You know the old saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure?” Well, I imagine the same could be true about what constitutes a relic. This week’s photo challenge theme on Word Press has been relic.
One of the definitions of the word says a relic is “an object surviving from an earlier time, especially one of historical or sentimental interest.” For some, a relic may be just an uninteresting piece of old junk, for another it is fascinating.
On our recent trip south, we visited the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. Now that place is full of relics – items of historical interest that truly are captivating like furniture, vintage clothing, period décor accessories, old photographs, and original artwork by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and John Singer Sargent.
But I suppose if you weren’t interested in history or the culture of that bygone era, you could find it boring. Not us. My history loving husband found it intriguing and my imaginative self found it equally enchanting.
The impressive ‘big house’ is a 250 room chateau-style mansion which was built and completed in 1895 for George Vanderbilt as a retreat for his family and friends. It sits on 8000 acres, much of it wooded and all of it beautiful, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
As we toured only the rooms open to the general public, I could imagine folks a century ago coming and going. Arriving in the foyer with trunks in tow for an extended stay. Enjoying the elaborate indoor winter garden on a blustery cold day. Lounging on a chaise reading in the library with floor to ceiling shelves holding 10,000 books.
Genteel ladies escorted by well-mannered gentlemen on a carriage ride through the estate. Elegantly attired folks feasting in the banquet hall where 64 guests could dine around a 40-foot long table. Getting some recreation in the indoor swimming pool, bowling alley, or gymnasium. Enjoying a summer breeze and gorgeous view on the loggia. Strolling arm and arm through the magnificent gardens. It is the stuff that historical romantic novels are made of.
Taking a day to ‘go back in time’ proved fascinating for the two of us. Hubby’s love of historical trivia was sated. He posed a question to a Biltmore staff member about an aspect he noticed in the banquet hall, and she answered with surprise that he was correct. She added that in the 11 years that she had worked there, no one had ever gotten that connection on his own. That’s my husband!
And my fascination with vintage things and love for photography was equally satisfied, although I had to be content with only taking pictures outside as no indoor photography is allowed since it is still a privately owned home. Still there were many photo ops to capture my eye.
All of those relics at the Biltmore have been carefully preserved because someone believed they were worthy of being safeguarded. And that makes me think about my own relics. I have a few – they’re not priceless by any means when it comes to monetary value. They’re only priceless to me because they belonged to a family member now long gone.
As I glance around my home at my furnishings, artwork, and personal belongings, I wonder if there’s any item here that someday might be considered a relic and if anyone will consider it precious enough to keep. Time will tell.
“Any relic of the dead is precious, if they were valued living.” ~ Emily Bronte in Wuthering Heights