Monday, September 10, 2012

Blennerhassett Island

To celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary we spent the afternoon on Blennerhassett Island.
To begin our journey we boarded the "Island Belle" and began our journey back in time to the 1800's.

Referred to as the "Island Belle".

The first thing we did when we got there was to take a horse drawn covered wagon ride.

Harman and Margaret Blennerhassett built their mansion here. Its curved wings and end buildings had a total frontage of 190 feet. Its construction begun in 1798 and was completed in 1800. The mansion was the center of an elaborate estate which was the focus of area social life. It was here that Aaron Burr wove his mysterious plans for a military expedition to the southwest. Other famous visitors to the Blennerhassett estate included General Jame Wikinson, King Charles X of France, Henry Clay, and Johnny Appleseed, George Roger Clark encamped near the site with his army at the close of the revolutionary War. The mansion was accidentally burned down in 1811. In 1973 and 1974, archaeological teams discovered and excavated the mansion's original stone foundation. Reconstruction of the mansion on its original site began in 1984. The exterior was completed in 1985.  The interior was finished in phases and opened to the public in 1987-1991.

History (I cut and pasted this section off the their website)

Harman Blennerhassett, a wealthy Irish aristocrat, settled on the wilderness island in 1798, where he built a magnificent mansion. Designed in the Palladian style (like Mount Vernon), the house contained 7,000 square feet of floor space. Its rooms were furnished with furniture purchased in London and Baltimore, oriental carpets, oil paintings, and porcelain made in Paris. The hardware on some of the interior doors was made of silver. Alabaster lamps were suspended from the ceilings by silver chains. A 2-1/3 acre flower garden and two huge lawns surrounded the house. It was one of the most elegant estates in Virginia and was the most beautiful home west of the Alleghenies.
In 1806, however, Harman became entangled in a mysterious military enterprise with Aaron Burr. As a result, President Thomas Jefferson accused both men of plotting treason in attempting to establish an empire in the Southwest.
Blennerhassett fled the island, but was captured and put into the Virginia State Penitentiary. Although Burr was tried and acquitted and Blennerhassett released from prison, the lives of both men were ruined. Interestingly, most historians now agree that Burr had set his sights on northern Mexico for his dominion, today's state of Texas.
The exquisite mansion accidentally burned to the ground in 1811, eventually leaving no trace of its graceful, semicircular lines. However, modern archaeologists rediscovered its foundations in 1973. Through a continuing program of careful historical and architectural research, the mansion has been recreated for visitors to see. Work on furnishing its interior is still in progress.

The island before Blennerhassett: Blennerhassett Island's antiquity spans back to Ice Age hunters 9,000 years ago. Native American tribes lived on the island almost continuously, until white settlers began to flock into the Ohio Valley in the 1780s.
Many artifacts and tools dating to these ancient residents of Blennerhassett Island are on display at the Blennerhassett Museum of Regional History in downtown Parkersburg, at 2nd and Juliana streets.

Noteworthy: Blennerhassett Island is a noteworthy historic location for a variety of other reasons. During the 1760s, the famous Delaware Indian, Nemacolin, made the island his home. In addition, it was visited by many renowned figures including George Rogers Clark, King Charles X of France, Johnny Appleseed, Henry Clay and Walt Whitman.

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