We went to Sully Plantation last month with my sister and her children. It may be dramatic, but not exaggerating, to say that the experience was such that "a more spiritual [wo]man than myself might have achieved levitation." (if you have not already read For Esmee With Love and Squalor, stop reading this and get your hands on the short story right now!)
We learned a lot. The kids learned that if they get too close to the well, a white haired man will come out and terrify them away, telling them that if they fell in there would be no way to get them out again.
My sister and I learned that the plantation was originally owned by Robert E. Lee's grandfather, Henry Lee II and later his uncle, Richard Bland Lee. We also learned that Henry Lee's wife and first lady of the home, Lucy Grymes, was reknowned for her great beauty (she was known as the Lowland Beauty). She received a marriage proposal from George Washington, but she considered him too poor to be suitable. She lived to see him become the nation's hero. Talk about a road not taken experience.
The kids seemed to absorb that the Lees lived with a white squirrel as a household pet. I am certain they at least took notice of the stuffed albino creature.
We saw all the bedrooms.
My favorite was the girls' (neices to the Lees) room; this photo does not capture why. The younger girl had carved her little name in the window, but the pane was later broken during restoration. It was the only pane of glass to break in the entire home. It is the window to the left.
Will loved the cradle in the master bedroom, so I had to get a shot of him showing it to me for the millionth time.
This is the downstairs study. Cordelia, the older niece, was married in this room and the room was set up as it was the day of her wedding. That green sofa was there that day, too. Don't you love it? I loved this room, and the original sofa and the wedding story and set-up made me love it more.
We learned that the schoolhouse was in a large room upstairs. They used the McGuffy Eclectic Readers, the same I used as a 4th grader at Fairfax Christian School.
(I recognized even then what a tremendous education that school was, and if it is still the same now as it was then, I will do whatever it takes to send my kids there.) Why would any school use anything aside from McGuffy's?
The kids got to try out the hornbooks, the slate boards etc.
We learned about making thread and yarn. This was Andrew's favorite room.
Lucy Gryme's wheel from the early 1700s is still there, too.
We talked about the contrast btwn the master house and the slave quarters.
We realized that our tour was way too long for little kids and that we lacked the skills to properly assist our guide in giving us a redacted version. His method of redaction was to go on and on and on about a few rooms and then not show us the kitchen at all
We learned that there is a Costco 5 minutes from the Plantation and it is a perfect place for 5 hungry boys, one other boy and a girl to eat lunch.
We will be back soon. Make that volunteer tour guide earn his money.