Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Original pieces return to the Belmont Mansion

Thanks to Adelicia Acklen's great-great granddaughter, Elise Quigley of Sacramento, California, this has been an exciting month for the Belmont Mansion…

If you've not heard of the Belmont Mansion in Nashville, TN, it's the home of Adelicia Acklen, the richest woman in America in the 1860s. And a woman that I, admittedly, have grown to love and respect over the past few years.

I've spent countless hours researching family files, spending time in her home, walking where she walked, reading her letters, and delving into her life as I prepared to write the Belmont Mansion novels.*

Adelicia's gorgeous Southern home, originally named Belle Monte, is the setting for A Lasting Impression and A Beauty So Rare (April 2014), the first and second Belmont Mansion novels in the 3-book series. 

And now, what's old is new (to the mansion) again…

Elise Quigley, Adelicia's great-great granddaughter, has generously seen fit to return two items that belonged to Adelicia––an unusual silver coffee pot and a leather covered box.

Elise Quigley holding two original pieces that belonged to Adelicia

As noted in the latest newsletter from the Belmont Mansion… 

"The silver coffee pot is of monumental size, standing 13 inches tall. Manufactured by Gotham of New York City, the pot represents a renewed interest in classical details during the post-civil War period, as exhibited in the Neo-Grec design. Gorham retailed a number of their products at Tiffany's. As the premier silver manufacturer of the 1860s, all their offerings were quite popular. The Acklen family name is engraved on the face of the pot, just below the bas-relief profile of a woman.

Adelicia likely purchased this piece as part of a larger set on her return from her grand tour of Europe in 1866. The coffee pot would have been used for formal occasions in either the Dining Room or the Central Parlor. A tea pot, footed tray, creamer, and sugar bowl would have completed this formal service. Currently, the coffee pot can be viewed through the Dish Pantry window. Imagine, if Adelicia had seven sets of china, how many sets of silver do you think she kept?

Adelicia's letterbox is of American manufacture with tooled leather applied to a white pine base, brass strapwork in the English Renaissance style and dates from the mid-1850s. A monogrammed brass shield with the letters "AA" is located in the center of the lid. The box can be opened to reveal a slanted writing space, a compartment for paper, ink pens, envelopes, and two holes for ink wells. Adelicia's letterbox can now be seen on the ladies secretary in the Tête-à-Tête Room."

I haven't seen these items in person yet but can hardly wait to get to the mansion again. And you can bet both of these items will be in the third Belmont novel. But tell me…

What's something special you would like to see tucked inside Adelicia's letterbox in the third Belmont novel? If I use your idea, I'll give you full credit in the Author's Note at the end of the novel.

Blessings on your Tuesday,

* When I wrote about studying Adelicia's life and home above, it reminded me of how excited I am to be in BSF again––studying the life and ministry of Jesus.

We're studying the book of Matthew this year. If you're in BSF, give a shout out. I'd love to know we have that common. If you're not, check out BSF here and see if it's something you'd be interested in. It's a life-changing study. And this Wednesday is a Welcome Day! So feel free to go and check it out.

Last day to enter for Colorado Romance
and Rocky Mountain Chocolate


  1. I think there should be some sheets of music tucked somewhere inside (in honor of Nashville being "Music City" and Belmont University being a fantastic music school) and something mysterious should be scrawled on the back of one of the pages, such as a cypher, riddle or map, or obscure note of uncertain origin.

    Lisa Ann
    Redwood City, CA

    1. Great idea, Lisa Ann! Very creative. Love the map idea. Hmmmm..... : ) Thanks for sharing.

    2. The map was my first thought! But not knowing what the story line is I decided to offer a few options. I will anxiously await finding out what is inside the box. :)

      Lisa Ann

  2. Hmm! This is fun but I can't think of anything super creative!!! A special letter would be the most obvious, but what if she kept a pressed flower given to her by a previous spouse or one of her children? Or even a young suitor. OR she could keep a button from a civil war uniform from one of her husbands. Or! A small derringer, left over from post-war tensions. Or she lends it to the heroine for writing a certain someone (the love interest, a family member), one that Adelicia has counseled her on.

    1. Oh, the Derringer. Love that thought, mrsfaber. The mind is racing! : ) Thanks for playing along today! I love brainstorming!

  3. A bird feather. A pine cone. A torn piece from an old family Bible. A fabric scrap. A foreign dictionary. A list of...? An old invitation from the dance where she met her first husband. A family tree.

  4. A coin that is significant in some manner - perhaps one from her father.

    A letter from her sister Corinne. (I know in the novel she spoke instead of wrote the words you used from that letter, but that would still be cool if a letter Corinne wrote her around then were in the box.)

    Or one of the newspaper clippings about a ball - either the first one she gave at Belmont or perhaps the last one while her husband was alive.


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