June 1, 2015 we did laundry in the morning and just decided to veg out the rest of the day. But when you are used to sightseeing every day, it is hard to sit still. And it is darn boring. Although we have a satellite dish, we have west coast feed, which means all of our TV comes from LA stations. As we move east and change time zones, the program times become later for us to watch. (In other words when it is 6 pm here, the programing is from 4 pm. I really like to watch the nightly news, just to see what the world is up to. The next problem is all of our favorite shows have now gone into summer hiatus. Good thing most of our TV watching is in the evening.
Ford’s birth place is located in a suburb of Omaha, NB. Although the original house burned, the grounds are beautifully landscaped with a large single story building at the back of the property. It appears to be a meeting place, possibly for rent. Pictures are included in this posting. There is a brick kiosk at the front of the property with a small replica model of the old Ford home and several photos depicting Ford’s early life and some of his accomplishments.
Gerald Ford’s Birth Place and Garden at 32nd and Woolworth Avenue, Omaha, NE, was only 15 miles from our RV parking space. This was fairly easy to drive to. In fact, The exhibit and garden no longer contains the original house. We were told by a grounds keeper that the original house burned down.
Just down the hill from Ford’s birth place and gardens is a street with several large, Victorian era homes. The entire street is on the Historic Register. My neck got sore while swiveling my head to see as many of the homes as possible. They are all private residents, so no home tours were offered.
Joslyn Castle, 3902 Davenport St, Omaha, NE, is a home we happened to chance upon, in the Ford neighborhood. Oh, the exterior is so beautiful. I would love to have one of those circle rooms, sitting at the top floor, full of light, stacked with books, a cup of tea and have the whole day to do nothing but read.
We stopped and took pictures of the exterior, from outside the fence. No idea if the building was occupied or if it was part of a park or historic exhibit. We found a parking place and met a young woman coming out of the door. She worked for the “Castle” and knew a lot about the home and it’s history. She advised that she could not take us on a tour as the Castle was closed due to a tour being taken by school children. She took us over to the office to pick up a pamphlet that explained the history of the house and its current status. We also got information about other sites in the city that is on the ‘do not miss’ list.
The brochure we received lets visitors know that the 20,000 square foot, private residence, 35 room carved out of limestone is sitting on a 5.57 acre that it was built in 1903. It is considered one of the city’s grandest private estates. It is a Scottish Baronial style home, designed by Omaha architect John McDonald.
As we were leaving, the young woman came out of the offices and said since the children were on the second floor eating lunch, she would be happy to show us the first floor. WOW, what a great offer. So in we went, through the kitchen. The kitchen had been remodeled to fit health standards for commercial food preparation. Then on to the real home. The interior has Italian marble, hand-carved exotic woods, some of which can no longer be found. Each room had a different wood with the pocket doors matching the room it faces. There is a curved, French polished, Spanish mahogany staircase. The conservatory has 14 original stained glass windows, however, it did sustain some hurricane damage a few years ago.
The above picture is from the balcony of the entertainment room, added 2-3 years later after completion of the original home. The Joslyn’s loved to entertain and what better way to highlight the gifts of the entertainers. It also has a large stage and had a large pipe organ.
The front parlor is on the left. The rooms in the home have both gas and electric fixture. In the day, no one was sure that electricity was here to stay. On the right (you can also see Jack) is the dining room which is 8-sided. You can see the only piece of original furniture remaining in the home, an 8-sided dining table.
The Castle is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a designated Omaha Landmark Historic Structure. My description cannot do this house justice. The Joslyn Castle Trust now preserves the Castle, the gardens and grounds with a goal to enrich the community. Although much of the structure remains as original, the furnishings other than the dining room were not present. I feel sad situation and truly hope that they are able to find more period furniture to make this grand home as stately as it once was.
There is a carriage building, seen through the portico of the castle in the above picture. It is smaller than the original home. Although designed for horses and carriages, later cars, the carriage house is now occupied by three different companies who pay rent for their various spaces.