Monday, July 15, 2013

Mansion on the Hill

The Woodbury house has always greeted people coming into my hometown, Anoka, Minnesota. Built in 1858 (on a hill overlooking the Rum River) in its heyday it was the center of local society with several large rooms designed for entertaining. It was featured on his year's annual house tour and the "grand old lady" proved she can still command attention. It was a bittersweet celebration, however, for the house has been vacant for years and is in need of a thorough "makeover": windows, walls, floors, heating, electrical—all need attention.

When the last owner lived there she was elderly and occupied that big house all by herself. She was in attendance for the house tour and described finding homeless people sleeping in the screen porch. After several such incidents her children insisted she move.

The city owns the property and its sizable acreage. There is talk of a B&B or restaurant going in, but at this stage it's just talk.

Walking through the empty rooms, I couldn't help but sense the ghosts of past ball still lingering, and I could almost hear the tinkle of cocktail glasses amid the sounds of laughter and conversation.

This paneled "den" featured a small pulpit overlooking the room, perhaps used for sermons addressing an assembled congregation? This room also had an adjoining wet-bar, no doubt for storing "communion" supplies.

I left the mansion with a strong sense of melancholy, a feeling which brought to mind the words of this old country ballad:

Tonight down here in the valley
I'm lonesome and oh how I feel
As I sit here alone in my cabin
I can see your mansion on the hill

Do you recall when we parted
The story to me you revealed
You said you could live without loving
In your loveless mansion on the hill

I've waited all through the years love
To give you a heart true and real
Cause I know you're living in sorrow
In your loveless mansion on the hill

The light shines bright from your window
The trees stand so silent and still
I know you're alone with your pride dear
In your loveless mansion on the hill

~ Hank Williams

By Professor Batty


Blogger Jono said...

It is very strange when I know just how Hank feels.

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