Sunday, June 27, 2010

Architecture, Virginia Style

"The point of travel is not to set foot on foreign land, it is to at last set foot in one's own country as foreign land." ~ Chesterton
After a week of touring historic sites in Virginia, my head is full of images of some of the grand homes of our forefathers. Some of their design ideas were a ill-advised (FOUR giant, homicidal stone staircases each side of the house ... really?) -- some were simply divine (alcove beds at Monticello -- adorable!) So I just have to share! I'll split this into two parts, lest I start sounding like a droning tour guide...
First, we visited Stratford Hall, birthplace and home of Robert E. Lee and the generations of Lees before him who included a governor, patriots, signers of the Declaration of Independence (two) and even women's rights activists.

As our droning tour guide pointed out, the mansion's style showcases the three characteristics of English architecture: "Symmetry, symmetry and symmetry." Heh. But seriously, get a "load" of the brick at this place (600,000 -- all hand fired on site.
We started the tour in an outlying building that is believed to be the coachman's quarters. This mural of a horse is thought to have been painted by his daughter, Sally.

Then we made our way into the Great House. And as I was trying to keep Little Miss M from slipping under the velvet rope and testing General Lee's bed for herself, I missed the part about "no photography allowed inside" and took this picture. It's the seven-foot tray ceiling in the Great Hall. Oops. Chastised by the gasps of my fellow tourists, I moved quickly to the back of the group where I stood, appropriately shamed. But the picture of this amazing woodwork and ceiling was worth it. Wouldn't you just die for a ceiling like this?
By the way, here's a photo (from the home's Web site, not my own illicit camera) of the bedroom where my girl DID eventually break free and slip through the gate where she proceded to run toward the bed and dance around like an imp. Fortunately, her Daddy coaxed her back before anyone noticed and we got the heck out of there...

More on Monticello next time!

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