This time of year turns our thoughts to travel. And when we travel, one of our favorite things to do is tour historic homes. A home tour never fails to inspire us with new décor ideas. If your tastes run toward the historic, here are five old homes guaranteed to make you want to work on yours.
Cairnwood Estate, Bryn Athyn, PA
For a little bit of France in Pennsylvania, visit Cairnwood Estate. This faux French chateau was built from 1892 – 1895, the brainchild of architect Thomas Hastings. The Pitcairn family, who owned the estate, chose to go big. Whether they were hosting fellow church members or school pupils, they loved to entertain. The house’s most striking feature was a family chapel housed high in an octagonal tower. No doubt it was the most impressive house in Bryn Athyn, PA in its heyday. Visitors can take a public tour. Or, if you have something really special in mind, rent out Cairnwood for your private event.
Pittock Mansion, Portland, OR
If your travels take you to the Northwest this summer, don’t miss the Pittock Mansion. Built in 1914, this 22-room mansion belonged to Henry Pittock, who published the Oregonian newspaper. The huge house is impressive, and the views of Portland even more so. If you still want to know more after taking the public tour, sign on for the 45-minute behind the scenes tour. You’ll venture into Pittock’s private den and the servants’ quarters. Those who don’t make it to Portland this summer should consider a holiday trip. The mansion is especially stunning when decorated for Christmas.
Kylemore Abbey, western Ireland
West Ireland’s most-visited attraction originally housed a private family, then later became a school and then a convent. The house is beautifully restored, and the Victorian walled gardens are perfection. We appreciate the leaded glass and the stenciled wallpaper. But we really love the mantels. The drawing room has a white marble fireplace carved with female figures, while another room features a mantel carved from the black stone of Kilkenny.
Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, Key West, Florida
The Ernest Hemingway House attracts beachy folks, literature lovers and cat fanatics to Key West. Hemingway and his wife Pauline restored the 1851 Spanish Colonial home in the 1930s. They built Key West’s first in-ground pool, extravagantly paying $20,000 for its construction. Many of Hemingway’s personal possessions and furnishings still grace the house, while descendants of his six-toed cats fill the garden.
Photo Courtesy on Flickr
Molly Brown House Museum, Denver, Colorado
Famous Titanic survivor Molly Brown made her home in Denver after that unforgettable voyage. In 1970, historic preservationists helped her home survive the wrecking ball and returned it to its Victorian splendor. In addition to the home itself – often called “the house of lions” because of the stone guardians out front – visitors come to see exhibitions of furniture, glassware, and personal effects such as Molly Brown’s ruby earrings.
Every big city and most small cities, too, feature historic homes to tour. Why not soak up some historic décor on your summer travels? And if you get inspired to upgrade your mantel when you come home, give your friends at Old World Stoneworks a call.