This morning, I combined my trip to the wonderful old Victorian mansions of Independence, Missouri, with a visit to see my youngest son, Jeff. Jeff does not figure much in these pages because, unlike most men, Jeff has never liked to drive. He has lived in Independence for some 25 years now, and has never had a telephone! I contact him through letters (the snail mail kind!) or by calling the store at which he works, a very large grocery. It was so good to see him, and I will see him several times more before Christmas, so will post a picture then. I took him some Thanksgiving meal. He had the day off yesterday, but has laryngitis badly, and stayed in all day, so he can at least have a taste this evening.
After I saw Jeff, I hastened across town in the Black Friday traffic to the old downtown historic area. The Vaile mansion is actually north of downtown, and sits on 4 1/2 acres, though it used to be a 50 acre home place. There was a beautiful lake to the north of it once, and a lovely greenhouse to the south, with many other dependencies, but those, except for a carriage house, are all gone now.
Warning... this is a picture-heavy post and all about CHRISTMAS!
Here is the front door. I was at the bottom of the steps. I could not wait to get through those doors!
This pier glass is in the main hallway, and all the decorations on the tables there were "food" decorations (fake food).
This is a wedding dress, isn't it beautiful? It is in the music room...there are four large public rooms on the first floor, two parlors, the music room, and the dining room. Behind them are the kitchen and a small room that was a breakfast room or food prep room... remember, there were servants in this household. There were also several storage rooms or work rooms at the back of the house.
This is the dining room fireplace, and you can see the pass-through in the wall next to it, so that dishes could be handed through from the kitchen behind it. The ceiling in this room has been restored in the last year. All the ceilings in this house have been decoratively painted. For many years, the house was used as a home for old folks, and as a sanitarium... and was divided up so that there were many little rooms where there are now the rooms we see on the tour. I can't imagine the old folks having to go up and down the staircases.
This picture is out of sequence, but I wanted you to see the "round" rooms at the back of the house. This was a huge cistern built in by Colonel Vaile so that it could be filled with water for the house. The cistern was on the second floor portion. Now that you have seen this picture, I'll show you the inside of the first floor room.
This is normally set up as a breakfast parlor, though if it was in the old days, it was for servants.
It literally took my breath away!
There were 28 trees in the small room! Biggify it to see how beautiful it was! Of course, I could only get a few in the camera shot.
Here is another shot:
Then I went upstairs.
This vignette is on the top of an antique partner desk. The room was used as an office by the colonel. High schoolers decorated this room this year, and our tour guide told us they were very glad to have the young people donate their time, as young persons are needed to continue the work as volunteers at the mansion.
Here is a room, now set up as a bedroom, but was used as a parlor by Mrs. Vaile. It had an "en suite"... a bathroom attached to it, and was next to the master bedroom.
It was, as you can see, highly decorated.
On the second floor were three bedrooms, or actually, two bedrooms and a sitting room for Mrs. Vaile, and an office for Colonel Vaile. We aren't sure today whether or not all the rooms were used as bedrooms, because the Vailes actually only lived there for three years, until Mrs. Vaile died of an overdose of laudanum. She had been shunned by polite society because the Colonel had an unclothed lady painted directly over their bed, and it scandalized society.
In the back of the house were a room for the housekeeper, and several other "servant rooms". They are now occupied by the mansion's shop.
This area is in the front of the second floor, directly over the doorway below.
The thing about the Vaile is it was never really a family home... there were no children born or lived there, and it was a paen to the Colonel's social standing at the time. After the death of Mrs. Vaile, the third floor, intended to be the ballroom, was never finished.
Except for the housekeeper, it is surmised, the Vaile servants all lived in the basement, whose rooms are not on display.
It is a gorgeous example of it's kind, though, and a privilege to see every year as it has been decorated. This year's was entitled:
"A Whimsical Victorian Christmas."
One interesting thing about the trees this year... they all had "bursts" on top of them, rather than traditional angels or stars... or even bows.
Here is an example:
I'd like to try this on our tree this year.
And finally, one last picture of Santa warming his feet by the fireplace in the master bedroom.
Tomorrow I'll show you some pictures of the Jail and Marshall's home, and the Bingham-Waggoner mansion on the south side of the Independence Square.