Friday, May 25, 2012

Salisbury House

When we checked into the campground on the Iowa Sate Fairgrounds on Monday we were informed that if we were planning on leaving Wednesday, to check out early because President Obama was having a campaign rally later that day here on the fairgrounds. We extended for one more day, just for the chance of seeing him. And I thought that going to the rally would be my big story of the day for Wednesday, until we toured the Salisbury House. In 1921 while visiting Salisbury,  England  Carl Weeks first saw "The King's House".  It was a manor house used by British royalty dating to the 13th century. Edith and Carl Weeks knew immediately it would be the model for their new home in Des Moines. In 1926 construction was completed on the 28,000 square foot, 42-room, four story house. The Tudor-style mansion features Gothic porches, a Carolean-style brick addition, 16th century floors and ceilings, paneling and fireplaces. The exterior consists of Indiana limestone, English flint and re-used paving bricks. I have here two pictures which show the building's different architectural styles.
We started our tour on the north side of the Great Hall. The balcony above the Great Hall offers a good view of the half-timbered, wood-beam Tudor ceiling. The railing is from a church in England. The wooden statues, seen in the picture below, were carved in Germany during the 1500s.
The house is advertised as "six centuries of stories under one roof". The Weeks traveled around the world and amassed a great collection of rare and varied pieces of art and history, which can be seen through-out the house in furniture, wall panelings, tapestries, paintings and artifacts. John and I initially toured the first two floors on our own, after that we went on a guided tour to see the nooks and crannies of the mansion. The fourth floor, which at one time had many guest bedrooms, now is one big room of paintings and artifacts which as yet have to be displayed. Here there is also a scrapbook of rare documents, antique weapons collection and South American shrunken heads- that is just to mention only a few of the treasures which were shown to us. Needless to say, the Weeks were quite wealthy- Carl was a pioneer in the cosmetic's industry and owned Armand Cosmetics Company. They moved out of the house in 1954. After touring the home we returned to the fairgrounds, and joined the crush of people waiting to see President Obama.  A storm came up while we were waiting (we had returned our umbrellas to the car because we were informed that they would be confiscated as they were security risks). Fortunately the crowds were moved to a large exhibition hall to get out of the rain. After that we waited a couple of more hours standing in line and listening to several political speeches before the main event.  It was painful, but I am satisfied that I at least saw in person one president in my lifetime. Also, Barack Obama is one president whom I do admire.

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