Hambley-Wallace House makes October Tour a brilliant success | Arts & Culture
SALISBURY - The 2012 edition of the annual October Tour was a stunning success, due largely to the opening of the Hambley-Wallace House.
One of Salisbury's best known and most distinctive homes, it was opened for the first time to the public this year as it begins a new life as a venue for special events.
On Saturday and Sunday hundreds lined the Fulton Street sidewalk to get a glimpse of the home. One of those who waited was Salisbury resident Liz Hood. Liz is well known in the area as an entertainer, with particular gifts for singing and performing.
I asked Liz if she would provide her own look at the experience of seeing the Hambley-Wallace House, and she kindly obliged. I've also included a brief history of the house provided to WBTV by the Historic Salisbury Foundation.
Saturday I was finally able to see a house I had wanted to see--for years! When we first moved here, our son called it "Kitty's Room Behind the Clock." That was an expression from my mother's family--anything that went missing was in her sister, Kitty's room--behind the clock. Why David, age 3 at the time thought that, I will never know. But so I have thought of it ever since 1971!
The Hambley-Wallace House was obviously the crown jewel of the entire October Tour. Yes, it was a long wait--and for me made it so I only got to see one other house as I had a time constraint. I had someone who had to leave at 2 sitting with my husband. But I saw friends I hadn't seen in ages while waiting, made new friends, and met the most delightful young tortoiseshell cat who thought he owned the front yard, at least!
Once inside, I was amazed at the work Janie and Spenser Lane had done with the other local contractors. I had heard for years about the 3rd floor ballroom--I got to see it! The Italian tesserae (tile) floors downstairs were marvelous. It was like being an archaeologist finding a mosaic hidden for centuries--lovely to behold! The design was simple which allowed for interesting treatments to windows--stain glass, wonderful curtains--colors as well as fabrics, and the fascinating collection of Napoleonic era figurines made of porcelain. There was an amazing chess board with the various kings, queens, whatever--all in Napoleonic period clothing. I am a bit of a history buff--thanks to my Dad who gave me for breakfast what he read the night before!
One often wonders if the truth of something will live up even half way up to the hype--oh, this house did and beyond! Oh, there were some things that I wouldn't have had for anything--dust collectors, my mom would have called them. And just the differences in taste. But the house was not only museum worthy--but above all else--it felt lived in, comfortable. Say what you will about the Biltmore, I have never felt comfortable there--though I would love to be locked in for a few years in the Library! But that kitchen! To die for! And what a lovely dining room. I love the high ceilings--10 feet? Mine are only 8 but I definitely like them high--they make it all seem even more elegant.
I was enchanted with the garden and the unique use of the old lift from the Wallace building! And was delighted to see some of My Kids from North Hills Christian School where I used to teach Spanish, helping out in the garden as guides and helpers.
It was, for once a long wait, that was well worth the wait. And I can finally say I have seen one of the most fascinating homes in Salisbury!
Here is a brief history of the home, provided by the Historic Salisbury Foundation:
Some locals call it “Salisbury’s castle” or the “Wallace Mansion.”
But although generations of visitors have passed by the Hambley-Wallace House, only a few have ever been able to explore this 21-room private residence.
This year, for the first time, every floor of the newly-restored Hambley-Wallace House was opened to visitors on the 37th annual OctoberTour™ of historic Salisbury homes and buildings, presented by the Historic Salisbury Foundation.
Designed by Charles Christian Hook and constructed between 1901 and 1903, the Hambley-Wallace House is one of the only examples of the Châteauesque architecture in the Piedmont.
It was chosen as one of twelve private sites on this year’s tour.
For members of the Wallace family, the chance to open their home to visitors from throughout the Southeast was an occasion for excitement.
“During the renovation, our family fell in love with the house and property all over again,” said Whitney Wallace, who is chair of Salisbury’s OctoberTour™ this year.
She, along with parents Leo and Mona Lisa Wallace and sister Lane Wallace, have spent much of the past year restoring the house and grounds to their original beauty.
“Every day revealed hidden or overlooked treasures,” Wallace said, “including original gas fixtures found in the cellar, covered mosaic tiles and stained glass windows, and the original wooden radiator knobs.” Not to mention, she said, hardwood floors that bear the name of her great-great-grandfather’s Salisbury dry goods store, V. Wallace & Sons.
Under the direction of contractor Spencer C. Lane, brother of Mona Wallace, two years and hundreds of hours of work went into the home restoration. Spencer’s wife, Janie Lane, was responsible for the restored landscaping, and used century-old photographs to recreate the original grounds, and added new features to the landscaping including a topiary garden.
Visitors experienced the third-floor ballroom, home to generations of family events and the games, which was converted into a sewing room to support the U.S. and British war efforts during World War II.
In opening their family home to the OctoberTour™, the Wallaces shared their family history, and the history of Salisbury as recorded through the eyes of their ancestors.
Mona Lisa Wallace said visitors will appreciate the work of Betty Dan Nicolas Spencer, a historian who has documented not only the history of the house, but the histories of the families who have lived there.
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