Monday, February 6, 2012

A morning of awkwardness is far better then a night of loneliness.

So I would say I have done pretty well with this whole moving across the country thing. However, the other morning I woke up with a case of the home sickies. I had a dream about my family and friends, my aunts, uncles and cousins. Which was awesome! It was so nice to have them all there. But then I woke up to a text from my best friend Krista telling me that they are all going to the beach -- windows down, and Weezy blaring out the speakers. This just happens to be one of my number one things to do. If I was going to die tomorrow this is probably most likely how I would spend today if I could.

California isn't a bad place, but it isn't home either. I was thinking no matter how long I was to live here, you can't take my Florida raising out of me. Once a Florida girl, always a Florida girl. I want to go to the beach and drink a beer. I want to be able to drive to the Keys for the weekend, or go a little up north and camp, and ride a dirt bike, or quad. Shoot some shit, get muddy. I want to put on blue and yellow, and go get hammered at a Rays game and loose my voice from screaming. I am going to drink Bud Light and it will be from a bottle while I'm at a bar. None of this only draft bull shit. Everyone knows draft gives you a hang over.

So after a months time, I legitimately got home sick. But I have to remember the reason I am here. I enjoy it here. I would stay a year or two, but after that... I'm comin' back to Florida baby. But needless to say. I needed to do something to get home off my mind. What better then to go explore the city I currently reside. Plus I'm always down for a good old fashioned adventure. I decided to go check out the Haas-Lilienthal House.

It took me about 25 minutes to walk there. It was another strenuous walk in the beginning. These stairs a block away from my house are murderous. But with no pain there is no gain. And I gained a lot of knowledge this day.

A house I found along the way.

Use caution when walking on the sidewalk
Don't want to bump your head on a window.

Now the Haas- Lilienthal House is a Queen Anne style house (There was no correlation with Queen Anne -- It was just a luxurious sounding name). Or what you may know as a Gingerbread Victorian. Built in 1886 The purpose of these houses was to use as much ornamentation as possible. Less is more.. more like more is not enough. The owners of the homes wanted the home to seem extra large. In this picture you can see the little windows right in the middle. Those windows were made small to make the house seem taller. Like the windows were up higher. Also the tower on the top wasn't used for anything other then making the house seem higher, and well... for Christmas decoration storage.

The taller the better.

Materials also were very faux during this style. Materials were used to imitate other materials making the home look more grand. This home was a middle class home during this time. The Haas family moved from Bavaria, Germany out to California for the same reason a lot of people moved here during this time. The Gold Rush. Now the thing is, not much gold was found here during that time. The people who made the money were the merchants. The Haas family owned a store, and became wealthy just by selling to all the gold-crazy people during these times.

There were a lot of things to be found out on this tour. Especially things dealing with etiquette and the properness during this time period. For starters, the only thing on this home that is not original would be the hand rail leading up the porch steps. During this time it was rude for a woman to hold a hand rail while walking up and down stairs. She needed to rely on her gentleman's arm when balancing. It was to vulgar of a gesture for a lady to be seen holding a railing. If a lady did not have anyone to support her while going down stairs she would old guide her pinky and ring finger down the railing. 

During this time there was no telephone. And house guests were very common. The lady of the house would get lots of guests that would stay no longer than 30 minutes to say hello and introduce others. So how did the lady let people know if she was receiving guests or not that day? She did so by these pocket doors on the outside of the house. If the lady was receiving guests the pocket doors would be open exposing the front door and foyer area, where as if she was not, those doors would be closed almost barricading her into the home.

Front Pocket Doors

Now since there was no telephone, and the lady would never answer the door her self. If you came to visit you would bring a calling card. When you entered into the home the servants wouldn't speak to you. You wold simply place your calling card with your name on a tray and the servant would bring the tray up to the lady. Depending on your reason of visit would depend on which corner of the card you would simply bend. Right top corner: congratulations, Left top corner: condolences, etc. 

Bright colors at this time were considered vulger. So the homes were decorated rather dark. Dark wood, Dark blue wallpaper with a gold pattern. The wall paper was textured to look like leather but was really a material called Lincrusta, which was made from Linoleum. 

When guests came over they were only allowed in one room really. Which was the front room. This is where entertainment was had. The photo above is a painting by a famous landscape painter at the time. You wanted this painting to be showcased for your visitors to see that you have status. 

Rococo Revival chair, and fireplace in the front parlor.

After the front room if the guest are being entertained for dinner they would go into another more living room style room. The room was equipped with slipper chairs for the ladies (Chairs with no arms so the ladies could get in and out with their dresses) Armed Fauteuil chairs (Chairs with arm but the sides are open-- like the chair above), a piano and a large fireplace.

When dinner was ready the servants would open up pocket doors where the dining room would be exposed and dinner would be served.

Now children were not allowed to eat in the dining room with the adults. Not until they have learned all their table manners. Which there was a lot to remember back in those days. For example: You could not cool your soup if it was too hot, you had to wait. You could not bite your bread roll, you had to tear off pieces. You could not hold your bun to butter it, you had to butter it while it sat on the plate. You could not get a grease mark on your water glass. And the list goes on. So until children learned these manners they had to eat in a dining room next door, just for them. 

Another thing about the children was they were not allowed to use the front door unless accompanied by an adult. They also were not allowed to go through the kitchen to use the back door because the kitchen was the busiest place in the house. So after dinner when the kids wanted to go outside and play they got to use a "Secret" door.

Thats right this window actually slides up revealing a door. Not only is this bad ass, and I wish I had one when I was a kid, but it served a great purpose. The kids were basically trapped while their parents were having a dinner party being stuck in between the main dining room and the kitchen. But also back in the late 1800's you were taxed on how many doors you had in your residence. So they would build what looked like a window, but secretly slid up into a door. 

The kitchen

Regulator Clock
 (I have a fancier version of this is my living room -- i got excited)

The Master Bedroom

The lady spent a lot of her time stairing out windows. That is how they got their gossip. If they saw flowers being sent to a house frequently, she knew they are probably getting married soon. If a doctor was making more frequent house calls, then she knew someone maybe very ill and dying. 

The lady also spent a majority of her time in the bathroom. This is where she kept all her dresses. In the 1800's you changed your dresses frequently, and needed help so the bathroom was large to allow her servants to be able to help her. If you look to the left of the mirror there is a gas heated curling iron the lady would use to curl her hair. Woman did not wear make-up back then because it was vulgar and something only movie actresses work and prostitutes. Only up until the movies got really big, and all the woman wanted to look like movie stars, Max Factor came out with make-up for the everyday lady. Woman had so many rules back then. If they went out in public, their coins and money had to be washed and ironed. One of the old hotels here in San Fran will still wash your coins if you ask them too. The reason the coins had to be washed because ladies wore white gloves, and the coins got the gloves dirty.

Toilet and bidet in master bath.

Stained glass in children's rooms.

Toy Train set. This thing was huge.  
One car was at least a 8-12 inches.and like 4 inches wide.

It was so interesting to learn all these things, just by taking a walk through one home. It was 8 dollars well spent. The Docent was super nice, and he gave me a 2-for-1 coupon since I will be in the area for a while. I couldn't imagine having to live in a time like that. Well actually I could. But if the world we live into day woke up in a world like that, everyone would be thrown for a wild loop. Just the manners alone you needed back then. It was even un proper to go to someones home and ask to use the restroom. If you went for tea you had to be careful you did not drink too much. But if you absolutely couldn't wait, you would have to pretend as if you were suddenly ill and had to go to the rest room to splash water on your face.

After I left the Haas-Lilienthal house I decided to have one more stop at the McElroy Octagon house. This home was built in 1861. Unfortunately the house is only open to view on certain days of the month. Which is really random. But I will have to go back, I think it will be open this Sunday, so I guess I have plans, lol. There are only 5 of these homes in San Francisco.  I can't wait to take a peek inside.

In 1951 this home was acquired by the National Society of Colonal Dames of America.

In 1968 it was declared a Historical Landmark

And in 1972 it was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places

So for a day that started out missing my home. I sure learned a lot about other peoples.  And if theres anything I love learning about homes, architecture, and period styles, it is the stories that are behind them.

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