Sunday, November 11, 2012

Traveling with my Shelia House Collection

Today I am taking you  on a trip across the country. We'll be visiting replicas of Historic houses. These charming houses actually line a shelf in my home but the real houses do exist. Maybe you've visited some of them.  The houses are from Shelia's Collectibles started by Shelia Thompson in 1979.  Most of my collection of 20+ houses are from the Victorian Springtime collection.  I just love these elegant and grand painted ladies.  I have houses from San Francisco, California, to Key West, Florida, and from Massachusetts to Galveston, Texas.


The houses we are visiting today are each made of solid wood. They are 3-D replicas of Historical houses from all over the country. Every piece is silk-screened with hand painted shrubbery, flowers and greenery. I think it was the beauty of the first little house I saw that caught my attention. 

The house I'm most excited about is the Dragon House. It's actually here in Denver. So our tour will start here. 
  

Here is the Shelia collectible you can compare with the real house above.


On the back of every Shelia house is a bit of history, information about the state, and Shelia Thompson's signature and date of release. 


Besides the extraordinary craftsmanship on each miniature house, if you look closely you will be able to find a hidden hand painted skeleton key symbol. This key can be tricky to find but it identifies that the little house is a genuine Shelia house. From Denver we're making a quick trip to the northeast so I can show you this key. I marked the key on the White Cottage, below, from Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts. This is a replica of Martha's Vineyard Camp Meeting Association. It was first opened on August 24, 1835. 


Below you can see the full view of White Cottage. In Oak Bluffs, there is a favorite tourist stop with over 300 of these gingerbread-trimmed and painted homes. I also have the Butterfly Cottage located in Oak Bluffs (not shown). This cottage colony must be a treat for the eyes.  I would  love to visit there. It's my kind of place. Next to the White Cottage below is the colorful Gibney Home in South Bend, Indiana. That is another quick jaunt for us on this tour. The Gibney Home was built in 1888 and its mauve color and green trim make it a striking piece. The gold doors and lace curtains make it a dream house worthy of a visit. 


I joined the Shelia's Collectors Society one year so I could purchase "The Three Sisters" Collection in honor of my two sisters.  A trip to Charleston, South Carolina, is our next stop to view these houses. Legend says that a father built these houses for his three daughters' dowry. The girls were said to be so ugly that he hoped these houses would help them catch a husband. The three girls, a blond, a brunette and a red-head never married but lived long happy lives in their houses. A less fanciful story is that the houses were called "The Three Sisters" because of their similar style and charm. Charleston is also the hometown of Shelia Collectibles where  skilled craftsmen carefully make each miniature . My girlfriend made a trip from Colorado to South Carolina and brought an empty suitcase so she could bring back houses. She has the most awesome collection that goes on and on. 


I think this yellow Queen Anne house is one of the prettiest in my collection. It's the Gilson Residence in Saratoga Springs, New York. Colonel Joseph Gilson built this  in 1885 as a summer home. This miniature was crafted for the 20th Anniversary commemoration of Shelia's Collectibles. This lovely house in New York is now a funeral parlor. How do you like zipping around the country so quickly?


From New York we'll travel down to Charlotte, North Carolina, to visit this house named Victoria. It's a surviving home from the 1890's fashionable residential district of Tryan Street. This home still stands today because it was moved and mule-hauled several miles to its present location. This house was built by a local businessman for his younger son with a complementing house built for his older son.  The older son's house was destroyed to make way for progress. This house claims to be one of the last survivors of Charlotte's nineteenth century past. You can easily see the key on the right glass pane of the front door. 


Last time I was in Mobile, Alabama, I didn't know to look up the Shepard House. Next trip, I will for sure. This 1897 house boasts 18 rooms and 11 fireplaces and four stained glass windows. It was a great house for lavish entertaining. The daughters of the owner used this house as a private boarding and day school in 1910. Prominent Mobile citizens were the students. It is believed that this house was brought in from Tennessee in thirteen railroad cars. Today the Shepard House is a Bed and Breakfast .    If you have a sharp eye you might spot the key. It's small but something that appears out of place. 


From Mobile, Alabama, it's a little under 200 miles to Reserve, Louisiana for a "wow" moment at the antebellum San Francisco Plantation. It is considered the most opulent Plantation in North America.  It is a National Historic Landmark. The home is famous for its fine painted ceilings and faux marbling and wood grains. It also has one of the finest antique collections in the country. It is visited annually by over 100,000 people. When I lived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, we drove by the plantation but didn't stop for a daily tour as bringing five children through such an exquisite place probably wasn't a good idea.  However, the centuries old live oaks surrounding the plantation made for a most pleasant drive-by. 


Moving along the coast line we arrive in Galveston, Texas, to view a beautiful, large red house that was originally called Heffron House. The round porches and unusual columns suggests the look of a steamboat. It is now called Victorian Inn and it operates as a Bed and Breakfast. The reviews on Trip Advisor are raving and after reading them a stay at Victorian Inn/Heffron House is now on my Bucket List.


Before we head back to the Midwest, a trip to the west coast is in order. San Francisco was the first location where the description "Painted Ladies" referring to the Victorian and Edwardian architecture was used. We've already visited Queen Anne styles of homes so now we will see a sample of an Edwardian Green home which was a popular style between 1905 and 1920. 


After the Victorian era when King Edward VII was on the throne, a new and cheerful, simple style came into vogue. Edwardian style was a freshness that people wanted. The heavy clutter and ornate decor of Queen Anne gave way to a more modern style. San Francisco row houses are typically two floors with the first floor raised to allow for a basement that doesn't require deep digging into the sandy layers of ground. The porches  are narrow, not the wrap around style we saw earlier. The beautiful Painted Ladies seen in San Francisco are not shy in posing for photographers. I took this picture on one of my San Francisco trips. I love these houses.


Heading east to Nebraska, it's a 1,393.9 mile trip taking 21 hours and 46 minutes to arrive in my husband's birthplace of North Platte, Nebraska. This is where Buffalo Bill Cody made his home in 1869


This three story Victorian House, Scout's Rest Ranch, was built for $3,900 to house William "Buffalo Bill" Frederick Cody during his Wild West Show days.The architecture is called Second Empire which was popular between 1865 and 1880. It was named for the French elements in vogue at that time.  Today it is part of The Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Buffalo Bill had many ventures but he earned this nickname by hunting and killing over 4,000 buffalo which were used to feed construction crews working on building railroads. Tours are available for the house, park and barn on the property.

In addition to the few homes we've visited, more sit on my shelf. One is from the Christmas collection which sports a Christmas tree in the window and painted wreaths on the veranda. On my own Christmas tree, I hang a couple of  miniature painted metal Shelia Houses. After a long winter I add a springtime tree to my row of houses. Other accessories are available as well as a long list of available themed collections. If you have a favorite part of the country you'd like to visit from home, check out the list of collection series and enjoy. Happy travels to you.





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