Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Belle of The Ball: Review of Bellamy Mansion Tour


Hearts: Wonderful historical tour, fairly priced, entertaining tour guides
Farts: Reminds one of darker days gone by


I was very pleasantly surprised on the Bellamy Mansion tour.  I am not a history buff per se but I do enjoy a good yarn now and then.  Our tour guide was a lovely lady filled with not just the architectural detail and  historical details of Bellamy Mansion but she had a rare flare that intertwined the personal lives of Bellamy's previous owners. So much so, I still want to go back and get a book in their gift shop about one of the home's original slaves.  He had apparently escaped via the Cape Fear River and his memoirs were later published in this book.  

Indeed, this tour guide made my day!! In addition she captured the true essence of why I moved to Wilmington in the first place, the grace of southern hospitality.  She reminded me of a true history artisan.  One that was able to keep the audience fully captivated with enough details to entice you into the past.  I was definitely doing a dance with a grand lady on this day.

Bellamy Mansion offers the visitor a spectacular architectural preview of days gone by. Her graceful columns, pocketed doors, chandeliers and grand rooms speak to a time in history when ball gowns and parasols dominated even though this mansion was referred to as a "working" mansion.  But underneath her finery lingered slave quarters and segregated bathrooms. A time in our history when suppression and slavery prevailed.  Such a contrast is evident in almost every corner of this mansion. Such a contrast, I believe we need to more fully understand.

The tour is a paradox. It is enjoyable for the beauty of Bellamy Mansion but it is also heart breaking as it reminds us of a time when our country used men, women, and children to build plantations upon while robbing them of their freedom.

I will carry the history of this belle with me forever.  In the pictures I took, in the memory of our wonderful tour guide but more poignantly in the memory of those who sacrificed their freedom to both run Bellamy Mansion and her plantations as well as to help build the city of Wilmington.

This is one tour you should not miss!

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