Places and objects often spark the feeling of something hidden from me, just out of my mental or spiritual reach. Having had numerous paranormal experiences in various houses in the south, I've wondered if its the grounds and places that are sensitive or am I the cause of the commotion.
If you've never heard of the Belle Mont Mansion, don't feel left out, alot of people drive by this stately home and never realize it still stands. For years I've wanted to go explore its empty rooms and hear stories of those who lived there, mainly because it is supposed to be haunted. Situated on a hill, just off the highway going to Florence, Belle Mont was rescued in the 80's and is under restoration after falling into disrepair and ruin. The kids and I were taking a short day trip to meet up with my little sister, we decided to see if it was open for tours.
This particular house has pulled me for years, even when I was a child just riding by with someone. I pulled my Oldsmobile into a gravel spot apparently used for parking. No lot and just two other cars there. The pull was stronger, this was as close to the mansion we had ever been. My son felt it too. He gets vibes sometimes. The cheerleader was convinced it was haunted, and refused in her peppy voice to get out of the car. My son (I'll call him "Wizard" here) and I walked around to the wooden front porch and debated whether to knock or just turn the handle. Still saw no one around, so I tugged gently on the aging door, nothing. Turning to go back to the car defeated, my eye caught the view from the porch for the first? time. In the 1830's there would have been no highway, but a dirt road cutting through the cotton fields (someone has planted corn there this year.) I kept thinking there were supposed to be more trees or something, weird.
Just as we were climbing back into the car, an older gentelman (the acting-curator) introduced himself, stating he was in the middle of a tour, but if we'd like to see the house we could join them and he would fill us in at the end of their tour on the beginning. So, Wizard, Cheerleader, Starlight(youngest daughter) and I met them in the courtyard. He began telling us about the slave quarters and various outdoor buildings, long since gone dilapidated and swallowed up by the surrounding forest. Wizard kept poking me in the arm saying (Mom, there was a barn there) before the guide actually told us.
We all made our way up the open staircase to the second floor sitting room, where another porch jutted out over the first one (palladian style). There we found the view I knew should exist. An eerie chill went through me as I turned a saw my girls looking out the big window across from the doors. For a moment they were little again, red and brown curls flowing down the backs of long dresses. I blinked and the moment was gone.
I awed at the circa 1800's French silk Fluer de lis wallpaper, rosewood trim, and a history of strangely familiar people. I got to see a first edition copy of Lady of the Lake (one of my favorites). Everything there was within reach, but respected enough to leave untouched. We were guests within history, instead of intruders looking through iron gates. Her worn floors still scuffed, plaster still peeling and cracked waiting to be gently restored, like an old woman someone finally remembered.
We didn't find any ghosts or ghouls, or maybe the ghosts were inside us. We found a blessed hour of peace spent with each other wandering through a time capsule. If you'd like to know more about Belle Mont, click here http://www.preserveala.org/bellemont.aspx?sm=g_c
Beth (who is anxiously awaiting the five oclock whistle. The kids and I are going to watch the new Harry Potter movie. YAY!)