Sunday, May 07, 2006

Secret Passageways

I still have fond memories of a trip to the Biltmore mansion as a kid. There are a lot of cool things about it. Worth a trip if you're near Ashville, NC and have some time (i.e. not trying to get to Williamsburg, VA as quick as you can).

But my favorite thing about it was discovering a secret passageway. During the guided tour, which is very interesting and informative by the way, I happened to notice three small circles in the doorframe of one of bedrooms. They were nearly invisible, but the light caught the wood grain just right from where I was standing. Unfortunately, they were too far inside the velvet rope for me to do any further investigation. So, at the end of the tour guide's spiel, she asked if there were any questions, and I spoke up and asked about the circles.

The tour guide was unaware of what I was talking about, but walked over to examine the spot, and ran her fingers over the wood. Remarking that they seemed to be some kind of buttons, she fiddled with them until we all heard a click and a crack in the wall appeared. A gasp from the crowd was followed by one man's opinion that it was a door. After his comment, it suddenly appeared to all that he was correct and with some effort, the guide managed to prove him right by pulling that section of wall back to reveal a dark, musty passageway behind it.

The tour guide swore that this was the first time that she had ever been aware of this particular feature of the house, but speculated that its purpose was to permit house valets and servants access to the various rooms without having to be seen by the VIPs of the house in the general hallways. Now the cynic in me, figures that it is most likely that this passage was not entirely unknown to the estate curators, but that doesn't detract at all from the buzz that was created within our tour group for the rest of the day or from the feeling of adventure it gave to a young boy.

Now, as part of an adventure novel that Rich and I are writing, I've been doing some research on secret rooms and passageways. And I've run across some interesting Internet sites that are linked below for your amusement. Maybe it's not too late for me to build a secret room in my own humble mansion for a young boy or girl to find when they tour a famous author's home one day.

Do-it-yourshelf

Abbey Darned

The Under Warehouse aka We don't need no stinking badges

From the "You Can Make a Secret Room, But You Can't Burn a DVD?" Department

For only 10 Gr Installed, You Too Can Head Down to Granpa's Lab Under the Stairs

2 comments:

codepoke said...

Double wow!

You must have burst your buttons with pride at that discovery. Well done! I am totally jealous.

Great story.

Milly said...

How cool!

I stayed in a bed and breakfast during a ladies retreat I became obsessed with the journals in the room. One had been written about two people who met fell in love, parted only years later to meet again. They had ripped a twenty in half when they parted the first time and hid it in the room I searched and read I knew that things that would be moved from the room for years to come wouldn’t have been the choice. As I read I fell in love with this couple. I found the place where they had hidden the money. They had returned and taken it leaving a note. I left one for them. I was so fun searching.

I can’t wait to read the book