#TBT Stepping into the Past: Inside Rattle and Snap Plantation

To go along with this week’s BTL blog post I enjoyed looking back at my visit to the Rattle and Snap Plantation in September of 2013. There are few things I love more than literally stepping back into history, and these amazing plantations are just the place to do that!

Recently, I posted here about my trip to the 1840s antebellum home, the Rattle and Snap Plantation, but only talked about the exterior. Now I’d like to share more about the interior and some insights about the families that lived there. Including the purported ghost who visits occasionally.

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Walking in the front door really did feel as though I’d stepped back in time. The gleaming hardwood floors with the antique furniture and lamps transported me to the 1800s. Oil paintings of George and Sally Polk, the original owners, hung on the back wall of the foyer. Our tour guide, Bobbi Kaslow, pointed out the glass-encased wedding bouquet hung on the wall between the two portraits. They’d found the bouquet in the attic, and have no idea whose it is, but felt it should be presented to Sally. Only a few pieces of the furniture actually belonged to the Polks because they lost everything during the Civil War, being reduced from one of the wealthiest families in the area to poverty.

We next went into the double parlor on the left. This room took up the whole end of the house, with fireplaces at either end, and groups of chairs and settees with accompanying tables arranged down the length. Heavy drapes hung at the windows, pulled back with velvet ties featuring hand-made tassels that cost a fortune to make (I forget the exact amount but it was approximately $1700 just for the tassels). Imported carpets lay beneath the furniture. Small footstools waited in front of many of the chairs. Interestingly, the furniture sat much closer to the floor (shorter legs) than modern furniture, indicating the difference in average height between then and now. I do wish I could share photos of the furnishings, but I was not allowed to take pictures inside due to insurance restrictions.

This feel of antique furniture, mostly dark woods (mahogany, cherry, etc.) and brocade or flowered prints, carried throughout the house. The single parlor on the right end of the house, at the front, was where the ladies would have retired after supper. Here an antique wedding album rested on a lovely curved leg cherry table. A green marble fireplace stood at one side, one of only three marble fireplaces in the building. This parlor contained more feminine accoutrements, like needlepoint projects and flowers in vases.

The dining room contained a large table, set for ten guests, complete with plates and glasses and silver. Of course, with a family of twelve, the Polks filled the table most of the time by themselves! The centerpiece of flowers and individual salt and pepper shakers, though, all made me think of formal dining of the past, something most of us do not do very often if at all. Many family portraits hung on the wall. There was also a pendulum clock that would chime when the family was supposed to pray.

We were fortunate that Bobbi allowed us a sneak peek at the upstairs rooms that have not officially opened for tours yet. I was surprised to find that the ballroom is located on the second floor, surrounded by elaborately furnished bedrooms. These bedrooms were for the many Polk children – ten I believe Bobbi said – and for guests when they entertained. Which they apparently did often.

It’s up here where the ghost has been seen. A group of young teens saw him one night when they were in one of the bedrooms for a sleepover. They saw a tall Confederate soldier walk past the door and go into the back corner bedroom, replete with saber at his side. This soldier has been seen on more than one occasion, and often they find the purely decorative bed mussed in the morning. They believe it’s the ghost of George and Sally’s son, Joseph, who was injured in the battle of Franklin. Although his family believed he’d been killed in action, he managed to return home months later still recovering from his injuries.

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Rattle and Snap and hope to go back again before too long. It’s well worth the small admission price, which goes entirely toward the restoration efforts.

Do you know of another historic home I should visit? If so, what makes it special?

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