Mansions, Castles, and Movies

I had a great and busy weekend but, it was relaxing too. It was a good mixture of all things. I think it really helped that we didn’t have anything to do Friday night and all day on Saturday. In fact, our Saturday we were sort of in shock at how slow the day was going.

So Saturday night I was finally able to meet some of the people my husband works with. Great group of guys and very eclectic. When I walked into their offices and then met some of the guys, I told my husband it was like a movie. Seriously. You wouldn’t believe it until you saw it, and then you still wouldn’t really believe it.

I am going to try and explain a few things but, I know I will never do it justice. We went out Saturday night to what Steve calls, “The Mansion” or sometimes, “The Castle”. It is a former mansion just outside of downtown Minneapolis that one of the guys bought and uses for his company’s offices. We were going there for an art show of some sort that night. The art show was in the carriage house of the mansion. The carriage house is amazing and looks like a mini version of the mansion on the outside. The inside is beautiful too however, they didn’t restore it to its original splendor like the mansion. It still has the beautiful stained glass windows and wood stairs and a very ornate railing upstairs but, the walls and ceiling are just plain walls. I am sure there was beautiful wood underneath or something as it used to be the stables for the carriage horses.

It was filled with people and artwork. It was VERY fun to people watch and wow, some of the outfits those ladies had on! Wow. I actually saw black, skin tight, serious skin tight full length hot pants. I also saw many very body hugging dresses and phew, short, short, short skirts. But, I will say, everyone wearing those things definitely had the body to do so. Once again, I was the ‘fat chick’ in the room however, think that was expected as I was also probably the only one with 4 children. I can’t say I was the oldest as there were a few women definitely older than me. Oh, and the diamonds these ladies had on! Wow. Like I said, really good people watching.

Now, the mansion. It is amazing. It is the Van Dusen Mansion in historic Stevens Square just SW of downtown. One of the few left as most around have been torn down and it is old run down strips of commercial property and apartments with some older homes scattered around but, only a couple other mansions. It is beautiful, inside and out. I as many of you know, am fascinated with history and especially the history of old homes. I was trying to find history on this old house and really, there isn’t much out there! Sort of made me sad but, I will tell you, the house speaks a lot once you walk through the doors.

One of my favorite things about that house is the steps from the driveway to the back door. Underneath the carriage entrance is a gate to the left. I didn’t think much of it until Steve pointed it out. The steps and the gate are at the exact height for getting into a carriage! It is really, really neat and you can picture the family standing outside the back door waiting to get into the carriage to go on an outing somewhere.

I didn’t get to see all of the house because it is used as an office building now so, many of the bedrooms are used as offices. But, they have made that an office building without taking away any of the history or charm of the house. One of the offices, which the guys call the Bridal Suite which I found out in research was really the ballroom, is breathtaking. (I think they call it the Bridal Suite because it was a bed and breakfast right before this business moved in.)

It is beautiful and elegant. A marble fireplace with windows and a grand chandelier that is over 7 feet tall hangs in a dome that is hand painted. Now, all of this is recreated but, they did a great job with it.

Once of the first things I noticed when I walked into the office were some wide steps leading to two windows. I wondered out loud why there were steps leading to the windows and if they were steps at all or maybe just meant to be window seats? I quickly found out they were steps and they led to a wonderland! Steve led me out one of the windows onto the top of the turret in front and into the most beautiful view of downtown Minneapolis I have ever seen. It was truly magical. I could only imagine all of the hot summer nights spent out on that rooftop over looking the growing city over the years. I could have sat out there for hours but, it was a bit chilly and misting a bit so we went back inside after a few minutes.

At this time we finish our evening sitting in this HUGE office chit chatting and me meeting more people Steve knows from work. I am telling you all right now, you couldn’t write a movie and cast a better group of actors, it was very surreal. From the autographed script from the movie Wall-Street to the mint coins, from the 7 foot chandelier to the 15-20 TV and computer screens, from the antique bed tucked away into a dormer to the huge office table the whole room was almost magical. The antiques, the modern things, the collectibles, it was all very surreal yet, very, very real.

Then the cast of characters. Wow, can’t even begin to describe that. You would think I was talking about a movie. There is the guy who used to work on the Chicago trading floor, the owner who owns this mansion yet, lives in Burnsville because his wife likes it out there, the guy who has a lawyer for a wife and cracked me up all night with his stories of doing PX90 workouts with his son and I was able to talk sports with. Then there is the single, young guy looking for a little more action and asking, ‘when we going out?’ as the night got later and later. Or the guy who is a radio talk show guy in his later years and loving life and hanging with a beautiful younger woman. Then, we move on to the other guy who lives in Burnsville whose in laws are the former chief of police in a big suburb and a divorce lawyer. Then, add in the husband and wife who live in Richfield, (a small middle income WWII neighborhood) with 4 children and the wife is a stay at home mom.

Ok, now doesn’t that sound like a great list of characters?! I only gave you all a glimpse into the night and the people there. Oh, it really was one of those, you had to be there, nights. It was great. I had a great time and it was a fun group of guys that I hope to see and hang out with again as you truly can only dream up an evening like that.

I am starting to believe that Hollywood isn’t so far off in some of their movies 🙂

So, if any of you would like more information on the VanDusen Mansion, please visit their website at www.vandusencenter.com they have a convention area connected to the mansion and they rent it out for weddings, meetings, receptions, etc all the time. It truly is like stepping back in time. I can’t promise the characters will all be there, you might have to supply your own list of actors but, the mansion and carriage house will blow your mind.

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