Sunday, April 6, 2014

"Oh, Kaye!" talks about what's in our own backyard

When we travel, we seek out things that interest us.

For some of us, that could be touring homes, or visiting art galleries, or hiking in a gorgeous area with our cameras.

And, we often, I think, overlook - or forget - that we can, in many cases, do a lot of that right in our own backyard.

Case in point - 

Donald and I discovered The Moses Cone Mansion when we first moved here.  And we were blown away.  Promised ourselves we would come back often.

Well, we didn't.  

We talked about it, but there was just never time.

Then, I did the best thing I've ever done.

I retired.

And I started rediscovering all the wonderful things we'd been overlooking.

And then I remind Donald what it was about these places we love.

And next thing you know, we're rediscovering them together again.  

And it's lovely.

I love beautiful old homes.  I love these North Carolina mountains, which I enjoy hiking in.  I love pretty things.

And I love taking photographs of all the above.

The Moses Cone Mansion has all of this and more, so it's a dream come true for me.

Come take a little virtual visit with me - - - (we're going to call it "research."  And actually, my visits here were, in fact, where I did a lot of my Whimsey dreaming, er . . . research).

   - - - this is an excerpt from an article on the Virtual Blue Ridge Parkway Tour -

As one of the most prevalent historic attractions on the Blue Ridge Parkway, The Moses H. Cone Memorial Park is "historic splendor at its finest". For this beautiful country estate we owe our gratitude to Moses H. Cone, a prosperous textile entrepreneur, conservationist, and philanthropist of the Gilded Age. Its centerpiece is Flat Top Manor, a gleaming white 23-room, 13,000 square foot mansion.

Moses and Bertha, who had no children, rejoiced in their estate and their mountain home named Flat Top Manor in honor of nearby Flat Top Mountain. The mansion is a "wonderful example of Colonial Revival construction boasting large white columns, elegant leaded glass windows and mysterious dormers high atop the house". Building the mansion with gaslights, telephone and a central heating system was no easy task. Building materials and fine furnishings were hauled by wagon from the railhead in Lenoir, located 20 miles away. In its heyday, visitors included government leaders, business associates, local dignitaries, and visiting relatives. Among these visitors were Moses' art collecting sisters, Etta and Dr. Claribel Cone, whose premier collection of works by friends Henry Matisse, Pablo Picasso and other European artists, is now housed in the Cone wing of the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Moses died at the age of 51 in 1908. Bertha resided at and actively managed the estate for another 39 years until her death. The graves of both overlook a meadow below the summit of Flat Top Mountain.

With Bertha's death in 1947, the estate passed to the Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro. Two years later, the hospital board donated the property to the National Park Service, with the understanding that it would be known as The Moses H. Cone Memorial Park and managed as a part of the Blue Ridge Parkway, a unit of the National Park System.

(wave at Donald!)

The manor is now home to the Parkway Craft Center, a craft shop of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, exhibiting and selling works by artisans from nine Appalachian states. Mediums represented range from baskets and woodcarvings to quilts and ironwork. The bookstore carries trail maps, brochures, nature books and guidebooks.

Besides being full of beautiful work by local artists and artisans, the architectural detail is exquisite.

Some of the art is pure whimsy.

Some, quite elegant. 

There's lots of art glass, stained glass, sculpture, weaving, quilts and pottery.

Often, during nice weather, you're able to happen upon someone sitting on the front veranda demonstrating their craft.  We've watched a spinner, a weaver, and a dulcimer maker.

I hope you enjoyed our visit!

Now, tell me, Reds, what's a favorite spot for you that happens to be right in your own back yard?


  1. What a spectacular tour, Kaye . . . thank you!
    Favorite places in our back yard? One of them would be Barnegat Lighthouse State Park where the red and white lighthouse, second tallest in the United States, stands at the northern tip of Long Beach Island.

  2. What a gorgeous house! And, I loved all the artisan items you shared with us. Your picture was great, too. Thanks for a lovely Sunday trip.

    Backyard places for me would be Mammoth Cave National Park, a U.S. National Park in Kentucky, encompassing portions of Mammoth Cave, the longest cave system known in the world. The tours are fascinating, but I'm not crazy about being underground for too long.

  3. Wow-- that porch reminds me of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

    My favorite place around here? Did you ever see the movie "Silent Running" with Bruce Dern? You can get a glimpse of its domed environments (in outer space) in this trailer:

    We have the real thing here in Milwaukee: the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory with its three beehive-shaped glass domes, each with its own environment. One is tropical, another is a blooming desert, and the third is their show dome which changes with the seasons.

    In the middle of the worst kind of winter weather, you can go to "The Domes" and wander through a steamy tropical forest, or a warm, dry desert, or perhaps a display of tulips and hyacinths. Couples have their wedding pictures taken at The Domes, and one of my friends was actually married there (you can rent them after normal hours).

    Those of us from Milwaukee saw the dome-covered environments of "Silent Running" as just an extrapolation from what we already have (and treasure).

  4. That's stunning! The house, the view, the crafts. Lovely. Thanks for sharing it.

    My favorite place is about 2 hours away but we go as often as possible (advantages of retirement) - Acadia National Park. Situated on the rocky Maine coast, it is my ideal place to see beauty. We love to walk on the carriage trails or the ocean trails, sit on rocks and watch the crashing of the waves, or picnic next to the ocean. It's the most relaxing, beautiful place I know.

  5. What a lovely post, Kaye!

    One of my favorite places in NYC is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden — during any time of year, but cherry blossom season especially....

  6. Joan, I've been up the Barnegat Lighthouse many times--such a beautiful spot.

    But all these suggestions are wonderful! Thanks for starting us off Kaye...

    In Key West, we live close to the Customs House museum but we don't always remember to go. Recently they had an exhibit of the paintings of Tennessee Williams, who lived here for a while. Upstairs, they have a lovely collection of the paintings of folk artist Mario Sanchez, along with an exhibit about the Flagler railroad.

  7. Fun and lovely spots you all have mentioned! and I have not been to a single one, which is a terrible thing, really.

    You have each mentioned things Donald and I would seek out if we knew of them when in the area. We're both lovers of museums and gardens. I don't think we've ever passed near a lighthouse without taking a beezillion photos.

    Donald is a fan of caves, but I am not. I do remember my parents taking me to Luray Caverns when I was little. My mom says when we left I said it was interesting but I'd rather not do that again.

    Marianne, a former boss used to visit Acadia every year. After he retired, he and his wife moved to Maine and have never been happier.

    Ellen, the domes sound fascinating! I did not see the movie, but what a brilliant story premise.

    The Moses Cone house is closed (as is the Blue Ridge Parkway) during the winter months, but it has just reopened. Me and my camera will be heading back very soon.

  8. Kaye, dear, thanks so much for the tour! What a lovely place. I haven't been to North Carolina since I was thirteen, but loved it so much then that I begged my parents to move there!

    Favorite places in my own back yard? Hmm. Nothing for me beats my own historic neighborhood in McKinney, looking at the wonderful houses and huge old trees (now leafing out, thank goodness), walking around the town square and browsing in the shops, sitting in a sidewalk cafe...

    If I have to go father afield, Dallas, oh, my, so many things I don't do often enough. The Dallas Arboretum, the Dallas Museum of Art, The Meyerson Symphony hall (stunning), and then there's the funky restored Belmont Hotel, which was one of the first motor courts in the country. From there you have a perfect view of the Dallas skyline, which I adore. The list is endless, and we haven't even touched Fort Worth! Museums, Bass Hall (a gorgeous chocolate box of a concert hall), and the Japanese Garden in the Fort Worth Botanical Garden.

    Sigh. Too many places, not enough time. But thanks for the reminder to get out and enjoy!

  9. PS We have a wonderful restored house/museum right here in McKinney, just off the square. Here's a peek:

  10. Debs, McKinney sounds like my kind of town, and the Heard-Craig house is wonderful!

  11. Your tour was wonderful, and I loved the pictures-of the house and the arts. Your little peace of Whimsy belongs in your house. My favorite place of peace is Yosemite National park. I live about four hours from there, and have gone on several vacations there. To me, it is truly a magical place. One can choose to be with the "tourists," of which I am one :) or you can walk for 5 minutes and belong totally alone in a marvelous forest. When I need an uplift, I have the ocean right here to make things better. I am really very lucky. But
    all of you mentioned places that I wouldn't mind seeing.

  12. Lil, you are so lucky. I miss living on the water so much it actually hurts my heart sometimes. I have never been to Yosemite, but it is definitely on our list! We've actually starting talking about a travel camper of some sort when Donald retires. Something I never thought I'd even consider just a couple years ago.

  13. Living on Cape Cod gives me a long list of local attractions -- I saw the sunset last night at the Cape Cod Canal. In my little town of Falmouth, we have lovely historic buildings, one I love is Highfield Hall.

    The N. Carolina mountains and the Smokeys are both on my "bucket list." Thanks for the tour.

  14. oh, Denise Ann, I love Cape Cod.

    It's where we spent part of our honeymoon.

    Also love Cape Ann, and all of Boston.

    Donald's family is from that area - he was born in West Newton - and there are still Barley's to be found in and around the area (including the Cape).

  15. Kaye,I thought I was strictly a lake and ocean beach person, and then I attended a convention of commissioners on the status of women at Jackson Hole some 35 years ago, and discovered I am also a mountain and river person. Who knew?

  16. Ellen, how 'bout that?

    I have to admit, I do love this little mountain town we live in. It's gorgeous. But if life were really fair, we could live here part-time and at the beach part-time. ahhhhh, now that would be the life!! :-)

  17. Kaye, this is SPECTACULAR! I love this! Tank you! We are all often so busy that we don't; realize the joys near home--and you have proved this with a wow!

    Yes, I still can't get over thatI live near water--they just don't have oceans in Indianapolis! But I've never walked the whole Freedom Trail, which is so silly--and now you've (as always inspired me!)

    Waving back! xoo

  18. I waved at Donald, but he didn't wave back.....hey, got interviewed by Library Journal for a fall issue this week and they asked me about blogs I liked and of course I said Jungle Red Writers--let's see if it makes the final article :) Lovely tour, Kaye, much appreciated!

  19. oh, Hank, there are so many wonderful places to be found in Boston. I love it more than I can say. And if I know you, you'll get around to the entire Freedom Trail, I know you will. xxoo

    WendySis! Did you give Jungle Red a loud and proud shout out?! Well, of course you did!!!! Thank you! And keep us posted as to whether it shows up in Library Journal or not (of course it will!).

  20. Wendy, so wonderful of you! Thank you!

  21. Kaye, I always enjoy the beautiful photos you post here and share on Facebook. I look forward to them every day. They create a feeling of home and love of beautiful surroundings.

    My favorite spot back home is in my old neighborhood in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Our neighbor across the street, Mr. Herreshoff, lived in a small castle at the edge of Crocker Park. I loved to walk over there and go swimming in the harbor. It was a favored spot of the kids who lived in old town especially when skipping school. You were invisible from the park if you sat on the rocks near the water. You could go undetected swimming or sitting on the wooden float. People would sail by sometimes. The police boat would patrol the area. No one came close enough to the float to see who you were. It's too bad Brunonia Barry didn't know this. She used to get caught, because she would go over to Devereux Beach, and the causeway where everyone would see you. [Sandy, you should have come to Crocker Park with us.] It was a place to go with your boyfriend or girlfriend. We watched the fireworks from there. You could sit and read or just eat a clam roll. It was a good place to be, alone or with friends.

  22. The Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum in the original restored Art Deco showroom and headquarters of the Auburn Automobile Company. One of the factory buildings behind it now houses the National Auomotive and Truck Museum. It has "newer" cars and 50s era things like an old diner.
    Really neat beautiful stuff.
    The ACD Club has their Reunion here every year on Labor Day weekend. 200+ of these beautiful rolling sculptures driving around town. There's a parade and afterward they park on the courthouse square and you can see them up close.
    Oops. Guess I got a bit carried away. ;)

  23. Joan Emerson mentioned Barnegat Lighthouse. My mother & I spent a lovely afternoon on the beach there, in l953. She just lived three years after that, so it is a special memory that I bring back of a very happy day.

  24. My favorite back yard historic place is actual two places located in New Hampshire; The Castle in the Clouds in Moultonboro, NH and the Fells in Newbury, NH.