Thursday, October 23, 2008

In My Own Back Yard


*Please note that photos were not allowed in the house itself so all the photos of the inside of the home were taken from the web page for Lee Hall. The ones shown of the outside of the home and grounds are my personal photos and taken by me at the time of the visit. *

Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit the beautiful Lee Hall Mansion in Newport News VA.
Completed in 1859 it was the home of Richard Decauter Lee (No relation to Robert E .Lee),his wife Martha and their children.

Just three years after moving into the home they were forced to flee as the area became one of the first battlegrounds of the Civil War. The family went to stay with family in Richmond and the house was used as headquarters for Confederate Major General John B, Magruder and General Joseph E. Johnston. who directed the defense of the Peninsula against Major General George B. McClellan's advancing Union Army, and for three weeks delayed the Union advance.
In May of 1963 the Confederate Army was ordered to retreat and the area (The Peninsula of Virginia)fell under Union control until the end of the war.

Our tour consisted of the full basement and six of the upper rooms. Four on the main level and two of the bedrooms.

The hallway has a twelve foot ceiling decorated with an original plaster rosette
Also the staircase is orginial and thought to have been built by slaves.

Dinning Room
The dinning room was roped off but we could see the beautiful table serving and real marble,ornate fireplace

We were able to go into the Ladies Parlor where Mrs Lee would have entertained her lady friends. She would have used this area for both afternoon tea and also after dinner. The mantel of this fireplace was made of faux marble which was in fashion to use at this time and was more expensive than real marble Orginial pocket doors lead into the Gentlemens parlor

Gentlemen's Parlor
This is the gentlemen's parlor and it was used as the headquarters of Confederate Major General John Bankhead Magruder during the 1862 Peninsula Campaign. The table you see the gentleman at is the original used by General Magruder. It was set up the same way he left it when he left the home (reproductions of papers, notes and money)

In the Music Room
The pianoforte, shown in this photo is an original and although the web page said it came from a neighboring plantation our guide said it was a gift to Mrs. Lee from her former husband's (who had died) family. It remains in the house today. Also on display in the room (not shown in the photo) is a guitar that belonged to one of the confederate soldiers. He was later killed at Gettysburg.

On the upper level of the house we visited the Master Bedroom. The room has an original mantle, which is thought to have been made on the plantation, and an original closet. It also had a swing cradle. If I remember correctly Mrs. Lee had two small children prior to her marriage to Mr. Lee and then they had three or four more children, two of which were born during the Civil War.

And the Girls Bedroom

"Martha Lee's teenage half-sisters, Laura and Angie, used this bedroom. Young siblings, both girls and boys, often slept in the same room; however, older children of the planter class were typically placed in a room according to their gender. The girls' bedroom is decorated simply with painted walls and cotton curtains, however, it is a very light and pleasant room. As in the master bedroom, the girls' room features an original mantle and closet."

While we were in this room we were shown clothes like those worn in the in the 1860's
I was shocked when she showed me a pair of undergarments..Only one side was sewn. The crotch area was left open. The guide explained that this was the way they worn them due to the large hoop skirts. I had never really given any thought to how women went to the bathroom in those days, but now I know they just squatted down and went!

This next photo shows the orginial kitchen which is out in the back of the main house. The upper area would have been living quarters for the cook. Also the Lee family owned slaves who farmed things like corn and tabacco. There are no slave quarters remaining today, but you can see the Civil War fornifacations (ditches ) that were dug by the soliders.

Back of the house

Side of the house

Also while we were there I learned a bit more of the history of the Civil War in my area and I will be posting about it in my next post.
I hope you enjoyed taking this tour with me.

Labels: , ,


Blogger Linda said...

You are so fortunate to have this kind of history right in your own backyard! I definitely would like to check out more of your area as there's not just Civil War history but Revolutionary War history, too!

Thank you for the tour, the house looks lovely and it's so nice that it's preserved so well. What a gorgeous place inside and out!

October 24, 2008 at 10:41 AM  
Blogger Nydia said...

Thank you for the tour, Autumn, loved to learn more about something that was so new to me (and still is!). Every time I see photos, or I visite a place from another time, I imagine how things were back then, and I imagine the people who lived there walking around living their lives, looking out through the windows, etc. It's incredible.

Kisses from Nydia.

October 24, 2008 at 11:59 AM  
Blogger peppylady said...

I keep thinking about how much more history you have back east.
I love old mansion always wanted to live in one but now I don't because of the cleaning.

Coffee is on.

October 24, 2008 at 4:22 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home