Victorian Age: Nice To Visit–But I wouldn’t Want To “Live” There

BELVEDERE MANSION, GALENA, ILLINOIS

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.”

About Sharon L. Clemens

Sharon and husband Merle and their children owned and operated a specialty shop and restaurant in a restored dairy barn for thirteen years in a village in Illinois. After closing their restaurant, they converted the barn into the family home and moved their shop to the garden level. They operated a collectable shop as a home-based business for another thirteen years before retiring to the country life. Sharon has been a special feature guest on the local NBC telelvision affiliate and has spoken professionally on topics relating to herb gardening and cottage lifestyle. In addition to conducting workshops and programs, Sharon writes a weekly cottage lifestyle e-newsletter called “Cottage Chat” and a Word Press blog: Seasons of Farm Grove. She has written five novels, The Younger Girl, Door County Cottage, Timeless-A Door County Love Story, Door County Cabin and Door County Escape, love stories with traditional values set in Door County, Wisconsin.
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