Book Journeys – Belmont Mansion

Nashville's 10 Hidden Gems - Nashville Lifestyles
Belmont Mansion – Pinterest

Known for its musical history, Nashville is a city with, not only a song or two, but a rich story. Home of our nation’s 7th president, Andrew Johnson, as well as the reputed ‘birthplace of country music’, Nashville offers a wide range of opportunities for a journey.

 

But since we’re celebrating Tamera Alexander’s newest release, A Song Yet Unsung, our feature place for our book journey is Belmont Mansion and…I’m also tempted to take you guys on a little jaunt to the mountains of eastern Tennessee.

The Peri, statue at Belmont Mansion, Nashville, TN
Belmont – Pinterest

The Civil War was particularly hard on the South, and Nashville was no exception. With the battle raging both within and without the city walls, the world Rebekah Carrington steps back into is nothing like the city she left 10 years before. In A Note Yet Unsung, our heroine, Rebekah, garners employment with (and finds an ally in) the formidable Adelicia Acklen – a woman of fantastic wealth and influence. In the novel, she holds sway for both Rebekah and Tate (the hero), and Tamera does a fantastic job of incorporating this real-life heroine as a secondary character into her story.

 

Adelicia Acklen  | History of American Women
Adelicia Acklen – Pinterest

In all honesty, Adelicia could have been the heroine of her own story. Her early life with riddled with grief. Her fiancé died just before their marriage, her second husband died after seven years of marriage, and all four of their children died before they reached the age of eleven. She would marry again and lose two of her six children before her second husband died after 14 years of marriage. Her second husband, Joseph Acklen, was an excellent businessman and increased Adelicia’s original wealth substantially. Together they built Belmont Mansion – an antebellum, Italian-style home seated on the highest hill of a 177 acre ‘plantation’.

 

Belmont Plantation located in Nashville, Tennessee    http://belmontmansion.com/about-us/history/
Belmont Mansion – Pinterest

Construction began in 1853 and the house and grounds included an art gallery, aviary, bear house, and even a zoo. The Acklens opened the grounds to the locals so they could experience the opportunity of seeing the variety Belmont had to offer, and in so doing, had Nashville’s first public park. The 36 room mansion houses artwork from all over the world and oozes elegance and style. The Acklens also gave an annual ball at their home. Despite Belmont being a Union headquarters during the Civil War and caught in the middle of the Battle of Franklin, the sprawling and impression mansion survived – beautifully intact.

 

Belmont Mansion stairs - is it possible to fall in love with a staircase?..  (Meridian Manor)
Inside Belmont – Pinterest

I can’t imagine what Adelicia’s losses forged within her but from all accounts she was a force to be reckoned with, although she was an exceedingly generous person. Beautiful, smart, and highly influential, she’s been compared to Scarlet O’Hara in being able to work the crowd to get what she wanted. Read more here.

 

NoteYetUnsung_cover-4color-SIM.inddTo read more about Adelicia Acklen in fictional form, don’t miss Tamera Alexander’s book, A Note Yet Unsung. You can read my review here. And stop by Saturday for our Swoony Saturday post featuring Tate, the hero in this novel.

And…if you read the book, you’ll get a taste of my Appalachian culture. Just for kicks, here are a few pics from eastern Tennessee where my family lived for 8 years.

I regret, at times, that we did not move to the Smokey Mt. area of Tennessee, we gave it serious thought!  Maybe it is not out of the running for a later time!  LOVE this place!
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East Tennessee Mountains
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Smoky Mountains in Eastern Tennessee
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Mount Le Conte  Smoky Mountain National Park Eastern Tennessee
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Book Journeys – Historic Villages

Book Journeys

TruetoYou_mck.inddI finished reading Becky Wade’s newest novel, True to You, last week which features a historic village that the heroine owns, so I thought it would be cool to feature a few historic villages in the U.S. to celebrate keeping history alive 😊

I haven’t visited most of these, but I’d LOVE to, because you really do get a sense of stepping-back-in-time when you walk down a street surrounded by period buildings (AND have people dressed in period clothing reenacting daily jobs or activities).

Let’s start with the biggest – and one I’ve actually visited.

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg....I revise my previous London statement....it is tied with the 'burg for my favorite place on Earth <3
Colonial Williamsburg – Pinterest

In the 1920s Reverend Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. combined forces to begin restoration of the largest British outpost in colonial America. The 18th century village provides over 300 acres of a historic world, complete with buildings, people, furnishings…and even animals. Step inside a place set to backdrop America’s journey toward revolution and experience what life looked like on the cusp of the creation of a great nation.

Connor Prairie Living History Museum

Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Michigan
Dearborn, MI – Pinterest

If you’re more inclined to take a more ‘frontier’ adventure, you might enjoy a trip to Fishers, Indiana. 1836 Connor Prairietown is the restoration of a early 19th century rural town on the edge of the White River. Started in the 1930s by Eli Lilly, the museum began with the restoration of the William Connor House and then expanded to include an entire village for people to explore. Kid activities, reenactments, and even…oh oh, one of my favorite parts, a hot air balloon launch to celebrate man’s early advancements in flight. I think a little trip westward sounds like a great idea.

The Greenford Village

Greenfield Village, Dearborn, MI A collection of nearly 100 historic buildings on a 200-acre (80-hectare) site in Dearborn, southeastern Michigan, U.S. It was established in 1933 by industrialist Henry Ford, who relocated or reconstructed buildings there from throughout the United States.
Dearborn, MI – Pinterest

People with lots of money and a little (or lot) of eccentricity do some interesting things sometimes. Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan is a plethora of historic wonder. Henry Ford created this 80-acre farm to honor people he admired, particularly from the early 1900s. In some cases, he recreated buildings, in other cases he restored or saved them. It includes the birthplaces, homes, or workshops of people like Thomas Edison, Noah Webster, or the Wright Brothers. It even includes the courthouse where Abraham Lincoln practiced law. Henry Ford loved the innovative mind, and it shows in the fact that Greenfield has a running steam locomotive and opportunities to ride in a Model T (of course). There are interactive exhibits, a horse-and-buggy rides, a carousel, and all sorts of hands-on activities. Sounds AMAZING for those of us who LOVE history!

 

Believe it or not, there are a great many living history museums throughout the US, but these are a few of the best (and biggest).

Plimouth Plantation in Plymouth, MA.  So much fun taking a step back into our country's history.....some original artifacts were used as props!
Plimouth – Pinterest

Some honorable mentions would be Mount Vernon, Mystic Seaport, OK Corral, Plimouth Plantation (I REALLY WANT TO VISIT THIS ONE), Jamestown, and Stone Mountain Antebellum Plantation.

Have you ever visited a Living History Museum? What did you think? What era or place in history would you like to see recreated?

BWade-436You can order your own copy here

You can check out Becky’s beautiful website and other books, here.

(Check out my review of True to You here)

Book Journeys- The Biltmore’s Library!

Okay, so we’re back on our tour of the Biltmore – America’s largest privately owned home. This beautiful French-inspired estate is nestled in the lovely Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville, NC and is one of my FAVORITE places to visit.

You can visit my previous Biltmore posts here and here, but today we’re going to spend an entire post touring my FAVORITE room in the house – the Library!

Book Journeys - Biltmore Library.png

18579073_10213024010255642_1258846513_nRight now, The Biltmore has a wonderful exhibit where some of George Vanderbilt’s books from his library are on display along with costumes from movie-adaptations of those novels. Peter Pan, Jane Eyre, books by one of George’s favorites, Thomas Hardy, and loads of other authors/novels. Needless to say, I was particularly interested in which novel and movie adaptation would hold the coveted spot in the library.

(keep reading to find out 😉)

George Vanderbilt loved literature and even brought some of his favorite authors to stay on his estate – Thomas Hardy visited and Edith Wharton was a fairly frequent guest. The two-level library houses over 22,000 books. He began acquiring books at the age of 11 and even when visitors would tour the family’s mansion in New York, many marveled at the amazing collection George displayed.

18516239_10213024007175565_1087126671_nBecause he cared so much about his guests, he’d often find out what they’re reading-interests were and have their books on display, ready for the picking on the ornate book rack, when they arrived. One of my favorite parts of the library, which also shows George’s consideration for his guests’ access to books, is a ‘secret’ passage behind the mantle that leads directly to the bedrooms of the second floor. I use this little passage in my work-in-progress.

18575616_10213024005495523_1635596850_oA little about this beautiful library: The ceiling kind of pulls your attention as soon as you enter the room from Tapestry Room. Covered in an Italian painting known as The Chariot of Aurora, the vibrant colors accent the deep reds and glossy woods George chose for the library’s furnishings. George purchased the painting, which hung in Pisani Palace in Venice, and had it shipped in 13 sections to be reconstructed for his library.

One feature of the library, which is particularly interesting (besides the BOOKS, of course), is an ivory chess set owned by Napoleon Bonaparte during his exile on St. Helena.

18518507_10213024008215591_829387885_nSo…which novel and movie adaptation did they have on display in the library for the Designed for Drama exhibit?

None other than the costumes for the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice (for those of you who need more clarification, I have one name: Colin Firth). Oh my, those costumes look so very nice in that gorgeous library.

If you could pick a favorite classic to have George set on the book rack for you to read, which novel would you request?