So it's fitting I post pictures today of my muse house. See, I'm deep into plotting my next novel, a post-WWI Southern Gothic tale. My genius sister has been the best sounding board I could have asked for, offering advice as I work through characters and plot kinks. And, as a bonus, she's getting her master's degree in historic preservation in one of the most quintessentially Southern cities in the country, so she's a wealth of knowledge on Southern architecture and the way it influences culture. This is a bonus because of the house.
It's me writing this book, so you knew there'd be a big, creepy, dilapidated house, right?
She sent me a link to an antebellum mansion in west Alabama called Rosemount Plantation. I looked at the photos and fell in love:
I fell in love not with the grandness, but with the disrepair. These photos were taken in 1934. The house is still there today, and probably in mint condition now, but...but...just look at it in the dead of the Great Depression. The broken shutters, the dirty siding, the exposed brick. Love, love, love.
Here's the back:
And another view:
The front door:
And a few remaining outbuildings:
The slave quarters is the house on the left, which burned soon after this photo was taken. The well house is on the right.
And while we're talking slave quarters: I don't romanticise the antebellum South. It was not a good time for the majority of people living in it. I'm much, much more interested in life after that period - after all the grandness was stripped away. How white people coped, surrounded by relics of a grand age that wouldn't come again, and haunted by the behavior of their ancestors. How black people coped with freedom not bringing equality with it. How both had to learn new ways to interact, and how both cultures formed different - but not always better - relationships with each other, and how those changed over time.
Whew, the tangents today. Sorry.
I think my sister and I inherited a love of old things in large part from our mom, and in small part simply by being raised here. It's a bad cliche, but it doesn't make it less true: as Southerners, we're fascinated by history. We can't help it.
If you want to see more pics of Rosemount taken in the 1930s for a Historic American Buildings survey, click here. I promise I'll try to stop posting photos of old houses...unless I come across some really cool ones.