Camilla’s garden is fairly overgrown at this point. We are still looking for gardeners who would like to take it under their wings and bring it back…and then keep it back! But today, there are some plants there that every year showcase some of the beauty the garden must have held. Take a stroll…
We received a question from D’Ette Myers asking about musical instruments, toys, china, and silver service that we have at the mansion.
First, let’s play!
Both the Hegeler and Carus families appear to be passionate about music. The children were expected to know at least two instruments, the first of which was the piano. In the Mansion there is an 1860 Steinway Box Grand, a small player piano, a violin, and two flutes, both of them belonging to Mary Louise Carus who recently passed away. There are also plenty of radios, gramophones, a graphophone, an 1893 Regina music box, a Sonora Victrola record player, and countless music books. There’s also a broken metronome and two small busts of famous composers Wagner and Beethoven. Paul Carus even wrote a bit of music; well, the lyrics to music, anyway! We know that the Hegelers were big fans of Wagner, Beethoven, Shubert, and Strauss because there’s a lot of sheet music from them.
Because most children were expected to play outside back then, there aren’t a lot of toys. There is a dollhouse and some blocks and toy cars, and Alwin Carus talked about playing with little lead soldiers, but there are more outside activity equipment that we have such as tennis racquets, bicycles, skis, and sleds.
Here’s the careful part:
We know that Camilla Hegeler’s wedding China was blue and white Meissen, but as the family expanded and dishes wore out, it appears that other patterns were incorporated. In the Butler’s Pantry are a variety of blue and white patterns, including: Blue Onion, Danube, Delft, Carolina Blue, Spode, and perhaps the best-known blue and white pattern, Blue Willow, made famous for its durability during The Great Depression’s Blue Plate Special.
Valeri Ann and Jennifer English both had questions about the gardens and grounds.
The Mansion originally sat on about three acres of land. Starting from the street view: just to the left of the Mansion was a bird-shaped pond. Edward Hegeler was originally going to put fish in it, but his children had so much fun playing in it that he let it be for them to enjoy as a sort of wading pool.
Continuing left to the southwest corner is a gazebo. There was originally a gazebo there, but family memoirs suggest that it was almost never used, and very few photos of it exist. A new one was built a few years ago. This is now the area of our wonderful outdoor concerts. The west yard had a little twig bridge, a garden path, and plenty of wildflowers.
Moving northward there is a little fenced-off area called ‘Grandmother’s Garden’. Camilla grew flowers like roses and bleeding hearts there. We would love to restore Camilla’s garden and have been searching for volunteer gardeners to help plant the original kinds of plants and then tend to the maintenance of the garden. We don’t have enough paid staff hours to do that, so if anyone is inclined to garden at a National Historic Landmark, do I ever have a deal for you.
When Elizabeth (Libby) and Alwin lived in the Mansion, Libby was very interested in gardening and also had an assortment of animals around which made good use of the grounds.
Looking currently from ‘Grandmother’s Garden’ to the right are two small outbuildings. The first, in ruins, was once a lovely brick greenhouse with a beveled glass top. It was steam-heated from the zinc works and so could house tropical plants. There was also a small monkey named Neg who resided there. According to the local paper, a hailstorm swept through sometime in the early 1900’s and destroyed the glass top. It was never rebuilt.
The second brick structure was and is a garage, built in the Prairie Style in 1915 by Chicago architect Victor Matteson. The space above could have also been used as living quarters.
Gone now, but just to the right of the garage, was an out-of-service trolley car. The kids built a second level to it and even hooked up electricity!
The far north side of the property once hosted a field of catalpa trees. There are a few that still exist in other parts of the yard.
The east side, which is now Carus Chemical, had a vegetable garden, carriage house, and a tennis court.
A receipt was found in the Mansion that dates to 1879. It was a rather large order from a nursery in Bloomington, Illinois and contained over 200 flowers, trees, bushes, and ornamental shrubs. A few of them still exist on the property today, including the Sycamore tree and the extremely rare Bald Cypress.
There are also three Ginkgo trees on site, two females and one male. If you have been to the Mansion and saw signs warning you not to walk on the orange berries, you know where the female ginkgoes are located along the drive.