Straight on Through

Things in my head and now …. not

Night at The Mansion (Linden Hills, Little Falls)

Our Mansion tradition started 4 years ago when at an Authors Tea at the Linden Hills Conference Center I discovered we could actually stay over night in either of the two mansions we had toured.

The price was right – at that time, less than what you would pay for a hotel stay… and we got the whole mansion to ourselves!  4 floors of beautiful antiques, gorgeous bedrooms with all the original furniture in them, the main sitting area looked as though at one time it could hold ballroom dancing….  it was a true find.

So my friends Heidi, Sara, Cindy, and Ruth all went that first year with the brilliant idea to dress the time…. in other words.. formal gowns.   That first year we were probably there five minutes when we all giggled our way to our designated rooms to change.  We were like little girls playing dress up and we loved it.

And for the following two years, thats what it was – a time to get together and celebrate our friendship, and Christmas.  We loved to explore the rooms… admire the beauty of the furnishings and reminess about what it must have been like to actually live in these homes.  We would play board games and bring tons of food and eat in the formal dining room, (and eat and eat) and take tons of pictures in our gowns.  We have so many great pictures and memories from each of the years!

It was after our second year at the mansion that we had learned that we would be the last to stay in it as Little Falls was deciding to close it due to the expense of running it and it broke our hearts.  I cried that year, feeling that it was the last time I would sit by the fireplace, or sleep in one of the amazing rooms filled with memories of another time.  We were the last group to stay in the homes.

Then, after a year of its closing a rumor was circulating that the homes would reopen to the public.  I quickly got on the phone and connected with the new manager who knew of our dressing up (we had left a picture or two behind…) and loved that we wanted to come back.  We booked in January of 2008 and we were the first group back in the mansions.  It was like coming home.  That year, we each brought a friend to share this amazing experience and 10 of us this time dressed up and shared a great evening of laughter.

Now, this past Friday was our stay for 2009.   Four of the original five stayed in the mansion this year… but now, after being reopened for a year, things had changed.  The rooms now all had locks on them except the ones that we were staying in.  We no longer could explore the rooms and admire the beauty of the furniture, and read the journals of all who had stayed there before us.  The fourth floor was locked so you could not even have access to it.  To someone who had never stayed before, they would not know of the beautiful pictures on that floor… or that there were more bedrooms up there.  From the hallway you would probably just think it was a door to the attic.

When we inquired about these changes we were told that the board had made a decision to not give people full access of the mansion.  Things apparently were getting moved around and we heard that the heating of the mansion was incredibly expensive and having all those rooms open really added to that.

So, we understood… but having been there so many times before – we knew we were missing a piece of what we loved so much about staying at the mansion.  We discussed either we had to bring more people with us to open up more rooms, or maybe… just maybe… our season at the mansions had passed.

We enjoyed our evening – don’t get me wrong.  We still did what we loved to do – hang out, catch up, laugh, and eat.  Yet when the night was over, we had started discussing that maybe we change venues… look into a bed and breakfast, or change our theme and do something else entirely.

This time… I did not cry.  I feel so blessed to have been in the homes when they were open to explore.  I know you can tour the homes almost any time for $10, and that is always an option… but not the same as sitting in one of the rooms and taking it in with your friends.

So I am unsure what our future holds with the Mansions…. maybe it has run its course with us, and oddly, I am at peace with that.  Not saddened… but almost a little excited to see what adventure we will come up with next.

November 2009 update:  Alex Ames left some wonderful information here for you to understand more about the changes in the beautiful homes in Little Falls:

“I would like to take a moment to assure everyone who reads these entries that the volunteers at the non-profit Linden Hill will do everything in our power to make sure that your visit to the estate is everything that it can be. We devote ourselves to maintaining the beauty of the homes so important to the history of Little Falls and Minnesota and to guaranteeing that your stay is as pleasant as possible. We changed the way we handle some bookings so that we can actually hope to make a profit and thus keep the mansions open to the public for years to come. The volunteers and staff at Linden Hill are 100% devoted to preserving the historic integrity of the mansions and to working with guests to make sure that they enjoy their use of the homes. As a public organization, our commitment is to the communities we serve. Please feel free to reply to this comment with questions or concerns, and I will happily do my best to explain the reasoning behind Linden Hill’s operations guidelines”.

– You can see Alex’s full comments below in the comment section.  Thank you Alex for this information.

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January 13, 2009 Posted by | Just me, Life thoughts | 8 Comments