Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Visit to Hemingbough And A Birthday Party For The Dapper Mr. Hunt Slonem

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"As a word, Hemingbough cannot be found in any dictionary, because it is beautifully undefinable." 

Hemingbough. The name just rolls off one's tongue as easily as mint julep on a languid afternoon, doesn't it? It sounds so astute, so proper, so pedigreed. Well, it is all of those things and so much more. The story of Hemingbough is nothing short of interesting and I am so thrilled to be able to take you along for this mini-vacation in one of the deep-south's most charming cities––St.Francisville, Louisiana.

My love affair with Hemingbough started in the spring of 07' when Mr.Trapped and I were set to celebrate our 1st anniversary.
 {I changed his moniker from Mr.Hotpiece because I caught some flack from a prudish lady that I know who alluded to me that I was speaking 'inappropriate' know who you are, winkwink}

A great friend of mine told me the story of this magnificent piece of land, with all of these beautiful buildings and peacocks, and formal gardens andandand, and it's where her wonderful husband proposed to her––it was called Hemingbough. Yes! Our one-year anniversary was right around the corner and this seemed juuust right. Once I trolled around the internet checking out all I possibly could on the place––it being our 1st anniversary and all, it had to be PERFECT!  More than perfect, as perfect as perfection could be! There was only one 1st anniversary and we were going to make that baby memorable. And so it was. I couldn't imagine a better place have spent the celebration of one whole year of marital bliss.  

This past Sunday I was fortunate enough to be able to travel back to Hemingbough and spend the day there with friends and guess who?? Hunt Slonem! Remember him from this post? The owners of Hemingbough are great friends with Hunt and enjoy collecting his art, so what better place than theirs to host a birthday party. And a lovely party it was––the food, the company, and some deliciously mysterious cocktail that I thought I'd get myself into trouble with. But alas, I behaved like a lady and all was dandy ;)

The story of Hemingbough is one of hard work, vision {great vision} and knowing exactly what one wants his life to be and following it through to make it happen. That takes tenacity, y'all.

The owners were SO SWEET––yet sort of camera shy–– so I'm not sure if they want their names plastered all over Andrea V's bloggy–– so let's just say: They are handsome, full of zest, down to earth,  trés humble and I admire their approach to this thing called life. 


The story I was told was this: Once upon a time, the owner of Hemingbough took a giant risk––a risk that most of us could maybe never dream of taking. He bought a plantation home that needed some serious TLC and was in line for the wrecking ball. See, whomever was responsible for re-directing the levee system in St. Francisville was none too pleased that a big ol' decaying plantation was in his way––of course, being the logical guy a levee re-director mover-man is, he decided that the plantation needed to GO, and FAST. Well, that came to a screeching halt as history would tell it!

The plantation at risk of extinction {that's what I call it anyway} was Nottoway, one of the most famed southern plantations there has ever been. Written about more times than I can count, this is one truly fine gem in our history and if it were no longer––I shudder at the thought––we would have lost one of the most impressive pieces of Greek Revival+Italianate Architecture in Louisiana––and I venture to say, the whole south.....see why below:


Fifty-three THOUSAND square feet!! Can you imagine???

When I saw this room for the 1st time, I was maybe 12 at most––I knew at that moment what I wanted to do with my life––and honey that ain't no hyperbole. I think it was the plaster frieze that got me, and there was no turning back, it was inconceivable. 

Let me get back to the point of the story––the YOUNG, new owner took such a leap on Nottoway that his budget was a wee bit thin, so he had to make a quick turnaround with renovations in order to generate some positive cashflow for himself––on a 3 month completion time, he had Nottoway picked up out of decay, shining her brightest and ready for the public to tour. This proved to be an overwhelming success, so much it shocked him into disbelief! The tourists were clamoring at the gates and dying to tour the beautiful Nottoway Plantation. Can you see why?

Years later, the YOUNG gentleman was approached by an interested buyer and he agreed to sell––if I remember correctly, there was a period when Nottoway was back to a private residence and no longer open for tours––it is now back in operation and is a B&B as well.

What to do now? Not one to rest on his laurels, the gentleman acquired a 230 acre parcel of land with a big ol' swimming pool on it. There. That's it. Story over! Okay, seriously––Hemingbough was a campground before it was this meticulously manicured sanctuary with everything you are about to see. They built everything on this piece and traveled extensively–– documenting details, structures, and proportions to make their dream a reality.


Every year, Hemingbough hosts the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra for an evening and also hosts an Easter Sunrise Service on Easter Sunday {I hear that the veddy suhhthehn ladies arrive in full regalia for this event––hats, gloves, the works}

The guest house––this is where Mr.Trapped and I stayed for our very 1st anniversary! It was really well appointed––very formal with floral drapery and a rice bed, pink marble vanities–– the whole bit. I regret to say that I couldn't get in to snap a few shots, but I only had a few sweet minutes to run around before the party!

This is the auditorium, where very large events take place––massive in real life. How about that boxwood garden?????? I would kill for my yard to look a fraction this sublime––instead I have this nightmare, remember? 

Check out the mullions on this window––not your mamma's mullions! These are 2x4's––so wrap your head around how huge that is! I'd say the window was 10 ft tall. Impressive is an understatement!

EVERYTHING in Hemingbough is cast plaster frieze. He worked with a gentleman out of New Orleans who built all of his own molds–– that is until that unfortunate little storm, Katrina blew in and washed them all way––sniffsniff. 


And TAHDAH!!! Here's where the fun began! You know, Hunt Slonem is a wildly popular gent, so throwing a nice little soirée was certainly on the menu for his 29th ;) 

The highlight? Someone actually flew in Pastrami and Saukraut {my fave} from Katz's Deli in New Yawk!! I thought that was so special––truly. I mean, what a sweet gesture! What a great friend!

The dapper man himself, totally living up his birthday in his sassy yellow glasses. He glided effortlessly between conversations with all of his friends and made everyone feel more than welcome and appreciated. I was so honored to be able to celebrate with him! I can thank my great friends, whom I love dearly, for inviting me to Hunt's birthday and Hemingbough––what a grand way to spend an otherwise ordinary afternoon!

Hope you all enjoyed this! Tell me, doesn't Hemingbough seem like a little taste of paradise or what?? Aren't you just drooling to go? I know I'd love to go back this weekend––or better yet I can be the resident bon-bon eater and general sofa-decoration while lounging around in my caftan––they'll never get rid of me that way! Sounds so much better ;)

Edited to add: Ellen Kennon––a co-host of Hunt's party, also did a blogpost on the day! Check out her blog for another take on the story, as she was so kind to link my blog to hers :) She has some delicious recipes from the day too :)


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Why Grey Gardens *May* Be Pushed To My #2 Spot

Pin It I FINALLY watched Harold & Maude. It's been in my netflix queue for forever it seems and so I decided that it was high-time to see it the other night and could not contain my giggles––what a FANTASTIC film. Macabre, irreverent, smart, witty and poignant. I loved this film and I never thought that anything could bump GG off of my #1 slot, but H&M really might be a near close contender.

I couldn't help but notice the set design and costume design. The home was part french, part tudor/gothic; I thought that was an interesting combo, and apropos for the two characters residing within the space. Harold, a death obsessed teenager who wreaks havoc on his emotionally-absent socialite mumsie by concocting elaborate faux-suicide ploys in every corner of their gigantic mansion. Harold observes strangers funerals, drives a hearse, and has a general malaise in regards to life–– that is until he meets Maude. **I'm going to stop there, b/c I don't want to give the whole movie away if you haven't seen it ;)


Vivian Pickles {Mrs. Chasen, Harold's mother} was a TOTAL KNOCKOUT!!! Look at her in the library with that fabulous greek-key turban. I carefully reviewed this scene 3x just to look at that outfit. *I am not nearly over greek-key if you haven't noticed ;)


The film was shot in and around San Francisco––The Chasen's home is actually (in real life), The Rose Court Mansion, which belonged to George T. Cameron, a 20th century San Francisco politician. Most of the scenes were shot in the music room and the library, and the butler that appears in the film was the actual butler on the premises! 

This film was released in 1971, but notice how most everything in the room could easily be used today. The soft green on the boiseries remind me of this issue of Veranda––remember that one? Gadjuzzzzz. 


Harold's sense of personal style is also remarkable. He refused to succumb to his mother's practical sensibilities, so when she did away with his prized hearse, he showed her his counter-culture soul by welding his own version of a Jaguar-hearse. **I gave Harold an air-hi-5 for this ingeniousness ;) 


The 'drawing room' with its shocking pink drapery and  gothic/renaissance revival chairs. 

One of the BEST scenes in the movie––I completely lost it when he pulled this prank and his guests reaction was pure cinema gold. Hilarious!


Here, Harold is coming to deliver what he considers great news to his mother, but alas––she is disapproving yet again, and of course, preoccupied. 

Her room is so feminine, soft and indulgent. Perfect for a high-brow lady, right?


If you haven't seen Harold and Maude, I highly recommend it! Beware, though: It's kinda like a Woody Allen film, you'll either love it or hate it––but if you like satire, exuberant characters and dead-pan humor, you'll love this. Enjoy!