Growing up I had an image of a certain type of “lady” I aspired to be. She was “fancy” and since I grew up in the early 70’s, I pictured her wearing a dress, hat and gloves with matching shoes and handbag. I did not imagine that she worked but instead she attended luncheons and charity events. Of course, at the end of the day she was always back home ready to greet her family with a deliciously comforting meal on the dinner table.
Clearly, I am a product of 1970’s TV shows, Barbie dolls and stereo types! I did not in fact grow up to be this type of lady. I work full time, I’m not very fancy and I don’t get to attend many luncheons or charity events. Recently however, I got to pretend just for a little while that I WAS one of the fancy ladies as I attended one of my favorite bi-annual events, MANSION IN MAY.
Typically held every other year, Mansion in May Designer Show House and Gardens is the preeminent fundraising event of the Women’s Association of Morristown Medical Center. The mansion is open every day in the month of May from 10am to 3pm -the last ticket is sold at 3pm. Tickets are $50 and children under 12 are not permitted.
During mansion years, the featured mansion is carefully selected based on a number of criteria. Designers are then invited to preview the space and create proposals for specific rooms. After being selected, which is a prestigious honor, they get to work over the next several months to create the fantastical rooms that become the “showhouse.” These rooms are the types that dreams are made of as each one is more beautiful than the next.
On a beautiful Thursday morning, I found myself giddy with excitement for my special “girls day out” with some of my favorite friends. This was the perfect way to use one of my coveted personal days! We took the gorgeous drive out to Morristown where this year’s mansion was located. Alnwick Hall -The Abby is one of the last mansions situated on the portion of Madison Avenue in Morris Township known as “Millionaire’s Row.” All parking is off site and though google maps had us driving in circles for a bit, we finally parked and hopped on the shuttle bus with other enthusiastic visitors. Our first impression was breathtaking! The home and the gardens have a unique castle like look that truly made us feel we were being transported back to the days of Rockefellers and Vanderbilts. Since we had purchased our tickets online we merely had to check in, have our tickets scanned and then begin our tour. As we waited on a short line outside The Abby we learned some of the history of the home along with some of its unique features from one of the many volunteers. As we entered the home, our senses went into overdrive with the all of the magnificent colors, textures and special features in each of the 39 rooms. Every space is unique and each has a docent ready to fill in interesting details about the design and often some tidbit about that particular area. So many of the rooms made us sigh as we could imagine ourselves living in such opulence. Interestingly, every item in the showhouse is for sale. Anyone who is interested in purchasing an item whether big or small can visit designer sales in room #28 where a purchase can be paid for and later picked up after June 1.
We spent a couple of delightful hours meandering through the house as we chatted about which of the spaces we liked best.
As we wandered to the outdoor areas we again found ourselves joy filled as we explored the 17 garden spaces. Each outdoor area was different and beautiful in its own way. Wow! The work and talent to create the event was truly spectacular.
Next, we were excited to visit, “The Shops at Madison Avenue” a collection of pop up boutiques filled with baubles and treasures perfect for “fancy ladies!” Our day concluded with a lady like lunch in the onsite café. Inside a gorgeous tent, we explored the delectable options available from David Ellis Events. Soups, salads, hot entrees and sandwiches were available along with fresh brewed ice-tea, lemonade and yummy desserts. Visitors were invited to dine either inside the elegantly decorated tent or outdoors among the gardens. This is also the area where guests are invited to vote for their favorite room and garden. At the end of the month these results will be tallied in order for the coveted “Tulip Awards” to be presented.
Our day of being, “ladies who lunch” had come to a conclusion and now we had to return to our regular lives. We had photos, souvenirs purchased in the boutiques and many memories. It was fun pretending to be fancy and exploring how the rich of days gone by lived. However, as we returned to our own families and homes our hearts became abundantly full. While we are not quite the “fancy ladies” I once aspired to be, we each are RICH with the blessings of wonderful families and friends and that’s more than enough for me!!