy vignette just inside the "refrigerator", the Ice room had walls a foot thick, and Santa is actually peeking out of the opened "refrigerator" door. This was bathed in blue light and was absolutely beautiful.

And this little fellow was looking up from a sink in one of the bedrooms.
Tomorrow, I'll feature pictures from the Vaile Mansion, also in Independence. 
The Vaile has a different kind of history, and was never lived in by a happy family.  Tragic in a way, it is still a very beautiful house.


  1. What a FABULOUS blog. Thank you so much! I am glad you had such a great day visiting the historic sites in beautiful Independence, MO.

  2. A fantastic house. Glad you had a good visit with your son.

  3. Love the picture of you and your "baby boy", Mary Ann!!! He is a pretty big feller!
    That place is simply gorgeous... I love how they have it decorated.


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