Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.

Aiken-Rhett House, Charleston, S.C.

On our tour of the Charleston Museum Mile, we visited the Aiken-Rhett House.

This home was built in the 1820s and is an excellent example of town homes during this period.

This home was built by merchant John Robinson and later sold to William Aiken Sr., another merchant. Aiken’s son, William Aiken Jr., later became a U.S. representative and S.C. governor.

The Rhett name comes from Aiken Jr.’s daughter, Henrietta, and her husband, Major A.B. Rhett, who raised their family in the home. (History from the Historic Charleston Foundation’s website.)

Like many historic homes, we were not allowed to take photos inside. We did, however take photos of the courtyard, stable and other structures behind the house:

This is the back of the home.

One of two outhouses. Very elaborate for a toilet!

Courtyard behind the home.
Slave quarters is to the right, which includes a kitchen and rooms for the inside servants. 

Stable and carriage house across the courtyard from the slaves’ quarters.
I believe more slave quarters were above the stables, as well.

You should definitely make this one of the places to visit in Charleston. You can combine admission with the Nathaniel Russell House, which will be my next post.

Monticello and Mitchie Tavern, Charlottesville, Va.

On our way back from Richmond a couple months ago, we stopped by Monticello to stretch our legs. I really enjoyed visiting Thomas Jefferson’s old home place and learning about the property.

I wrote and won a DAR award with an essay about Thomas Jefferson in fifth grade, so I sort of hold a special place for him and his home in my heart, as corny as that may sound. It was really cool to visit a place I’d written and read about all those years ago.

Isn’t this place gorgeous? It has two large porches extending from each side of it.

Here’s the wine cellar and the dumbwaiter used to transport the bottles upstairs:

Here are more photos of the grounds:

Thomas Jefferson’s grave.

A big, old tree on the property.

Mulberry Row, where homes of slaves and trades workshops were located.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

If you visit Richmond, Va., I’d recommend checking out the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

The museum’s collections include art deco and art nouveau, English silver, Faberge, mid-to-late 20th century and 21st centuryAmerican art, African art and Ancient art. Here are some of the lovely pieces that we saw back in January:

Edgar Allan Poe Museum, Richmond, Va.

If you visit Richmond, make time to visit the Edgar Allan Poe Museum on East Main Street. It’s on the same street as the Main Street Station and the Farmer’s Market.

This is the front of the museum. It is a home from the era of Poe’s childhood, though not one he ever lived in or visited.

You’ll get to walk through several rooms with artifacts from Poe’s life in Richmond. He lived there early in his life before moving to Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and back to Richmond at various times throughout his adult life.

Poe’s mother, a traveling actress, died when he was 3 and John Allan, a wealthy merchant, and his wife, Frances Valentine Allan, took him in.

I really liked the portraits; original manuscripts, including those of Poe’s sister Rosalie; and the layout of Richmond during Poe’s lifetime, showing where he lived, went to school and worked.

You can’t take photos inside the rooms, but you can outside in the courtyard.

This bust of Poe sits under a shelter in the courtyard behind the main museum building. I’m not really sure why people have left coins for the dead poet.
Here’s the front and back side of the information you’re given for the self-guided tour. It also includes a map layout of the buildings and grounds.
Don’t know much about Edgar Allan Poe? Check out these books.

And you most definitely should read Poe’s work.

Bodies Revealed, Natural Science Center, Greensboro, N.C.

Since Chris had to work last night, he took me to see the Bodies Revealed exhibit at the Natural Science Center in Greensboro, N.C., for Valentine’s Day on Saturday.

This traveling exhibit displays several bodies and body parts that have gone through a process called polymer preservation. Besides showing the respiratory, circulatory, reproduction and other body systems, there are examples of organs with cancer, a diseased lung and organs that are enlarged for various reasons, such as infection. It may sound like a weird Valentine’s Day trip to you, but I loved it!
The exhibit is only at the center through March 6, so you’ve got a couple more weeks to visit and check it out. The museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Sunday and is located on Lawndale Drive in Greensboro.
There were a ton of people there to visit the museum and the exhibit. A coworker, who went Sunday, said a museum employee told her that 1,300 people visited on Saturday! The museum gave people tickets and allowed people into the exhibit in shifts.
We had the 12:30 time and had an hour to kill before we could enter, so we walked around the museum itself and the small zoo behind the building.
Downstairs are several science labs were kids can get their hands on some projects and experiments. I think most of the labs are held as classes and you have to register. When we were there, there were kids in the physics lab building with Legos. I couldn’t see what they were working on, but the kids were intently working together in small groups. Cute!
We peeked in the biology and herpetology labs and an aquatic area to look at the various creatures in aquariums and such. There were snakes, lizards, morays, turtles and fish.
A two-headed yellow-bellied slider turtle.
A moray, which is related to an eel.
A snake.
A hellbender, which is a salamander
Another snake; this time a rattler. I don’t know what’s with Chris’s obsession with snake pictures! 🙂
Outside in the zoo there are turkeys and peacocks wandering around the park, lorikeets, gibbons, lemurs, tigers and a petting farm with goats, burros and other animals.
Animals at the petting farm.
Lemurs!!! I wanted to pick one up and squeeze it! 🙂

Grave Creek Mound, Moundsville, W.Va.

On our trip to W. Va. we visited our friend’s work place — Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex.

Entrance of Grave Creek Mound, Moundsville, W.Va.

This is the site of a 70-foot Native American burial ground, a feature of the Adena culture. Our friend explained that Adena is usually considered a separate people or tribe, but it’s really a tradition or culture shared by several different tribes. It would take a conference and agreement by the archaeological community to change exhibits and info around the country, he said.

Some Adena artifacts.

We visited another such burial ground in Ohio — Serpent Mounds. Both included exhibits with similar information.

At Grave Creek we walked to the top of the mound and overlooked Moundsville.

View of Moundsville, W.Va., from atop the mound.

At the foot of the mound was a small interpretive garden showing how people of the Adena era would have grown their vegetables and what types. Tomatoes and other vines, for instance, would be grown beside corn so that the plants could use the corn stalks as supports, clinging to them and they grew.

Interpretive garden at Grave Creek Mound.

The mound has been used for very interesting purposes throughout the years. My favorites — (1) an observatory was once built on top of the mound and (2) a race track was built around the foot of the mound and audiences could watch from the top.

Our friend gave us a tour of the museum’s research facility and library. Very interesting work and probably an archaeologist’s dream.

Before leaving, I grabbed a do-it-yourself scrapbook of printed out activity pages for kids. One page was for autographs of museum staff. So I took one and had our friend sign it.

I’m threading together the pages of the scrapbook.

Chris and I also stopped by the gift shop and bought some worry stones for family members. Just small, sweet stocking stuffers for Christmas.

Also at the museum are two exhibits — Homer Laughlin China Company and Fashion Dolls by Pete Ballard, a West Virginia native.

Homer Laughlin is the owner and maker of Fiesta ware and other dishes. I even saw my own Shakespeare Country dishes displayed there! Very cool. The company has operated in the area over 100 years.

I loved walking around and reading about Pete Ballard’s fashion dolls. He worked for many years as a costume designer. His knowledge and skills are exquisite! I loved learning about the 19th century fashions. I could have spent all day walking from doll to doll, studying the different styles and fabrics. But though my husband is patient, he’s not that patient!

One of many fashion dolls created by Pete Ballard.

I tried to find a website with Pete’s work but wasn’t able to. It would have been great if the pamphlet accompanying the exhibit and explaining each of the dolls would have included photos. I wish I could find a book on Ballard too, but haven’t found one.

Other things to do in Moundsville:

* Visit the Marx Brothers Toy Museum. You will see a variety of toys that you probably played with as a kid, such as toy soldiers and Big Wheels (mine was yellow and green and featured Kermit the Frog). We didn’t have time to visit, but maybe we will next time.

* Fosteria Glass Factory Museum. The glassware is no longer made in Moundsville, but there is a museum dedicated to the company’s history and products. The town is in process of tearing down the old factory. A building or two will still remain, I think. But the town’s historic factory will no longer be there. It’s being developed into a multi-use retain center.

* There are a lot of locally-owned businesses in the town and they’re a delight to check out. I checked out A Yarn Among Friends and bought some yarn for Christmas projects.

* In a later post, I’ll write about our tour of the former West Virginia Penitentiary. It was a maximum security prison that was closed down in 1995.

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Old Salem, Winston-Salem, N.C.

Earlier this month, Chris and I met my parents and youngest brother in Old Salem (N.C.) for some visiting and walking around. You can find a map here.

Old Salem is an old Moravian village that’s now surrounded by the City of Winston (now called Winston-Salem). All middle school students in the area take a field trip to the village to learn history and sample some delicious Moravian cookies.

Moravian stars are a popular Christmas decoration through the region.

You can buy tickets at the museum to visit interpreters in trade shops and stores.

But if you don’t want to do that, there’s plenty to see on foot and you can visit the retail shops, such as the bakery, a tavern and a gift and garden shop.

Since it was a Monday and a holiday, the museum and interpretive sites were closed. So we walked around, snapping photos of the beautiful buildings and gardens. We ate lunch at Mayberry Soda Shoppe.

I think Dad, Chris and J.J. enjoyed discussing the various construction techniques and materials used in the old buildings.

Mom and I loved the bakery!

Before we went home, Chris and I stopped by the garden shop and bought some rosemary, tansy and a ornamental pepper plant.

I love rosemary and can’t wait to use it with garlic in mashed potatoes. Chris wanted tansy because it’s a colonial plant that colonists used to keep ants and other insects out of gardens.

The ornamental peppers were just cool looking. It has small, pebble-sized, purple peppers. It’s not for culinary use, but we thought they were pretty and got them anyway.

We’d also bought my mom a sensitive plant — a fern that folds up its leaves when you touch it — but it died after being left in direct sunlight. I guess it was really sensitive!

Here’s some pics: (All photos by E.A. Seagraves. Do not use without permission.)

I loved this house. The colors and look of it.

These chairs and table were on the porch of the house in the picture above. It looks so lovely here.

Peeking down some alleyways, you can see some backyards. A lot of the houses are private residences so you’re not free to roam around.

Want a carriage ride? We saw some visitors get in the buggy soon after I took this photo.

I love this door. There’s several of these doors around Old Salem.

Another house that I like.

And a shop.

Here’s a view of one of the tree-lined streets.

Want to learn more about Old Salem? Check out these books: