Friday, December 10, 2010


Subj: Plantation Manor
Date: Sat Nov 4 23:04:04 EST 2000

We chalked up another long drive, from Charleston, SC to Jacksonville, Florida. We arrived in Jacksonville around 8:30 p.m. to find the interstate torn up with construction work right where we needed to get off. We had to get off at the next exit and turn around and get off at the exit before.

We saw a lot more of downtown Jacksonville than either of us had expected. When we finally were able to get to the other side of town, we were both tuckered out.

The neighborhood our digs for the night was in was a residential area close to a river. We drove around and around looking for the place, but kept coming up empty. At least it was a pleasant drive, even if it was going on 9:00 p.m. and dark.

We were both quite taken with one particular home. In an area of beautiful homes and gracious grounds, this one just stood out. It was a stunning white columned home with well kept lawns all around it, surrounded by a wrought iron fence and a beautifully crafted arch gateway that just looked welcoming. As it turned out, we can testify that the gate was welcoming, that the house was stunning - inside and out - and that the owners, although Northern by birth, were steeped in the tradition of Southern hospitality. Because that outstanding house turned out to be Plantation Manor, our home for the night.

Of my, that place was impossible to do justice to - and we would never have known about it if it had not been for a friend for Elsa's, Ray Lipps, who mentioned it when she was visiting him and his wife, Diana, at their home in Summit, NJ. Ray asked where we were staying in Jacksonville and was told we had not decided - there were a couple affordable places Elsa had her eye on. He gave a great pitch for the place he stayed at - for weeks on end - whenever he worked out of Prudential's Jacksonville office. Because we were friends of Ray's, the owners charged us the corporate rate. My goodness, all that beauty for under $100 a night.

Plantation Manor caters to long-stay guests, so there was no sense of rush, just a continual invitation to linger. It was built near the end of the last century. The interior is all warm woods.

Pete would have loved it.

Our room was at the top of a magnificent flight of steps. I can still recall the feel of the banister under my hand, the smooth wood somehow warm to my touch.

What a room. It was huge and impeccably decked out. A huge four poster bed took up about 1/4 of the room. The ceilings appeared to be no less than 12'. The white drapes on the 3 floor-to-ceiling windows were drawn for privacy. The walls were a deep teal green until about 2' from the ceiling, when they turned a lovely shade of light blue, the two colors divided by dark molding. To the right, outside the bathroom, was a long gold gilt mirror and a pink-striped with flowers chintz couch, as comfortable as it was beautiful.

And the bathroom - it was as large as our room at the Heritage Inn. It had a long bay window with window seat and lace curtains.

Back in the bed room, there was an area for sitting, with a small but not too small round table covered with a very pretty, very feminine cloth, draping down to the ground. A few moments after we were settled in for the night, the owner arrived with a hot pot of decaf, bone china cups and saucers, and slices of lemon pound cake with an out-of-this-world glazed icing.

It was heaven to sit there, in front of drawn brocade curtains, sipping delicious coffee and soaking in the sheer, unbridled civility of it all.

(Did I mention the bathroom featured a deep, clawed bathtub and a shower that was about the size of our den powder room?)

I haven't mentioned the TV. It will give you an idea of the room when I say that the TV did not dominate - unusual because the screen was 3' wide, if not more. It was right next to the fireplace, which was set into a section of white wood, the fire place flanked by columns that extended up about 8' to where they ended in a shelf. On top of the shelf was a wooden white swan ... and a pink chamber pot. On the other side of the fireplace was an antique secretary desk and chair.

We savored our coffee, each wallowed in a hot bath (while I luxuriated in mine, Elsa made her nightly call to John), moved the stuffies from the mountain of goose down pillows to the low table at the foot of the bed, then buried ourselves under the warm, soft blankets, said prayers, and floated blissfully off to sleep.

It was a never-to-be-forgotten room in an unbelievably beautiful house with a genial and generous host.

Good night to all of you, my dear friends and loved ones. Love - CyberGram

reposted in celebration of Cybergram's 05/14 centenary

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