Our 3-Day Car Trip, Part 2: Aberdeen, MS

This was our second trip to Aberdeen, MS. Two years ago Greg and I holed up in their city library for a couple of days of Earle & Harrison family research, & visited Aberdeen Antiques. This trip we visited a much-expanded Aberdeen Antiques (662/369-1663) a shop packed with quality Victorian-era items appropriate for Earle-Harrison House. The store’s owner  lives in a mostly-untouched 1852 Greek Revival, The Old Homestead & an antebellum Gothic Revival barn located on 3 1/2 acres in the middle of town.

We also toured The Magnolias, a Greek Revival home completed for a physician/cotton planter in 1850. Dr. Earle probably knew this man well. Some of the building details are similar to Earle-Harrison House: entablature, pilasters, 14′ ceilings, stair banisters & trim, door & window trim and baseboards, indicating that the same pattern book may have been used for both EHH & The Magnolias. The property retains its well house and detached kitchen. I was given permission to go into its unrestored basement where the dining room and food storage area was once setup, it was a highlight of my tour. At the time Dr. Earle’s family lived in Aberdeen, twenty-four woodworkers made mostly pine & walnut furniture, woods indigenous to the area in the 1850’s. An Aberdeen desk is on “permanent loan” to the home, most of the other furnishings are European pieces that would have been ordered in that era for a house of this stature.  A parlor mirror (see photograph) once hung in an 1850’s riverboat that ferried travelers up and down the Tombigbee River – perhaps the same riverboat the Earle & Harrison families took when they left Aberdeen for Texas?

Thomas Harrison’s  Aberdeen home (1838 Harrison-Phelan) is a small Greek Revival structure. We’ve yet to discover if the Earle’s Aberdeen home still exists, whether Dr. Earle had an office, or where their cotton fields were located – all excuses for another future visit.


Our 3-Day Car Trip, Part 1: Garvan Woodland Gardens, Hot Springs, AR

We enjoy short, no-clear-agenda car travel. Back roads with some freeways to shorten the long distances traveled in just a few days, accompanied by NPR radio and ipod tunes.  During this past week’s adventure we camped a couple of nights in the Exterra – an air mattress with sleeping bags is clean, cheap & quite comfortable for our nomadic back-road adventures in cooler weather. We’re always on the lookout for antique & junk stores, yard sales & pottery studios. These adventures almost always include garden and historic house tours. Some trips are worth repeating many times, for us Garvan Gardens is such a place.

A day’s drive from Waco – Garvan Woodland Gardens: In 1985 a 210-acre wooded peninsula on Lake Hamilton near Hot Springs, AR was donated to the University of Arkansas School of Architecture. The donor, Verna Cook Garvan, maintained control of the property and continued to develop it until her death in 1993. A strategic 10-year master plan has served as the road map for existing and future expansion at the gardens which were opened to the public in 2002. Garvan Woodland Gardens is a world-class natural botanical garden.


Inside the gardens – Garvan Pavillion, the activity center for the gardens was designed by E. Fay Jones, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright & the first dean of the UA School of Architecture. Anthony Chapel (depicted below) was designed by Fayetteville, AR architects Maurice Jennings and David McKee. Jennings was a partner to Jones for more than 25 years; Wright’s influences are clearly seen in both the pavillion and chapel.  Double-click the pictures to enlarge for detail.

Andy & Kristen: Event Planned In Three Months

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Yes, a beautiful event is possible with just a few months’ planning. Kristen and Andy didn’t want a long engagement. We had a ‘last-minute’ cancellation that could accommodate Kristen’s desire for a garden setting with a tent. Meant to be.

Kristen’s very talented mom Vickie, and a team of professionals pulled together for this personalized event. Vickie: upholstered chairs used at the sweetheart table, made most of the linen toppers, flowergirl dresses, paper goods & cookie favors. Not every mother wants to or should do this much!  Bryan Lee officiated. Tim & Kristen Douglass/fidelisstudio.com shot the event; MJ Productions provided videography services. Greg Bashera’s string quartet  performed ceremony music. Patti’s Kitchen catered. Donna & Wendy from Wolfe Wholesale Florists arranged the flowers. Bobby Rudeen baked a 5-tier cake, & a family friend provided homemade apple pies. Kevin Ballew DJ’ed. I had fun decorating using natural elements of birds nests/eggs, branches, grapevine, pumpkins & peacock feathers. Vicki’s choice of rust (UT orange) linen toppers  for an A&M couple added a punch of humor that will be fondly remembered.  “This is so Kristen” was heard repeatedly – just what we all wanted to accomplish!

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November 7: A Perfect Fall Day

A perfect fall day with temps in the 70’s. Two hundred guests, wedding on the front side of the gazebo.  The bride’s (florist) uncle from Kansas City, MO made the bouquets, etc., friends cut the burlap toppers; decorations incorporated  our lanterns, grapevine & LED votives. Simple, fall-inspired and perfect for this couple. I wish Greg had shot the tent’s sign-in table – Kathryn Krueger’s bridal photography was stunning.

The garden’s grass is almost dormant, mowing is no longer necessary but sucking up leaves will now begin in earnest. Who’d  believe that picking up leaves is a seven-month cycle in Waco, TX?

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