WHITE HOUSE OF THE CONFEDERACY. PROPERTY OF THE CITY OF RICHMOND— HOW TO BE UTILIZED. Miss Clara Reese, in the Pittsburg Commercial, gives the following description of the Jefferson Davis man- sion at Richmond, as it appeared recently : Unlike many buildings of historic interest, the Davis mansion has much to reward the visitor. The building, a square three-storied structure, with a base- ment of half story above the ground, is of smooth, gray stone, and stands out directly on the street, the pavement in front shaded by three thick trees. A flight of eight stone steps, these worn in hollows by the tramp of seventy-five years, lead up to the main doorway, the small portico of which is guarded by two slenderpillars. An outer reception hall leads into a still larger one, this in its turn opening upon a wide porch, which runs the entire rear of the building, and from which eight gigantic pillars, with circumference as great as the large timber wheels used in hauling from the Pittsburg mills, reach upward to the roof, which stands outward above the highest story. It is from this porch the 11-vear-old son of Mr. Davis fell and broke his neck. The distance is probably twelve feet to the ground. The porch looks out upon a grass- grown yard, enclosed by a high brick fence newly whitewashed. The yard is shaded by a number of trees — horse chestnut, English walnut, magnolia and •evergreen. VIEW OF THE INTERIOR. From the reception hall, which looks out upon this porch, three doois open into large apartments, now used as school-rooms. Doors are brown with age. The double-doors to the right arc carved in the Grecian pat- tern. Floors are finished iji hard pine, walls have all had their special tint of paint, and the ceilings are all richly ornamented with stucco-work. Pieces of this ornamentation have fallen off, but in the pristine beauty the effect must have been elaborate. On state occasions it is presumable that the doors of these apartments were thrown open into the reception room, now used as the principal's office. In the first reception hall are two alcoves, each con- taining a bronze figure, life size. One figure represents Ceres and one Comus. To the right a winding stair- way reaches to the upper floors. Two alcoves are in the wall along the line of stairway, these probably adorned in the past by statues. Banisters are plain, but along the Hat ends of the stairs runs a vine of con- ventionalized flowers and leaves and the base of the stairway supports a pillar for the illumination, lamp at first, at present gas. The private office of Mr. Davis is still further to the right of the stairway. It is a small apartment. A marble mantle of plain con- struction has a place, the only mantle at present in the building. There are probably twenty apartments beside hallways, large closets, basement and observa- tory. Rooms are all large and well lighted. Win- dows, though sinall-paned, arc generous in size, those in the rear of the first floor extending almost from •ceiling to floor. There are inside shutters to all the windows, and from the observatory a fine view may be had over the city. On the whole, in spite of the wear and tear of seventy-five years, the mansion is still in comfortable and habitable condition, and the ladies of Richmond arc deserving of the highest praise for their laudable intention to keep intact the historic landmark, one certainly dear to every loyal Southern heart. A DREAM IN MARBLE. Miss Reese gives the following description of two old mantels that have been secured by a gentleman in the vicinity of the mansion: The mantels are of good, though not exaggerated height, the shelves are wide and perfectly plain, and the ornamental work down each side of the fire-place rests on a plain, substantial base. The whole beauty lies in the perpendicular supports from shelf to base, and the horizontal panels directly over the fire-place. The horizontal panels are in has relief, and as deli- cately chiseled as a cameo, while the side-pieces are carved to stand out almost to the depth of tree pieces of statuarv. On one mantel the side pieces represent Cupid and Psyche. The figures are in kneeling post- ures upon an ornamental piece of carving resembling a leaf-cushioned trunk of a tree, and occupy the full space between this and. the mantel-shelf. Cupid on the right-hand panel has just shot an arrow from his bow, and is intently watching its destination. His long curls hang gracefully, the poise of the kneeling figure is admirable, while the dimples of hand and feet and the curves of the figure are artistic and ex- quisite. On the other upright panel Psyche has caught the arrow upon her knee, and grasps it won- deringly. The lines of drapery, the delicately chiseled features, the curves of throat and shoulders, the rounded arms, the posture, are indicative of the skill which guided the hand of the sculptor. The horizontal panel in its delicate, pure, cameo- like outlines, represents the familiar picture of " Au- rora, or the "Coming of the Morning." Clouds form the misty base. A beautiful maiden is in advance of the chariot and its attendants, a dancing circle of cloud nymphs, and scatters blossoms above the sleep- ing earth. The chariot is drawn by three magnificent horses, and above flies the winged herald of the com- ing. The second mantel is also a dream in marble. On one of its upright sections stands out almost in free relief the exquisitely-chiseled figure of Hebe, the cup- bearer, and on the other that of Niobe, the figures standing. Hebe carries low in one hand a pitcher, and in the other, partly outstretched, the cup. The poise of the head, the grace and dignity of the figure, and the outline of the body, as expressed through the delicacy of the drapery, gives to the whole an exqui- site beauty. The figure of Niobe is likewise a dainty and exquisite piece of chiselled work. Draperies are scanty, and the dimpled curves of the graceful figure are wondrously chaste and beautiful. The horizontal panel represents Apollo in his char- iot in the heavens. Three horses draw the car of the god, their proportions suggestive of strength, while the god, with arms outstretched, grasping the reins, which are at t heir highest tension, stands out in relief, strong, and magnificent. The horizontal panels could be easily removed from their places and form has re- lief slabs, fit to grace the finest art museum in the land. CONFEDERATE MEMORIAL SOCIETY. The ladies have banded themselves together under the name of the Confederate Memorial Literary Society, with Mrs. J. Taylor Ellyson, wife of Mayor
Page:Confederate Veteran volume 01.djvu/28
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.