This past Friday I had the pleasure of having lunch with Mark Brown, the Executive Director of the Belmont Mansion who's in his 26th year as curator. Mark not only knows everything about the Belmont Mansion and Adelicia Acklen, he's also a fabulous guy. I couldn't write these Belmont Mansion novels that include such detailed history about the house and all the Acklen happenings without his assistance. He's been invaluable.
|With Mark Brown at Belmont Mansion, Nashville, TN|
|With Linda about to go "down under"|
Well… Friday he and I went spelunking, of sorts, with another good friend (and docent) from the mansion, Linda Patrick. We walked the distance from the mansion down to the water tower (that still stands today, pictured below), to where the conservatory stood in Adelicia's day (circa 1850), then went underground into what was the "furnace room" underneath the main section of the greenhouse.
The next series of photos are from the furnace room down below...
Notice the arches throughout the construction down here. These served as a support to the brick floors just above in the conservatory itself. There were cast iron stoves down here, and it was the responsibility of the undergardener's assistants to tend these fires round the clock during cold months. The conservatory had grates in the floor and the hot air would rise and warm the plants.
They also stored bulbs down here, which you can imagine the damp and cool down here was perfect for that.
The original stairs leading down and back up.
You can bet there will be scenes from this room in Belmont Book 2!
Mark speculates that this archway probably led into another underground room just beyond the room we were standing in.
The water tower (in Adelicia's day) still stands, but is a bell tower now. There's a Prayer Chapel in the bottom room that's open to students. More pics of the Bell Tower next week.
I love writing historical fiction and especially love researching the history for these Southern novels. I could easily get lost in the research alone. Speaking of, I've got another video vignette from the Belle Meade Plantation, the setting of To Whisper Her Name, that I'd like to share with you. It's entitled Victorian Life at Belle Meade Plantation...
To Whisper Her Name releases in a month and I'm so excited to share this story with you! Remember, if you're in or around the Nashville area, you're invited to Belle Meade Plantation on Saturday, November 10 for the Launch Booksigning (1-3PM) for To Whisper Her Name.
So tell me, besides the constraints of corsets and hoop skirts, what would have been the most challenging obstacle for you if you'd been a woman living in the Victorian era? I can tell you what mine would have been… Same as Judy's! My mouth. : O
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