Monday Escape

Almost went with a black & white architectural photo, but with an enormous portion of the country undergoing or awaiting Sandy, it seemed to me a photo with at least a little colour—and a serene mood—was more suitable. It is a Monday, after all.

Kitchen, Blennerhassett Island State Park, WV. Copyright Liberty Images/Jen Baker; all rights reserved.

I took this photo in the mansion kitchen at Blennerhassett Island in West Virginia. The lively green trim was thought to keep insects away. Of course, as with all such mansions built during this era, the kitchen was in a small building separate from the house—this not only reduced the risk of fires (though that is what eventually destroyed the mansion, now rebuilt), but kept the home free of cooking odours.

Originally built in 1798, Blennerhassett was rebuilt between 1984-1991 after archaeologists found the original home’s foundations in 1973. In order to rebuild accurately, a great deal of research was done—even taking cues from the letters and diaries of those who had visited the mansion when the Blennerhassetts lived in the home. After all, Mr. Blennerhassett was a wealthy aristocrat, and his beautifully designed home, accompanied by two acres of beautiful gardens, was considered the most elegant, well-appointed home west of the Alleghenies. Presuming that the home was rebuilt accurately, I must agree—it’s handsome and graceful. 

One note, though: Mr. Blennerhassett was considered a traitor to the United States. Working with the infamous Aaron Burr, Blennerhassett was accused plotting a new empire in America’s Southwest. Despite attempting to flee, Mr. Blennerhassett was caught and tossed into the Virginia State Penitentiary; Burr was tried and acquitted. Blennerhassett was released from prison, but understandably, his reputation was ruined. Historians now believe Blennerhassett and Burr were actually planning to begin their new nation in Texas—Mexico, at the time. Even so, I’m not sure I look too kindly on him. In addition to the above-noted kerfluffle with America, Blennerhassett left Ireland in the first place because he’d married his niece—indeed, he was banished from the Emerald Isle.

If you’re in the area, definitely put aside some time to visit the Island. The mansion tour is informative, and the island itself peaceful and lovely—no cars, just horse-drawn carriages. It is also the site of a stately (and valuable) black walnut grove, valued at near three million dollars. I had no idea black Black Walnut Grove at Blennerhassett Island, WV. Copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved.walnut was worth so very much!

Anytime someone tells me history is boring, I’m so flummoxed no response can possibly make its way to my lips.

Have a great day—and stay safe if you’re in the vast Sandy danger zone!

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6 thoughts on “Monday Escape

  1. So interesting Jen. I too love love love old mansions. One of my favourite series on tv was called “American Castles”. They visited many stately homes, including Monticello and discussed their prominence in history and the families that owned them. Thank’s for the tour. It’s great there are no cars there.

    • Oh, I love them, too! We’re always touring old mansions and plantations on vacation—we’ve even planned several around just that!

      I think I’ve heard of that show, but not seen it. Of course, I’ve been TO many of the homes, so I guess that is even better (so long as you have a good docent)! Have you toured any yourself?

      • I went to Jeffersons Monticello twice when my husband was working in Charlottesville in 2000. We loved the whole area, so much history there. Of course, in Europe it’s all about churches and while the Louve is now a museum, it once was a royal palace. So it’s cool that someone use to live there.

  2. That green window is absolutely stunning. I think that green is so often under utilized in home decor, especially when dealing with period homes.

    I could not agree with you more, history is amongst the most exciting, fascinating, amazing subjects on the face of the earth and I couldn’t imagine going a single day without immersing myself in as much of it as I possibly can.

    ♥ Jessica

    • Thank you, Jessica! I’m the same way. And there are so many fine books to read on so many historical topics…other than touring homes like this one, my ideal holiday is sitting somewhere quiet and pretty with a stack of books beside me. 😉

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