Monday, March 17, 2014

Talisman and Merry Weather Tour Bisham Manor

On Thursday, March 13th the Merry Weather Garden Club joined the Talisman Garden Club in LaGrange to tour Bisham Manor.  The Talisman club had joined the Meriwether club last fall and found the camaraderie of the tandem meeting lots of fun.

 The clubs toured Bisham Manor, the home of Neil and Trish Liechty that they purchased at auction last fall.  The home was built by Peck Brumby on property that had been in the Young family since 1868. In 1974, the US Army Corps of Engineers took the property for West Point Dam’s resulting development.

 Peck Brumby, whose family has manufactured Brumby rockers since the Civil War, acquired the available land in the 1990s and with it the Tudor home where Mrs. Young had lived. Brumby began building a larger Tudor that doubled the size of the earlier home. Ben Parham of LaGrange did the construction of what became known as “Brumby Castle” which includes magnificent brickwork and details, groined arched ceilings, and unique details such as the original roof tiles from the historic Grove Park Inn.

 Owned jointly with Keith and Jessie Crozier, the Liechtys renamed “Brumby Castle” in honor of Trish Liechty’s great (x 14) grandmother, Margaret Pole, the Countess of Salisbury, and her estate in England. 

The Talisman ladies welcomed the Meriwether club with coffee and brunch nibbles plus handmade floral nametags.  The guide through the gardens was Patricia Striplin of Blue Meadows Farm near Pine Mountain. She explained some of the Liechty’s goals for the estate which are to share them with the community such as the upcoming Art in Bloom fundraiser for the art museum. Striplin explained that she hopes through garden club use, the gardens and estate will be part of the registered listing of national horticultural sites in the U.S. and regularly used by plant enthusiasts.

Liechty explained he bought the estate for a bargain, $2 million, compared to its approximate cost to build and develop, $17 million, but the estate costs him about $600 a day to maintain. The Liechtys have booked a number of weddings and parties, and they hope the manor as an event venue will continue to increase.

The garden tour was impressive.  Descending the steps into a sunken garden area where stones mark off a parterre wheel design, the path leads to a unique swimming pool and fountain area. One currently undeveloped area of forest leads to West Point Lake with great potential for the family and for outdoor entertainment. Another garden path leads through a secret hidden gate and onto Old Young’s Mill Road and the river, mill, waterfall, and shop that was in use until the mid-1900s.

Striplin was a delightful guide pointing out the carefully chosen arbor and shrubbery that because of our long and lingering winter were identifiable only by shape, bark and buds. The delightful touch of spring was the brilliant green winter rye lawn that made those touring note that warmer days were imminent.

The Tudor home interior was a delight as well.  Brumby had duplicated the living room of his mother, who owned a classic Neel Reid home in Atlanta. The wood paneling through most of the rooms and on the stair railings adds to the castle’s grandeur and has a beautiful patina.  Most impressive is the basement’s series of groined arches that create a monastic feel to the area.  Liechty plans to use this lower level-that is complete with hot steam and dry saunas, Jacuzzi, tiled bathrooms and weight room-as a spa facility with masseuse and hair and manicure facilities for the bridal parties and guests’ enjoyment.  The downstairs “man cave” is complete with large screen TV and masculine accoutrements. Outside of this area is a vine draped covered porch with a number of scattered outdoor tables and chairs for al fresco dining.

The upstairs main dining area of the Tudor home echoes the castle feel with a long dining table, high backed chairs, wall sconces, and wooden accents. The kitchen area can accommodate several chefs and the kitchen storage facilities superb with extras like drawers for linens and oversized cabinets for silver.

From the time the club entered the manor’s iron gates and followed the curving drive to the home to their departure, the ladies felt transported to a centuries old European estate.  All agreed it would be a delight to enjoy regular access to the property for special events and for its planned future as a spa.

The Talisman club members then hosted the Merry Weather Garden Club for lunch at Re/Max Realty, formerly the restaurant In Clover.  The ladies found it delightful to again be in what was one of LaGrange’s most beautiful dining venues.  The downstairs was just as all had remembered it and many stories were told of events and special occasions that had taken place there.