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June 7, 2011

tour: swannanoa palace

I discovered the most amazing thing this weekend. I heard about this cool big house at the end of a private road in the Shenandoah mountains and I thought I'd take my husband out to see it (sounds like the start of a horror film). It turns out that the house is open for public tours a few weekends a year, and this was one of them!

The Italianate mansion was built in 1912 by a soldier/politician for his wife. The exterior is white Georgia marble and the interior includes (among other things) Italian Carrera marble, authentic Tiffany glass windows, and gold plumbing. Its 52 rooms total about 23,000 square feet.

This place is absolutely incredible. I can't describe how weird it is to walk into this mostly empty, completely opulent yet decrepit palace. We could wander wherever we wanted in the open areas, and most amazingly, they didn't care at all if anyone touched anything. The woodwork and marble were so intricate and perfect, even 100 years later.

The plaster, paint, and textiles haven't held up as well. I can only imagine how magical everything must have looked when it was shiny and new.

The ballroom ceiling. Breathtaking, even in its tattered state.

I loved the Arabian smoking lounge. HELLO awesome chandelier and elaborate crown moldings. It's so cool how well the paint has held up for 100 years.

One of my favorite rooms was the breakfast nook. The hand-painted wallpaper, gold molding, and soft afternoon sunlight called my name.

It also appears that someone lives there. It is so tragic to see such an incredible estate become a dumping ground for old office furniture and tattered newspapers. Supposedly the plan is to restore the palace and convert it into a luxury B&B. But the most recent (and only) restoration project took place more than a decade ago.

But so amazing to visit.


Ashley said...

my husband and I are taking a road trip through the Shenandoah valley in september for our anniversary....is there a website or number to call to see about visiting? Thanks!

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Beautiful space. Would be nice if they could transform it into something special and full of life. Not just a echo-filled shell with rubbish in the corners...

Courtney {a thoughtful place} said...

That last hallway image is STUNNING!!!! all so beautiful

Brittany {Gallery No. Eight} said...

What an amazing place! All the details are just so gorgeous!

Bobby N said...
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