Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Haunted Houses of Vicksburg Part II: Cedar Grove Mansion

This is the second in a series of posts featuring the "Haunted Houses of Vicksburg." If you would like to read the first story about The Ghosts of Anchuca, you can click on the link.

Today, I'd like to tell the story of Cedar Grove Mansion and Inn.

Cedar Grove was opened as a two-room bed and breakfast inn in 1980, and over the last 30 years, it has evolved into the 34-room inn of today.

My husband and I have stayed at Cedar Grove on several occasions and enjoyed seeing its beautiful architectural details and elegant furnishings, many of which are original to the house.

I would like to thank the staff of Cedar Grove for sharing with me stories of their personal encounters with some of Cedar Grove's "spirits," and for allowing me "free rein" to tour their lovely inn and capture it with my camera.

Before I share those stories and my pictures, I need to tell you a little about the history of Cedar Grove, and introduce some of the "characters" who may still be roaming through its beautiful rooms today.

I borrowed the following information about its history from Cedar Grove's website:

The History of Cedar Grove

Once upon a time in the land of cotton, there lived a planter and a businessman by the name of John Alexander Klein. Being a shrewd young man, he diversified his wealth in the fields of banking, lumber and cotton until he could afford a wife and a family. Elizabeth Bartley Day came to New Orleans to visit relatives. The young girl's face never left his mind.

He began the Greek Revival style mansion we know as Cedar Grove in 1840, while he waited patiently for Elizabeth to mature into the beautiful young woman he wanted to grace both his arm and his home. In 1842, he married Elizabeth. She was 16, he was 30.

Then off to Europe for a year-long honeymoon. While there, Klein bought many of the furnishings we now find at Cedar Grove like the Italian marble fireplaces, French empire gasoliers, Bohemian glass for the doorway, towering gold leaf mirrors, and exquisite clocks and paintings that adorn the mansion.... When the young couple returned to Vicksburg, they lived in the poolside cottage as the beautiful and elegant Cedar Grove developed underneath the skilled hands of many craftsmen. In 1852, Cedar Grove was finished.

Then the War came and Cedar Grove experienced bombardment by cannon. A cannon ball is still lodged in the parlor wall. Mrs. Klein experienced rejection in Vicksburg due to her family ties to General William T. Sherman.

The Kleins survived the War with their house intact mainly because it had been used as a Union hospital.

I found the following information about some of Cedar Grove's "ghosts" at Haunted Houses of Vicksburg:

John and Elizabeth Klein loved their home. John Klein liked to smoke a pipe in his favorite chair in the Gentleman's Parlor on the first floor, and Elizabeth Klein took pride in her home and family.

Though well-off because of good planning and luck, in other aspects, tragedy did strike the family several times:

One of the Klein's sons, a 17-year-old boy, was accidentally shot on the back outside stairway when the gun he was carrying was accidentally dropped and discharged; one daughter died in an upstairs bedroom probably from a childhood disease, and two infants died in the nursery of unknown causes. When the family sold the property and mansion to someone outside the family in 1919, three family graves were moved to a cemetery; Cedar Grove was used as a Union Hospital, and some men obviously died there during that time ....

It seems that various entities of the Klein family have moved back in and are sharing their home with the living.

The entity of John Klein still is master of his home, perhaps not quite trusting the living's judgment, and keeps a fatherly eye on the staff, owners, and guests. When someone enters or goes near his Gentleman's Parlor and he doesn't like them for some reason, the smell of a pipe can suddenly be noticed (I didn't notice it, so perhaps he liked me).

The sounds of children playing and the sounds of a baby crying have been heard.

The entity of Elizabeth Klein has been seen walking down the front stairs of the home she loved so much, just happily going about her business.

One of the graves moved in 1919, was of a little girl, perhaps the daughter who died in the 2nd floor bedroom. The entity of this little girl has been seen by staff and guests and often heard going up and down the steps leading to the second floor. She looks lost, sad and puzzled.

Footsteps have been heard going up the outside stairway, which are perhaps made by the teenage son still trying to come home.

Other people have claimed to see some entities of Civil War-era soldiers wandering around the mansion, and sometimes going up the stairs.

I spoke with Kathy, the front desk manager at Cedar Grove, and she graciously took the time to share a couple of stories about the staff's encounters with some of the "spirits." Kathy said they have heard the children on several occasions, and she said they have also had some unusual occurrences of glasses flying off the shelves in the bar area. One day, Kathy heard a glass break, then a few seconds later, heard several more break. She went to check on the bartender, and found him standing far away from the bar, and he told her that, "One by one, the glasses were sliding to the front of the shelf and falling off."

I also spoke with Tomeka, with the housekeeping staff, and asked if she had experienced, or seen, any unusual happenings. Tomeka told me that sometimes when they make up the bed in what used to be one of the children's rooms, a few minutes later it looks as if someone has been lying on the bed.

I took pictures of the bed and kept watching it to be sure it didn't move while I was in the room. I'm not sure what I would have done if it had, but I probably wouldn't have stayed long enough to get a picture.

The following are pictures I captured of some of the elegant rooms and furnishings during my visit to Cedar Grove.

This is the staircase where Elizabeth's "spirit" has been seen ...

One piece of custom-made furniture kept in the family dining room, turned out to be invaluable in the future of the Klein family. During the Civil War and Union occupation, the family fortune was kept hidden away in a compartment safe, well-concealed in plain sight, but disguised as a lovely piece of furniture. The Union Army never suspected a thing. This piece of furniture still sits in the same place of honor in the dining room.

Kathy was kind enough to open it for me. The door was very heavy and appeared to be made of iron, with a veneer of wood on the front.

The beautiful drawers look like they are made of rosewood ...

This gorgeous Embossed Brass Plaque is on the front of the safe's door ...

And here is the rest of the lovely dining room ...

Isn't this silver napkin holder/bud vase exquisite!
And I love the silver charger in the above picture.

This is the famous cannonball that was lodged in the wall of the front parlor:

Front Parlor, with original Black Marble Mantel ...

I assume this room is the "Back Parlor" ...

The housekeepers were working in several of the rooms, so I wasn't able to take pictures of all of them. This last room is called "Queen Victoria's Room" ...

After touring the inside of Cedar Grove, I enjoyed walking around the grounds. These two statues greet guests on the front lawn:

This lovely gazebo is a favorite backdrop for wedding and reception photographs.

I hope you enjoyed the photo tour of Cedar Grove, and enjoyed reading about the family who lovingly built it almost 160 years ago. May their spirits rest in peace knowing that their beautiful home is being enjoyed by so many today.

If you are planning a trip to Vicksburg and would like to see Cedar Grove for yourself, you can visit their website at Cedar Grove Inn for more information.


Judy said...

Cedar Grove was by far my favorite place in Vicksburg. We were so fortunate the day we visited they were not busy so we had free reign to roam and snoop at our leisure. I loved trying to imagine how it would feel to live on a daily basis in this home with its magnificent furnishings....except I couldn't do without modern conveniences! Thanks for this walk down memory lane...can't wait to come back to Vicksburg.

Erica (Irene) said...

Thank you so much for your tour, I enjoyed it immensely. What a gorgeous estate.....and beautiful furnishings.

I would love to live in that era, I think that was my fave time.Thanks again for sharing and glad you had a great time.

D.B. said...

I am enjoying these virtual tours so much! Thank you for sharing these gems. I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!

RachelD said...

Gracious and beautiful, and sweetly serene for all the troubles of the past.

Thank you for taking us on such a lovely tour!

Unknown said...

Hi Janie,
I've toured this house twice, and love it....thanks for all the information.

I've heard it before, but now I can read it again and maybe it will stick with me!


Merisi said...

What a wonderful virtual tour, thank you so much!

I got a little nostalgic, looking at the gorgeous dining room! Our table and chairs in DC were of the same style (our table had two full pedestals). Unfortunately, we sold it when we moved (for a pittance, our dachshund had taken a liking to the ball and claw of one of the pedestals). Of course, it was not original, but a 20th century reproduction, well crafted, though.

Deb said...

great tour as usual...and great photos...I'm never disapointed when I stop by to visit...

Dorothy said...

Thank you for the lovely photos and a very pleasant reminder of a house I enjoyed visiting in 2004. While I was there I actually witnessed something happen. If you are interested in hearing about it, just let me know.