Experiencing the Victorian Age, vicariously, we toured the Belvedere Mansion in Galena, Illinois. Quite impressive, isn’t it. I enjoyed seeing the antiques, oil paintings, antique china, silver, crystal and furniture. I imagined the ladies in the sitting room after dinner drinking tea while the gentlemen smoked cigars and drank brandy in the adjoining, but separate, Victorian “man cave.” Our tour guide mentioned this home was especially fortunate to have water closets, the turn-of-the-century name for indoor plumbing. The convenience of water was made possible by the artesian well on the property, so powerful it was able to pipe water even into the upper floors.
At that point, the crushing reality of living in such a gilded age became apparent. I take my three bathrooms and running water quite for granted. The electricity is also a modern amenity I expect, but oh how I miss it when the power goes out. Candles, fire places and oil lamps are a poor substitute, even though in hind sight they could be called romantic.
We enjoyed a glimpse into the Victorian Age when ladies wore long, full-skirted dresses and sat on verandas; but I wouldn’t want to live in that time period. I’m happy in my summer Capri pants, shirt and sandals. Our guide showed us a pulley that opened a transom on the tall cupola, allowing air to flow through the house. I prefer air-conditioning…and heating. Yes, I’m a modern spoiled lady. But then, it’s all relative. When our grandchildren are grown, they will think we lived in “the good old days.”