In the spring, our dad always went to dock our flat-bottomed, family-made fishing boat on the lake shore. This particular spring day, he was farther down the lake than he thought. When he walked up the hill, he found himself at an abandoned yellow brick mansion on ten acres of formerly beautifully landscaped property.
As my dad would tell the story later; the birds were singing, the sun was just popping up and the mystic of the hidden glory of an era past, overcame him. He awakened the real estate man, and had looked over this mansion by early morning. Three floors: the top one being a large dance hall with two large porches. The second floor with huge bedrooms and an open staircase with a balcony and two landings – like Scarlet O’Hara came down at Tara in “Gone With the Wind.” The first floor with living room, mahogany paneled and tapestry dining room, oak paneled library, huge tiled kitchen with pantry, solarium and porte-cochere – for horses. In the back were stables, a huge fish pond, a lion head fountain and trees imported from all over the world.
My dad had bought the mansion before my mother was awake. Today, that purchase would need husband and wife signatures, but the purchase stood. My mother woke up the proud owner of a yellow brick mansion. Already, my dad’s vision was to turn it into apartments and that is what happened. My mother proved to be a genius at carving apartments out of existing rooms. Our family eventually moved into one of the apartments. This was a turning point in our family’s life.
Some ten years later, when the project was complete, my dad had time to take graduate courses at the University of Illinois. He became a scholar of the founding fathers of our country. His name is Charles Carrol Wilson and there is a founding father: Charles Carrol of Maryland.
As a young housewife in Washington, D.C., years later, I was looking at a Smithsonian Magazine and did a double take of a yellow brick mansion that looked exactly like the mansion my dad bought. This mansion was near Baltimore and had been built by Charles Carrol – the Founding Father – for his son! Yellow bricks and all! I still wonder at such a mysterious coincidence!