Annie Kenney&Christabe Pankhurst, England early 20th century
It’s downright painful to think about the women who fought for their vote and their freedom in the nineteenth-century. Women were kept in the kitchen, away from the real world, but they were cunning, seeking education, politics, and forming organizations to fight collectively. Among those who worked for our future are twentieth-century, Billie Jean King, Gloria Steinem, and nineteenth-century, Florence Nightingale, it’s a long list of women.
What do you think of when you think about the Civil War, the bloodiest war of all? What about the strong women left behind to work, to survive, to raise the kids? Acknowledged finally, women veterans are recognized.
North and South
Here’s an unreal statistic according to Google: Nearly as many men died in captivity during the Civil War as were killed in the whole of the Vietnam War. Hundreds of thousands died of disease. Roughly 2% of the population, an estimated 620,000 men and boys lost their lives in the line of duty.
So what happened? Has slavery disappeared? No, slavery still comes in many forms, caused by greed and passion for excess. Women are working hard to break the mold. Are we there yet? Are you part of the Me-Too fight? We still have work to do, do you agree?
My powerhouse Mom worked hard. The wholesale business she created within the family retail store was more than fulltime. She was a woman of great endurance, smart in business, keeper of the books, and well-respected. Mom broke the mold of domesticity. Hats off to all the Moms, strong women. I’m dazzled by those who have made a difference. Finding amazing women who changed the world is eye-opening. Who do you know that has made a difference? Will you share?
It was only two days after the big event, a truck smashing into the rear of my Acura RDX on I-95, in crawling traffic, and disabling the car. Obviously, I survived. It was a good time to get away with our son and daughter-in-law and enjoy being alive in Nashville. Drinks, fried food, pulled pork, yum. Some good singers, some not so good, but the Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman Auditorium was fab, Rascal Flatts. Tom pointed out the window where he and his brother many moons ago saw for free one of the last Grand Ole Opry shows at the Ryman before it moved to its new home. That statue is of Bill Monroe, father of Bluegrass music.
We saw the Christmas show at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, Trace Atkins and Friends. John Conlee also sang and was great.
Country Music Hall of Fame, We walked through the history and read about folks like Johnny Cash, Jim Reeves, Loretta Lynn, and so many others, their costumes, guitars, and the special car that Elvis had built. If you love this music, you must visit this place.
So is this the place to buy cowboy boots?
If you aren’t walking this wheelchair is the way to relax, especially if your bones are achy.
At the Music Hall of Fame. I was sore from that accident.
The rest of the photos are from the Opryland Hotel, the Ryman and Grand Ole Opry.
I haven’t been to the French Rivera. I haven’t been to the cliffs of Amalfi. I have driven, toured and run the soft sparkly sand through my fingers at the Algarve. The Algarve is Praia eo Camilo (Lagos)150 kilometers/90 miles of coastline.
We drove to S. Vicente, the Cape Cod of Portugal, the most southern point, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean.
It isn’t true if you’ve seen one beach, you’ve seen them all. They are all so different.
The Hawaiian personality of the thatched umbrellas was at the Falesia Praia, the picture below, and at no other.
We discovered all the beaches are topless, but not all the women were. No, you can’t see the ones that were topless. I don’t have them to share.
The path begins at the Nossa Senhora da Encarnação fort (GPS 37.09474, -8.46976), which is at the top of the steep hill leading to the left (east) side of the beach. The boardwalk extends for 570m to the car park at the top of the Algar Seco cliff (GPS 37.09332, -8.46556). A typical walk takes around 10 minutes but often takes much longer as the beautiful scenery is admired. The wooden path means that it is suitable for all and is perfect for less mobile visitors or families. At the base of the Algar, Seco cliffs is the Boneca Bar, a great setting for drinks and light meals.
Do note: The Carvoeiro Boardwalk does not extend down to the Algar Seco and to reach the base of the cliff a long flight of steps needs to be descended.
The town of Carvoeiro, where the stars reside, is a town known for entertaining kings and queens. You can find cafes at every turn. There were so many cafes, it was hard to choose.
Cafe Pine Cliffs Hotel, Algarve
We didn’t see any famous stars. The praia (the beach) was the star, with hills, cliffs, houses in the cliffs, sheer dropoffs, eloquent seascapes. Fishing boats right next to beach umbrellas, people at rest, children at play.
Custard tarts & and coffee (those tarts are outrageous) This pastéis de nata recipe makes as-close-to-authentic Portuguese custard tarts with a rich egg custard nestled in shatteringly crisp pastry. Tastes like home, even if you’re not from Portugal. If you live in Connecticut, buy these at Chaves Bakery in Bridgeport on Madison Ave.
Portuguese sundae, yum (atypical)
Coffee (above) is serious business in Portugal. Usually, espresso is served after every meal. After lunch at one of the cafes in Carvoeiro, we indulged. Decaf, brewed of course. We were horrified at our Tivoli Hotel in Villamoura, where they served Nescafe, a decaf espresso, not brewed. It wasn’t too bad. And that’s only b/c it was Nescafe. I tried another brand, not brewed, it tasted like bug spray smells. Plowing through all these places gave us both infinite pleasure. Not once did we see rain.
Alfama, Portugal is Lisbon’s oldest district made famous for its tight winding corridors and for having been one of the few neighborhoods to survive the devastating earthquake of 1755. Photo by Laura Pastores from Westminster College. – See more at: http://www.semesteratsea.org/2013/10/14/student-photo-gallery-portugal-and-spain/#sthash.Fr8RfmW1.dpuf
The white sand beach and cliffs of the beach of Praia da Rocha soft and reflective. The waves broke against the rocks and splashed up sizzling in the sunlight with colors of the rainbow.
Claire: Gail, what made you decide to set your historical romance in this particular time in our history?
Gail: I wanted my heroine to be feisty, to question the establishment–and in the 19th century it was a rigid one.
Claire: Well, Allie Baldwin certainly fits the role! But it’s not just the women’s vote Allie fights for. What else motivates her?
Gail: It was a time when women immigrants were leaving their homelands for a better life. Instead, they were working in deplorable conditions in factories and their children weren’t schooled. They had to work. Families lived in crowded tenements with so many others in the same situation.
Claire: Who helped inspire Allie’s cause?
Gail: Allie follows in the footsteps of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and so many others fighting for the votes for women, the fight for freedom, and the fight for the right to choose.
Claire: But she runs into the same kind of resistance they did, doesn’t she?
Gail: Most certainly. Allie had to fight her father, her brother, and even turn away from marriage to work for the vote.
Claire: What was one of Allie’s pet peeves?
Gail: She hated the corset. It was symbolic of the stranglehold on women.
Claire: Well your timing couldn’t be better, Gail! 2020 is the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment granting women the right to vote. Bravo!
A little more about the book:
Opposites attract in this gilded age historical romance when a young American suffragette eschews marriage until a handsome detective is hired to protect her from a dangerous stalker.
It’s not that she doesn’t want to marry…
Allie Baldwin is tired of writing about the latest fashions for the society column of her father’s newspaper, the New York Sentinel. Determined to write about important issues, Allie can’t help but defy danger at every turn. When she narrowly escapes a riot at a suffrage rally, Allie’s beleaguered parents enlist the services of a security agent—a dashing and debonair detective, with a knack for getting under Allie’s skin.
He’s not ready for marriage…
Peter Harrison is too busy running Harrison Detective Agency to bother with courtships and conjugality. He refuses to make the same mistakes his father made—marrying too young and forsaking family for work. But when a newspaper magnate hires him to protect his willful daughter—Peter is torn between his oath to bachelorhood and an alluring attraction to the ravishing redhead with a nose for trouble.
When a mysterious fire sparks her investigative instincts, can Allie stick to reporting the facts and restrain her flowering feelings for the handsome detective?
~~~Spunky Allie Baldwin wants to write about more significant issues in her father’s newspaper than the current fashion trends. Bottom line is, Allie is a suffragette who is far from shy and, defying her father, plunges headfirst into the fray of suffragette rallies. Worried for her safety, her parents hire a security guard to try to keep her out of trouble.
You can get your copy of The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin here, and find out more about Gail Ingis at her website.
Interviewer, Claire Gem is a multi-published, award-winning author of emotional romance—contemporary, paranormal, romantic suspense, and women’s fiction. She writes about strong, resilient women who won’t give up their quest for a happy-ever-after—and the men lucky enough to earn their love. No helpless, hapless heroines here. These spunky ladies redefine romance, on their terms.
A Taming Season
Claire has a special of short stories up for preorder on Amazon: ENIGMATA: Eerie Bits, Book 1 – A Collection of Short Stories by Claire Gem. Leaves you wondering where, why and what. It certainly ignited my curiosity, and gave me goosebumps, the kind that chilled me deep in my imagination. Want a thrill? Order now, and they’ll be ready to read on 9/29.
This blog is a revision and a reminder that The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin will be published a few days from today. I’m preparing a letter with the link to the Amazon review page that will post just after midnight for my ARC readers. There’s no point in posting the link here as it will only be active on the 10th at publication.
Launch day! Tuesday, September 10, 2019
My heroine, Allie Baldwin, in my historical romance, The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin, launching Tuesday, September 10th, has a passion – to help win the vote for women.
That’s not news, thirty-four years later women got the vote. But in 1886, a battle that had been going on for almost fifty years was denied over and over and over again.
As a reporter for the New York Sentinel, the newspaper her father owns, Allie is determined to do her part and attend a rally. Not any old rally, but one for suffrage, featuring many notable women speakers. She is willing to forego marriage to do her part securing votes for women. But her father not only disapproves of her going he also threatens not to print anything Allie writes pertaining to the rally. Her father’s objections don’t stop her. She concocts a disguise and makes her way to New York City Hall where more than a hundred women and men have gathered to listen to the suffragettes.
I would have done the same, but it would have been my mother arguing with me. She would have told me to stop this behavior, to grow up, and don’t think of hiding behind a cloak. “If you go,” she would have said, “I’ll find out and you’ll reap the consequences.”
My father, unlike Allie’s, was a dearheart, I could do no wrong in his eyes, and most of the time he couldn’t figure out why my mother was so strict with me. By the time I was born, the 19th Amendment had passed only fifteen years before, and women’s lives had indeed changed. I had a working mother, she was a jobber and bookkeeper. She wouldn’t have allowed me to go to a rally yet she benefited from women like Allie.
This is why we shouldn’t take the vote for granted. It is one of our most important rights, don’t you think so?
Votes for Women
Recently, tennis trailblazer, Billy Jean King spoke at the United States Tennis Open on opening night at the Billy Jean King National Tennis Center, Flushing Meadow, Corona Park, NY. She said, “In 1920, women got the right to vote, and while we’ve come a long way, there is still so much more to be done until we truly have equality for all.”
I hope there are many more Allie Baldwins’ out there, willing to keep working for equality in all arenas. I was lucky enough to have watched the original tennis match between Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs on TV, along with a million others. We all cheered for Billy Jean, She changed the women’s world and gave us all new life. What’s really interesting about a story that takes place in 1973 is that all those issues have suddenly bubbled up again: “Equal pay, sexism, gender equality, sexual equality—all these things are live debates again,” screenwriter Simon Beaufoy told TheWrap’s Steve Pond in a video interview at the Toronto Film Festival.
My pin! Billie Jean changed scads of things, she’s like my Allie.
With the approach of the 100th Anniversary of Woman Suffrage – there will be many events around the country to celebrate and educate. Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum, Norwalk, CT is planning several, including Women in Office and the 19th Amendment celebration and talk by Connecticut’s Secretary of State, Denise W. Merrill on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, 2-4pm. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here. Secretary Merrill’s talk will be followed by a self-guided tour of the museum’s featured exhibition, From Corsets to Suffrage: Victorian Women Trailblazers, as well as tea and light refreshments.
Coincidently, I just had the most delightful visit from Sharon Pistilli, who is running with three other candidates to make the town where I live, Fairfield, even better. I will remember to vote on Tuesday, Nov 5, 2019, from 6am-8pm. It’s my right and my privilege.
The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin is available for pre-order on Amazon and iBooks, Kobo, Banes and Noble Nook. Order now and the book will appear in your e-reading device on launch day, Tuesday, Sept 10, 2019.
Read about the passionate, tenacious Allie Baldwin:
Opposites attract in this gilded age historical romance when a young American suffragette eschews marriage until a handsome detective is hired to protect her from a dangerous stalker.
Square dancing . . . do you know how to square dance? The name comes from what my son says is four couples arranged in a square.
I learned how to do this kind of dancing when in high school. It has become familiar to me again because my son, CPA, public accountant, Paul Ingis, for his beloved hobby, is a square dance caller. His son Stephen, now twenty-one, began with his father when he was only eleven, and now
Stephen is a caller, much in demand. He has earned a tidy sum for college. Stephen and I discussed all this recently. I got curious as to the origin of square dancing and to ballroom dancing as we know it today where partners hold each other in dance. What’s the history? Here’s what I discovered . . .
The waltz, with its modern hold, began in England circa 1812. The dance was met with opposition because . . . you guessed it . . . the impropriety associated with the closed hold. But guess what, all dancing has a closed hold of some sorts. Even in square dancing, when partners swing each other. The swing is a traditional square dance move (call).
Now, wait a minute, while reviewing the history of dance, I realized that I cannot stretch this into ballroom dancing history. It would take a couple of blogs. So, I will stick to square dancing and maybe follow up with the ballroom dance another time.
Square dance group
Paul said that the square dancing that he knows is modern or western square dancing. It began in New England with the first settlers, who brought their own folk dancing with them from their homeland. The variety led to men interested in boiling down the steps, who would develop dances and routines of their own, including dances for groups, specifically for four couples. So there we have it, square dancing and its director (or caller) developed.
This type of new dancing served as recreation and social contact with neighbors. The only requirements were a wooden floor, music and a caller, and anyone who could make the calls to keep it organized. It could take place in a barn, somebody’s living room, the town hall, and later, the grange hall. There was always someone on hand who could play the guitar, fiddle or an accordion.
However, as the population became more urban it also became more cosmopolitan. Booming trade brought to our shores new fashions, new music, and new dances from other continents. The new dances became fashionable, and square dancing was displaced in our mushrooming cities. It survived only in isolated areas in the individual style peculiar to that region. In time, differences among these regional dances became so pronounced that a square dancer from one area often would not be able to dance in another. Square dancing seemed slated for oblivion.
But—it was revived by Henry Ford in the early 1930s as part of his early New England Restoration project. Others got interested and modernized it with more modern music, rather than the hillbilly band with its whiny fiddle. As square dancing moved into urban centers, articulate and professional callers were the norm. Nametags, worn by all dancers, put everyone on a first-name basis creating instant informality and fellowship. Square dancing had regained its old appeal in a modern setting and it spread over the nation. Today, this wholesome recreation is enjoyed by millions of Americans and others around the world. Wherever Americans have gone, England, Germany, Australia, Japan, etc., they have introduced square dancing with enthusiastic participation and applause.
Modern western-style square dancing is vibrant and growing. New ideas and dynamic choreography are introduced each year, insuring that square dancing will continue to be exciting. The music is fabulous. Always upbeat, new, tap your foot music. It’s for everyone, all ages, even the handicapped. Imagine? It’s fun to learn and move on to advanced groups. In the beginning, you learn a number of basic moves (calls) in various combinations. Knowledge and practice of the basic movements are learned in a series of weekly sessions. There are ‘barn dances’ for the newbies, mainstream and higher levels when you are ready. The challenges are creative and fulfilling when it all goes smooth.
Paul and family attend square dances all over the country whenever possible. They enjoy people, dancing, and camaraderie. He keeps up with the square dance community, to stay in tune. Paul uses his own music when he teaches and calls. He uses a wide variety of music beyond the expected country style, including rock and roll, show tunes, easy listening, jazz, and even classical, and his dancers love it!
The average dancer remains in the “Mainstream” and “Plus” levels of square dancing for four to five years. In order to extend this period of activity, “Advanced” and “Challenge” levels of square dancing have been developed. These additional levels of square dancing have maintained the interest of many dancers and have extended their dancing years.
Information from http://www.dosado.com and the archives of the Mid-Atlantic Challenge Association (MACA).
Remember that my latest book, The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin is up for preorder on Amazon and other retailers.
He returned the timepiece to the vest pocket of his tailored, gray-striped day coat and fiddled with the knot of his ascot making sure it was straight. The driver pulled the carriage up to the Sentinel building, the horses stomping on the stones and whinnying their arrival.
Miss Baldwin waved to him from the top of the stairs, tossing her red locks over her shoulder. Her lips lifted at the corners, his breath caught. The air around her seemed to glow.
Peter opened the carriage door and stepped down, “Good morning, Miss Baldwin,” he said climbing the stairs. His gaze traveled from the hem of her skirt to the short-buttoned jacket accentuating her tiny waist, her hat’s green feather and back to the diamond dog brooch on her lapel. She had a morning paper in hand and a smile on her face.
What’s that mean? Per-order dessert, that what I like to do, eat dessert first. Raise your hand if you agree. Then you won’t eat as much. I’m not really talking about dessert here, I’m talking about my latest book, The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin: the Gilded Age Heiresses.
If you pre-order the book, I will make an education donation to Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum in Norwalk, CT. The donation will help to support the wonderful winning educational and cultural programs that the museum offers. The programs are for everyone. This mansion was the first of its kind in the country, twenty years before the cottages of Newport, RI. Visitors come from all over the world. The Titanic exhibitions attracted folks from England, France and other countries. At the moment, we are celebrating the Nineteenth Amendment, for the woman’s vote. Did you know that women had been fighting for the right to vote from 1840, maybe even longer?
Allie at the window
Imagine having tea on a Sunday with lady friends, all wearing their fascinators and day-dresses. The museum replicates a day in the life of the society ladies. And then everyone gets to dress in their finest and have a tour of this gorgeous sixty-two-room mansion built in 1863.
The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin shouts about woman suffrage and slavery of women. Yes, all those years ago women were enslaved in marriage, raising children, and wifely duties. Any wealth that she brought to the marriage belonged to her husband. If she wanted a divorce, she was forced to make an announcement in the newspapers. Not the man, only the woman. Imagine?
Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum will celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution with the exhibition, “From Corsets to Suffrage: Victorian Women Trailblazers”, May 16-Nov. 3, 2019, 12-4 p.m. Opening Reception on May 16, 5:30-7:30 p.m., $5 for members; $10 for non-members.
ABOUT THE MUSEUM A National Registered Historic Landmark in Norwalk CT A National Historic Landmark since 1971, the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum is regarded as one of the earliest and most significant Second Empire Style country houses in the United States.
Opposites attract in this historical romance when a young suffragette foregoes the obedience of marriage until a handsome detective is hired to protect her from harm.
It’s not that she doesn’t want to marry…
Allie Baldwin is a gilded age heiress—also a journalist at The New York Sentinel. She’s tired of writing about the latest fashions for the society column and wants to write something more meaningful. Attending a rally at City Hall, planning to interview some of the speakers at the event, a situation ensues with Allie barely escaping. Enough is enough — to protect Allie from making poor decisions while fighting for freedom, her parents force a security agent upon her. Not just any agent, but a dangerous and delectable man…one that taunts her decision never to marry.
He’s not ready for marriage…
The dashing debonair Peter Harrison runs Harrison’s Detective Agency, handed down to him by his father. Much to his chagrin, he finds himself following in his father’s footsteps confirming why he’ll never marry until he’s older — because he’ll never do to his family what his father did to him. But when a gorgeous red-haired vixen runs right into him at an event his agency is working, he can’t help but enjoy the possibilities until she runs away leaving him without a trace. When the publisher of the city’s top newspaper hires him to protect his daughters on a short trip, he never imagined one of the ladies would be just who he was looking for.
But as luck would have it, his job is to keep order–she wants the right to vote… but maybe they can meet halfway—without losing their hearts.
“Educational donation to Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum for each book pre-ordered.”
The estate, then called “Elm Park,” was built by LeGrand Lockwood, who made his fortune in banking and the railroad industry. Construction began in 1864 just west of the Norwalk River in Norwalk and was completed four years later. Designed by European-trained, New York-based architect Detlef Lienau, the mansion “is considered his most significant surviving work,” according to the association. Both American and immigrant artisans worked to construct and decorate the house. Prominent New York decorating firms, including Herter Brothers and Leon Marcotte were contracted to furnish the mansion’s interiors. Financial reversals in 1869 and Lockwood’s death in 1872 resulted in loss of the estate by Lockwood’s heirs. The Mathews purchased in 1874 and maintained the country home until 1938 and was sold to the city of Norwalk.
East side of the home seen from the south, showing porte-cochere and greenhouse
“The Museum’s mission is to conserve the building while creating educational programs on the material, artistic and social culture of the Victorian era,” according to the museum organization’s Web site. Built in 1864-68, it is an early example of the style used by wealthy New York City elites such as the Vanderbilt’s in building their Gilded Age mansions later in the 19th century, and set a new standard for opulence.
In a decades-long Christmastime tradition, interior decorators deck out about a dozen rooms in the mansion with holiday decorations. An annual “community celebration” is held in December with Christmas music, refreshments and a Santa Claus. In 2007, 10 interior decorators volunteered their services and materials for the event.
The museum has hosted an annual antique show since 1978. In 2006 the show was held the last weekend in October and attracted dealers from Ohio and Pennsylvania as well as Connecticut.
The home was used as a filming location for the 2004 remake of The Stepford Wives. Paramount Pictures paid the museum $400,000 to paint its central rotunda. The studio also left behind some large paintings (in essence, theatrical pastiches), which serve to emphasize the dramatic size of the rotunda. As a result, the walls look fresh and decorated, and will remain protected until further funds become available for proper, curatorial restoration of the original damaged surfaces.
On December 21st, with mistletoe and holly, the trustees celebrated the volunteers who are doing a fantastic job serving as workers for the operations and docents. While the trustees, of which I am one as well as the art curator, work for the preservation and protection of this precious part of history in the United States. Other dedicated people are here below who offer their services unsolicited!!! Ladies, Danna of The Silk Touch and Marcia, interior designer, and two gentlemen, Mike, and David Westmoreland.
If you want to be part of this museum, we always appreciate volunteers. Just give us a call, ask for Melissa. 203-838-9799 ext. 115.
It began around 1840 here in the USA. Women’s suffrage. That’s the same year of Ireland’s potato famine. Women had their own famine, lack of freedom, poor job situations, lack of education for children who had to work to help their families. Working conditions shamefully were like rat holes. Women have been fighting for their freedom for almost two centuries, the vote finally came in 1920, but the fight continues.
I’m still writing my book, the Unforgettable Miss Baldwin. Allie, bless her heart, has a passion to see women get the vote, and have rights, be free. She’s working with Susan B. Anthony and the many women fighting for the same. Of course no resolution happened in her day, but she fought alongside the many women working to change the way women were treated. The resolutions below are actually from Wikipedia’s 20th century list.
Dragged off to jail for participating in a freedom fight.
Those who fought got dragged off to jail. Some went on hunger strikes and were forced fed. Unbelievable. This is not a history lesson, but some of the stories read like unsolved mysteries.
If you remember Gloria Steinham, another fighter for women’s freedom, along with Billy Jean King and others, we are still fighting.
Resolutions 1325 and 1820 and CEDAW share the following agenda on women’s human rights and gender equality:
A couple of years ago, my husband, Tom Claus and I spent three fantastic days in Asheville, NC, home to the Biltmore House. The place is awesome. It is the largest privately-owned home in the United States. The 250-room mansion features 33 family and guest bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces, three kitchens, an indoor swimming pool with electric underwater lights and a bowling alley. We took an architectural tour and got to see behind the scenes.
A cozy room at the Biltmore
George W. Vanderbilt III knew what he was doing. His inheritance was less than his siblings, but he managed well. He called in the prominent New York architect, Richard Morris Hunt, who had previously designed houses for various Vanderbilt family members, to design the house in the Chateauesque style, using several Loire Valley French Renaissance architecture chateaux, including the Chateau de Blois as models. The house has similar features as France’s Chateau Chambord. He closely copied the staircase of the Chateau de Blois. The estate includes its own village, today named Biltmore Village, and a church in town, known today as the “Cathedral of All Souls.”
Christmas entry Hall
The collections at the house are priceless furnishings and artworks. The house is equipped with every convenience from elevators to refrigerators. The surrounding grounds, designed by prominent landscape architect, who also designed New York’s Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted, are impressive, encompassing 125,000 acres of forests, farms and a dairy, a 250-acre wooded park, five pleasure gardens and 30 miles of macadamized roadways.
Biltmore House was his country home, a respite away from city life, and a place for his mother when she visited the hot springs in the area. It became an American icon. Unfortunately, after his death and the passing of his wife, Edith Vanderbilt, it became run down, like other historic sites. Developers offered to buy 12,000 acres to build subdivisions. But George’s great-grandson, William A. V. Cecil, Jr. thought not. By the 1950’s Cecil had started a restoration project. The treasure was to remain with the Vanderbilt family.
Jan Aertsen van der Bilt had emigrated to this country from Holland around 1650. They prospered as farmers on Staten Island, New York and lived modestly. It was only during the lifetime of Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877) that the family name became synonymous with extraordinary wealth. It was especially important to me to visit this architectural wonder, not only architecturally, but to follow the trek of the Vanderbilt family. My affiliation with the 1867 Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum in Norwalk, CT connects me to the Vanderbilt name through the business relationship of Cornelius (aka as the Commander) and LeGrand Lockwood, same as the mansion mentioned above.