Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Visit to the White House

Well, actually the Kingsport (TN) "White House."

Upon seeing the photos of the Allandale Mansion in the Visitors' Guide, we thought the Mansion's history would date to the Civil War and there would be stories relating to battles and turbulent times.

However, as is often the case, reality is much less dramatic. When Harvey and Ruth Brooks built Allandale Mansion in 1950, it was designed as a family home situated on a scenic 500 acre farm, not a museum or special event venue. But today, the city of Kingsport offers its use as both. The Mansion, a classic example of Georgian architecture, was willed to the City of Kingsport in 1969.

Tours of the Mansion are available by appointment, but we could walk the grounds of what has become a focal point of Kingsport's social life. Since 1983, the gardens and statues served as a beautiful backdrop for weddings and receptions.

About two years ago, Dr. Harry Coover donated funds to build the “Heron Dome” on the Allandale Mansion grounds. He wanted to give something back to the city where he has lived and worked most of his life, but more importantly, he wanted to honor the memory of his wife Muriel. “The Heron Dome” features a bronze heron sculpture in a shallow pool, benches, landscaping and lighting to make it suitable for night events. Coover said the heron was his wife’s favorite bird and added that the species mates for life.

Activities at the other end of the social spectrum can be scheduled in the newly redecorated dairy barn on the Mansion's grounds. A more casual party place, it has a hayloft for dancing, a stage for musicians and a butler's pantry for serving refreshments. Rustic outdoor tables are on hand for all sorts of picnics.

The last stop on our tour of the grounds was another barn. And on that barn was the quilt pattern "Stars Over Tennessee."

Everything seemed to fit.

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