This week Cee gave us the choice of houses or barns for the Fun Foto Challenge and although I have several pictures of barns, houses won the day and here’s why. Very often, when we go on our travels around the ‘burbs and further afield, we like to visit old houses. Sometimes we’re able to take a tour inside, other times we just gaze at them from afar. Many of these houses have been acquired by local historical societies, while some remain privately owned. Sometimes there are admission fees, ranging from just a couple of dollars to large amounts which, in the case of the Biltmore Estate, have been well worth the expenditure. Here are just a few of those houses.
The Cuneo Mansion in Vernon Hills, Illinois, once owned by Samuel Insull, the original founder of the General Electric Company and later purchased by John Cuneo Sr, owner of Hawthorne Mellody Farms Dairy, the National Tea Company and the Cuneo Press, was gifted to Loyola University Chicago in 2009. Although we never took a tour of the house, Mum and I visited the estate several times just to walk around the gardens.
The Taylor House in Freeport, Illinois is home to the Stephenson County Historical Society. Built for lawyer and banker Oscar Taylor in 1857, it was opened as a museum in 1944. The house served as a ‘station’ for the Underground Railroad during the Civil War when fugitive slaves were hidden in the basement behind a secret door, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Known as The Little Orphan Annie House in Lombard, Illinois, this house was once home to the parents of Harold Gray the originator of the Little Orphan Annie cartoon strip. Gray worked in a studio there until he moved to the east coast. The house was originally built for Dr. William Leroy, who specialized in making artificial limbs for Civil War veterans, in 1881. As far as I know it’s not open to the public and we just stood and looked at it longingly from the sidewalk.
The house at Kline Creek Farm in West Chicago, DuPage County, is open to the public and historically-costumed interpreters present topics from baking in the kitchen to quilting and spring cleaning while giving tours of the farmstead.
Our most recent visit to a house with a rather murky past was in Duluth, Minnesota. Glensheen offers several different types of tours varying in price and we opted for the ‘Classic’ one-hour, three-floor one. It’s always interesting to see how the wealthy lived and, after reading something about its history, I was curious to take a peek inside this house that was built in 1908 for the family of Chester and Clara Congdon. According to Congdon’s will, his youngest daughter Elisabeth was allowed to live at Glensheen until her death. In 1977, an aging and frail Elisabeth, along with her nurse, were murdered here. The husband of Elisabeth’s adopted daughter, Marjorie, was convicted of the crime. Marjorie was accused of aiding and abetting and conspiracy to commit murder but was acquitted of all charges. The estate was eventually given to the University of Minnesota Duluth.
It will take you more than one day to fully explore the house and grounds at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. I can understand why the Vanderbilt’s visitors never wanted to leave. What luxury! Members of the Vanderbilt family still live here and have turned the estate into a flourishing business.
Some time ago we took a tour of the Oldfields-Lilley House and Gardens in Indianapolis. The weather was rather wet and gloomy and we didn’t really get to see the outside at its best so this is definitely somewhere I’d like to re-visit. Built in 1910, Oldfields was eventually given to the Art Association of Indianapolis and this National Historic Landmark is now a museum.
One of the many picturesque houses on Mackinac Island. No house tours on this trip but just fun looking at all the different styles and taking pictures.
For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to https://ceenphotography.com/2016/10/25/cees-fun-foto-challenge-houses-andor-barns/