A Southern Lady
As I’ve stated before, I love old homes. But this one is my all time favorite. It’s what sparked my passion for old buildings, history, and photography when I was just a child. Her name is Bell Grove.
As a Christmas present one year, my mother bought me a book called Ghost along the Mississippi. I would sit for hours reading and looking at the pictures taken by Clarence Laughlin of her. Even in decay and despair, she was an absolute beauty to behold; fine lines, graceful carvings, just the shear massiveness of her mixed with such sadness and longing.
I used to pretend that I would be her savior. Clearly, I was unaware of the massive price tag or undertaking to accomplish such a project. But when you are eight years old, none of that matters.
I would dream of times gone by and wonder about her former owners. What was it like to run across her marble-laden floors barefooted? Was it fun as a child to make faces in the silver door knobs or slide down her spiral staircase banister? Or better yet, what was it like to dance the night away in her enormous ball room, dressed to the hilt in fine evening ware? Oh what a treat it must have been, to gaze out onto the mighty Mississippi river over the tops of the moss-draped oaks and watch the sun set.
Sadly, as it always did, all of this would come to a crashing halt when I would read the last few sentences of the article. She had been burned to the ground long before I ever came to be. Those words never failed to make me cry. I would wipe my eyes and close the book, saving the sad, breathtaking pictures of her for another day.
I stumbled across this book just recently as we prepared our house to be put on the market…again. Glee and goose bumps flooded over me as I dropped everything and quickly tore open the book to the well worn pages showing the beauty. Just for a fleeting moment, I was eight years old again; It was just like old times. Only this time my childhood wonderment was now tainted with adult rationality, and I smiled. Such is the way of things…