Friday, December 5, 2014

The Annual Christmas House Tour

Today, despite my cold, I 
took myself on my annual Christmas house tour of the two 
big mansions in Independence, Missouri:  The Vaile, and the Bingham-Waggoner. 

I remind you all that the Vaile was not really a family home... by the time it was built, 
Colonel and Mrs. Vaile lived in it only a very short time until Mrs. 
Vaile sadly died, suspected by an overdose of laudanum, the use of 
which was common in the late 1800's. 

She had been shunned by the matrons of Independence because 
of this portrait painted over her bed: 

The Vailes were made to paint diaphanous clothing over the ... unrestrained lady. 

Is this the original portrait?  I have been through the house so many times I can't remember. 

However, I thought the master bedroom, which was, in fact, the Vaile's room... was set up so charmingly this year.  See the Colonel looking out the window, while Mrs. Vaile sleeps under 
the quilt?  Surely he's listening for Santa! 

I had crept up the back steps from the kitchen... and these steps originally led into the 
housekeepers rooms.  The servants at the Vaile house had rooms in the basement, which 
are off-limits on the tour. 

The third floor is also off-limits... and I learned today that the ballroom there has been 
turned into a large storage area with shelves, and the trees and many of the decorations we see every year are stored there. 

As always, the house was decorated beautifully.  See the pass through into the kitchen on the left? 

Here it is from the kitchen side... see it there on the right? 

This is something unusual in the kitchen that I don't remember from years past... it is 
a biscuit roller!  I'm sure it was considered very new-fangled when it was created. 

This lovely vignette was in the cistern room ... over this room was built the cistern for the house, and 
this was used as a small breakfast room, I suspect by the staff. 

I can't explain these. 

This beautiful lady was in the upper hallway. 

Oh, what I wouldn't give to see the third floor ballroom, I admit it. 

Only the volunteers are allowed up there. 

This is looking to the right of the stairs in the above picture... that's the door into the housekeeper's quarters.  They were actually spacious.  

I have to admit I am not a fan of outlandish Christmas colors... though I thought it was well-done. 

I did recognize many of the decorations, though. If you notice, there is an upside-down Christmas tree (white) in the middle. 

Bravo to the Vaile volunteers for remembering the Reason for the Season! 

I have to admit I loved the blue pheasant. 

This is an outisde view of the Vaile from the south side.  It's easy to see where the cistern was on the left... the round part.  The cistern was above it, under the roof.  It's a grand old house, but 
the Vailes had no children, and when Mrs. Vaile died, the "Colonel" did not stay there. 
It was actually a sanitarium for a while, and an old folks home.. can you imagine them going up and down the stairs? 

It was then donated to the historical society. 

And then I went to my favorite of the two houses, the Bingham-Waggoner house 
for the second part of my day's tour.  More pictures from it, tomorrow. 
It was a family home for years... I love this house. 

To my mind, it was also better decorated for this year. 

I hope this has whetted your interest! 

I continue with the cold, and probably should not have been out in the dripping day... but I'm full of Nyquil and going to bed early. 

More tomorrow! 


  1. Those are fantastic photos!! Do you think the house is haunted? I bet it is!

  2. How amazing!!! I would love a house like that is a the plumbing, wiring and insulation were modern.

    The shoes I believe may be the witch that Dorothy's house landed on...perfect for a Christmas holiday!?

    My uncle lived for years in Independence.

  3. I enjoyed the tour immensely! I love old homes like that. Glad you made the effort to go out. It's raining here today and I'm going with my sisters to some craft shows. Hope I don't catch a cold. Take care and feel better soon.

  4. Beautiful old place. Glad it's being kept up.


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