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.

Advertisements

January 13, 2009 - Posted by | Just me, Life thoughts

8 Comments

  1. […] Night at the Mansion […]

    Pingback by Blogoversary Party Here on Wednesday – You are Invited! « Straight on Through | July 5, 2009

  2. We too stayed in the house 4 or 5 years ago when we had access to the whole mansion. What a treat it was. The rooms were amazing, the history unbelievable. I have wanted to go back ever since. It’s sad to hear that so much has changed. I enjoyed reading your take on the experience and wanted to let you know that our group (of about 10) enjoyed it all the same.
    My favorite memory, if you dont mind me sharing, was the letters we found in the drawers in the music room… did you find them and read them? Its been so long, I don’t remember everything, but I do remember feeling a part of history at that moment.
    Regards,
    Karen

    Comment by Karen | August 26, 2009

    • H Karen,

      Thanks for your comments we did read the letters. Were they not amazing? I think the music room is my favorite room. We always agthered there to exchange gifts. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

      Comment by Bookjourney | August 26, 2009

  3. Thank you for sharing your comments about the changes that have taken place at Linden Hill in Little Falls. I would like to take a few moments to place the recent changes that have taken place at Linden Hill in some context. As one of approximately 100 dedicated volunteers at Linden Hill, I feel that I can offer some insights into the new policies that you noticed.

    First and foremost, it must be pointed out that Linden Hill is a non-profit corporation that, except for the dedicated service of a single employee who arranges bookings, represents the organization and manages finances, is 100% volunteer- maintained. Our financial resources are extremely limited, and we have limited paid staff time to prepare for guests and provide maid service after they leave. Everything from lawn care on the ten-acre estate to the maid service that cleans the rooms and changes the sheets after guests stay at the mansions is donated time. That said, the mansions are by no means cheap to keep open to the public. Appraised at a value of approximately $3 million in the early 1990s (thus certainly more today), Linden Hill cost $77, 316.78 to keep open last year. Our income was $69,062, meaning that Linden Hill for the first time in its public history has come close to breaking even. The reason for this is because of the changes that were initiated by the Friends of Linden Hill Board of Directors. Simply put, the income that Linden Hill receives from rental must exceed the expenses (of both money and staff/volunteer time) that we incur to make the mansions available for group use. We have realized that it does not pay to keep the mansions open for small group rental at all times, and then to heat the entire mansion to keep the whole house available for rental. If you can imagine, Linden Hill’s utilities expenses were $15,300.00 last year. This is why we have to be conservative with our use of the mansions.

    While I understand that it must have been disappointing to notice the great changes upon your return visit, keep in mind that for a cost much less than staying at a nice hotel, you had access to literally thousands of square feet of historic living space. At hotels or even beds and breakfasts, do we expect to pay $100 and have access to every room in the entire building?

    Linden Hill is not a company. It is classified by the IRS as a public charity. Linden Hill is built on public service and, while we may not be able to meet every person’s precise desires, the policies under which the historic site operates are designed to guarantee the sustainability of the estate. I ask that, when you consider your opinions regarding the operation of the estate, you keep in mind the financial and practical realities under which we operate.

    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.

    Comment by Alex Ames | November 11, 2009

    • Thank you Alex, I appreciate your comments on this. I wrote this almost a year ago when we stayed there. We love the Little Falls mansions and they have been a part of our lives for many years and we have fond memories. I understand it is very expensive to keep them open. Thank you again for your words. I am prayerful that people are able to enjoy the mansions for many years to come.

      Comment by Bookjourney | November 11, 2009

    • Hi Alex,

      I also have had the joy of the Linden Hill overnight experience, both before the new policy changes and after. I do understand the changes but do have one suggestion that could perhaps help to integrate the old experience with the new. If it would be at all possible to add a tour of the homes with the overnight package so that people can get the whole experience. It could be a quick tour upon arrival or even a tour in the morning before departure.

      Comment by Sara Moe | November 14, 2009

  4. Thank you for this suggestion, Sara. I will be sure to mention it the next time I am at Linden Hill. I agree that it would be a good idea to do a more thorough job of integrating information relating to the history of the home into the basic overnight rental experience.

    Comment by Alex Ames | November 15, 2009

  5. That sounds great fun.

    Comment by http://welshmansions.blogspot.com/ | February 21, 2010


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: