This blog is a celebration of novel, novel characters!

I love reading novels, and as an artist I know a great exercise to stretch one's illustration skills is to portray characters from a description in a book. This blog is a challenge to myself to do just that so I'll be posting illustrations from whatever book I'm currently reading. Feel free to add comments and send me your fan art for these great titles too!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Historical Places- Vaile Mansion

I mentioned in a previous post that recently I went to the Vaile Mansion in Independence, MO.  I was in the area house/kid sitting for my brother and figuring it wasn’t the sort of thing to interest a very active 9 year old, I snuck away while she was at school.  I hadn’t realized until I did an internet search, how many wonderfully interesting historical sites there are around Kansas City.  I’ll have to make a point of visiting something new every time I go to visit my brother from now on.  On this last trip I really only had time for one place, so I decided on checking out the Vaile Mansion.
I don’t like crowds when I can avoid them (no phobias, just like it to be peaceful I suppose), so going at about 11am on a Monday morning turned out to be the perfect time.  There was one couple finishing up their tour when I arrived, otherwise I was the only guest.  One of the docents kindly offered to give me a tour and I gladly accepted!  I felt like a VIP getting my own personal guide.  I would have liked to ask her more questions but she kept up a wonderful running dialog throughout the entire mansion.  I think she would have given the same speech regardless if it were for 1, 20, or 200 people.  I learned a lot.
I love the way the Mansion looks from the outside.  It was built in 1881 to impress.  I’ve read a lot of novels set in that time period so it was great fun to see what a high class house would have been like.  Through the years it passed through different hands and served different purposes before being restored to its original look from when it was first built.  Apparently it was a private home for only a short time.
This is the parlor on the left once you’ve entered the door.  You can see I’m now facing the front door which is in the far left corner of the photo.

  Through the parlor was a room full of musical instruments.  I don’t play the piano, but it sure looks inviting!
I love this red dress they had on display, I’m sorry my pictures came out blurry.  Maybe sometime I’ll draw a character wearing this one to do it justice.

There were painted details on many of the ceilings, this was one of my favorites.

I love inviting spaces like this.

Upstairs I thought it was interesting that the beds were placed in front of window alcoves designed for that purpose.
Looking out the window brought me back to this century.

Downstairs again in the dining room you can see one of the many original marble fireplaces.  I really like the detailing on the chairs.  The original owners didn’t entertain much so they had a relatively small dining room & table.

Coming full circle in a loop through the house brought me to the woman’s parlor which is to the right of the front door (across from the men’s parlor).  I was facing the front door here which would have been to the left.  The photo unfortunately came out blurry (I may be an artist, but my photography skills need much improvement).  Still, you can see in this room my favorite piece of furniture in the whole house.  Can you guess what it is?

The Victorian courting bench!  Living today in a society where propriety isn’t given a second thought yet hearts are still easily broken, I find the Victorians to be very wise in their thinking.  Couples were left with no opportunities to let their temptations get the better of them. 
 At least not without some very awkward reaching!  ;)


  1. I have a feeling this lovely house has been visited by an author or two and made it into a story. Lovely!
    thanks for sharing it Monica. I love old house tours!

  2. Oh, how beautiful! Thanks for sharing. And I love your sketch. So cute! :D

  3. Thank you both! I have a feeling about that too Debra. It's a very inspiring house. ;)

  4. I visited the Vaile Mansion a couple of weeks ago and am going back tomorrow!
    It is gorgeous, and as an author, I really want to write a novel set inside it...
    During Christmas, they decorate the house with lovely Victorian decorations, making it even more gorgeous!

    1. How fun! I'm sure you'll enjoy it. I would love to see it at Christmas! It would make for a great setting for story, wouldn't it? The house itself is inspiring, and the history behind it is very interesting too.