Saturday, September 14, 2013

Return to Hannibal

We only had about 100 miles to drive from Springfield to Hannibal, and the overnight storms were moving east as we moved westward. By the time we reached the Mark Twain Cave Campground, the sun was shining.

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We had dinner at LaBinnah Bistro, a unique restaurant recommended by our friends Jim and Nancy Tidball in their blog when they were here recently.

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The meal didn’t disappoint, in fact was really delicious, and we enjoyed talking with Arif, the owner, who remembered Jim and Nancy!

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Each table had at least one fresh rose in a slim vase, and cute salt/pepper shakers that hug!

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Yesterday we took a one-hour tour on the riverboat Mark Twain down the Mississippi River. It was peaceful and enjoyable.

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Captain Steve Terry was competent and narrated some interesting stories and a few jokes.

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As we moved away from the river bank, it was interesting to see Hannibal from the water.

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The Hannibal Boat Club was built high to prevent floods. However, at one time it was filled with 2 feet of water when the river flooded.

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Captain Steve obviously has lots of experience controlling this riverboat.

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Toward the end of the tour, he gave up control to a possible future riverboat pilot, perhaps with dreams of following the path of Mark Twain’s life. With Mom, Dad and brother in the background, you can barely see the small hands on the wheel.

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Later, we toured the Rockcliffe Mansion.

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It was built between 1898 and 1900 by lumber baron John J. Cruikshank, Jr. He lived there with his wife and four daughters until his death in 1924. The mansion was then abandoned for 43 years and was scheduled for demolition in 2 weeks (in 1967) when three local families decided to buy it and begin restoring it. Some of the porches and balconies, as seen in the picture below, were lost and many layers of grime had accumulated, but the house was remarkably well-built and withstood the test of time extremely well.

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Most of the furnishings, wallpaper and decorations are original. Even these liquor bottles are the same as when the family lived here.

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Many hand-carved details and hand-painted wallpapers are noticeable throughout the home.

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Several large windows on the first floor raise into the walls above and become doorways to the outside. Of course, the loss of some of the porches prevents that access now. Notice the silk upholstery in this sitting room that hasn’t weathered the years well. (Sorry the picture is dark; I wasn’t allowed to use flash.)

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Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) spoke from this grand staircase during his last visit to Hannibal in 1902.

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The house next door was originally built on the site of this mansion, but Cruikshank moved it over so he could build on the choice site.

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With this kind of view and the Mississippi River in the distance, I can see why he preferred this site.

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The current owner, a single man from Cuba, conducted the tour and told some of his plans for ongoing restoration. He operates the house as a Bed & Breakfast, as did the immediate past owners, to help support the cost of upkeep.

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This huge stained glass window at the first landing is from Tiffany, as are several of the lamps and chandeliers.

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This door even has a Tiffany insert.

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There’s a different view on the other side, and it’s not two layers of glass, just different sides.

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Here are some of the 9 bedrooms and 7 baths. The family’s bedrooms are on the 2nd floor. First, Mrs. Cruikshank’s bed…

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…and sitting area.

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Her bathroom has a sitz bath, as well as tub, lavatory, toilet, etc.

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One of the daughters’ beds, with original hand-made quilt.

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Mr. Cruikshank’s bathroom was very large. I noticed that all of the toilets had the water tanks mounted high, so that gravity helped with flushing.

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The bed in which Mr. Cruikshank passed away.

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More bedrooms are on the second floor, some used by other daughters plus a guest room. Here are today’s bedrooms on the third floor, where servants would have lived. Large beds from the period barely fit in some of them with restricted ceiling heights.

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There’s a sewing room.

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A school room.

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And a ballroom.

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7 comments:

  1. So glad you had a chance to do the mansion tour. When we were there, they talked about the ghosts in the mansion. We did the daytime cruise too. One hour was perfect.

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  2. Dinner cruise did NOT get the Skipper's narration, which we would have liked. We did the trolley tour and stopped in front of the mansion, but didn't go in. Thanks for sharing the rest of the story and photos.

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  3. Dinner cruise did NOT get the Skipper's narration, which we would have liked. We did the trolley tour and stopped in front of the mansion, but didn't go in. Thanks for sharing the rest of the story and photos.

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  4. Dinner cruise did NOT get the Skipper's narration, which we would have liked. We did the trolley tour and stopped in front of the mansion, but didn't go in. Thanks for sharing the rest of the story and photos.

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  5. Glad you liked the meal. We really enjoyed Hannibal.

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  6. My great grandmother passed away near Hannibal, MO and two of her children were placed in "The Home For The Friendless" for a short time. My grandfather wasn't placed there, but went to live with another family. The Home for the Friendless turned into an Orphans home later and was run by Laura Hawkins who was the model for Becky Thatcher of Mark Twain lore.

    We visited Hannibal a number of years ago and found it to be a neat old river town.

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