Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday Fun: My Childhood Home

I thought it would be fun to share some pictures of my childhood home today (no, it wasn't one of these gorgeous mansions!). My dad was the caretaker for the Musser & Weyerhaeuser Estate (above) and we lived in the carriage house below the hill. It sounds a bit like Sabrina, doesn't it? :) The estate wasn't quite as elaborate, but it was still a very magical place to grow up. I had a unique upbringing, to say the least, and it greatly impacted my love for history. 

This was my childhood home, the carriage house

 Here's a bit of the history of the estate:

Charles A. Weyerhaeuser and Richard “Drew” Musser came to Minnesota in 1891 and managed the Pine Tree Lumber Company, which was founded in 1890 by their fathers.

The Weyerhaeuser Home (green house) and Musser home (white house) are neighboring mansions that occupy nine acres of wooded land on top of a small bluff called Linden Hill, overlooking the Mississippi river. These homes were designed by Clarence H. Johnston, the most significant architectural figure in Minnesota, and they were built in the shingle style in 1898.
In 1920 the Pine Tree Lumber Company closed and the Weyerhaeusers moved their business to Washington State, where the company is still prominent today. Drew Musser stayed in Little Falls and went into banking. His daughter, Laura Jane, took over the green house in the 1950's after returning from New York City where she attended Juilliard. Laura Jane Musser was the last family member to live on the estate and when she passed away in 1989, the property was given to the city and is now operated as Linden Hill Historical Event Center. Laura Jane was a huge fan of the Wizard of Oz and her amazing collection of memorabilia is still in the green house. She and Margaret Hamilton (The Wicked Witch of the West) met in New York City and became life long friends. Margaret visited Laura Jane many times at her home.

Margaret Hamilton (left) and Laura Jane
We moved into the carriage house when I was three years old. I have wonderful memories of Laura Jane and our time on the estate. It's still one of my favorite places on Earth.

Two weeks ago it was just my hubby and the twins and I, so we took out the Jeep and visited my old stomping grounds. You can see why this place is still very magical to me and I love sharing it with my own family - and now you. 

My handsome men

The school house
The pool house, which has now been filled in, was the
location we had out Groom's Dinner. Before the
twins were born my mother & mother-in-law
held a shower for me in the white house and over seventy
friends and family came with gifts and love (we didn't
 need to buy diapers for four months!). I continue to
make great memories on this estate.

The "barn" at the bottom of the hill. This was my dad's
"office" so to speak and I have memories of planting the
garden here and picking eggs in the chicken coop.
This was my backyard, at the bottom of Linden Hill where
my sister and I would play house every day. There was
a little garden gnome that held a book and I used to
sit in front of him and pretend he was reading to me...

There are nine acres of land and we had the run of
almost half of it (the part that was at the bottom of
the hill). We enjoyed skating on the pond, sledding
down the hill, playing baseball in the yard and imagining
what it would be like to live in the mansions.
This was our sledding hill in the winter. My parents
always had a huge New Year's Eve party here. You can
see part of the white house through the trees. Our house
was to the left of this picture.

The view from our backyard... The Mississippi River

This is "The Point," which is falling into disrepair. There
used to be a chimney in the middle where we roasted
marshmallows and popped Jiffy Popcorn.

I hope you enjoyed a little trip down memory lane with me today! I have an amazing story brewing in my head for this estate...I can't wait to share it someday.

What about you? Where did you spend your childhood? Do you ever go back and visit?
~ ~ ~ ~
Don't forget, if you haven't entered the drawing for the wonderful gift basket from Author Donna Pyle, head over to My Guest, Donna Pyle (With An Amazing Giveaway!). The drawing ends on Sunday, August 26th at 11:59 p.m. You won't want to miss it! Donna is giving away two of her Bible Studies, including her new release, The God of All Comfort, a mug, $15 iTunes gift card and $50 Amazon gift card!


  1. Gabrielle!

    Oh. My. Goodness. What an enchanted childhood! I grew up a missionary kid in the jungles of Papua New Guinea and thought it was cool... but your trip down memory lane was magical. Thank you for taking us with you.

  2. Okay, that has to be the neatest place to grow up. Thanks so much for sharing, Gabrielle!

  3. Wow how interesting! I love it! Last time I went back to my childhood home, I was sorely disappointed. :( They cut down the Pine tree I used to play under. Have a great weekend!

  4. Holy cannoli!!! WOW!!! Blow me AWAY!!
    You, my dear girl, were blessed!
    How awesome and amazing!!!!

  5. Gabrielle!!

    My, my, my. This wonderfully beautiful (okay, that probably didn't make any sense, but we'll leave at such because it's the fist thing that comes to my mind).

    Wow. I can'T believe this! Were you and your fam blessed or what?

    Many thanks for sharing this delightful gift you were given.

    Love it !

  6. Love it - great pictures!
    I tend to drive by my childhood home about once every other year and show my kiddos - it is fun to see it change and how small it looks, while as a kid it seemed plenty big! It would be fun to go inside it someday again I always think :)

  7. My father was a builder. He built our childhood home when I was 3, we moved into it when I was 4. I stayed there until I was 20, and then moved away when my parents divorced. It was an amazing home with 6 bedrooms, 4 1/2 bath, on 3 levels~ It was an incredible house! I hope one day, if I ever have the money, to buy it. I would love to say that it could stay with our family, as my father has now passed away. I have TONS of great memories from my childhood there....lots with family, friends, we even had a few people get married in our home. Our backyard was slopped, so in the winter, if we were lucky enough to get snow, we would be the one place in the neighborhood that the kids flocked to, because we could sled, and even one time SKI down our backyard~

    Your childhood home is beautiful beyond words~ what a gorgeous place to grow up!! Thanks for sharing it. I have been in there before, once for your baby shower, and one other time for something else...can't remember what. But both homes are just beautiful! Going in there reminds me of my dad, because of all the beautiful homes he built for people over the years as well!

    Blessings~ Jennifer Bailey

  8. WOW, what a beautiful place to grow up!!

  9. That place DOES look magical! I love the pics, too! I was just talking to my hubby about my childhood home last night. It wasn't quite as magical but I loved it. I always wanted to live in a place like that when I grew up :)

  10. Oh Gabrielle, Magic is certainly the right word! The photos are just beautiful and then your poignant comments, oh my! I think the Lord places us in those spots to foster our imagination and love of history - He chose you well:) And then you are thoughtful enough to share the joy with the rest of us.

    It's so interesting to hear your dad was the caretaker for the estate, etc. My own childhood is somewhat similar. I grew up on the grounds of historic Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. My dad was the manager there and we lived in a little cottage on the grounds not far from the cave entrance. Most of our meals were eaten in the hotel dining room and I spent a lot of time in the park. It was, like you said, a truly magical place! I've never forgotten it and love going back there. Things have changed and the old historic hotel has been torn down but the cave is the same with all those Indian bones and underwater river and snowball dining room and whatnot. I've often wanted to write a historical set there. And might yet;)

  11. How pretty!!! It IS like Sabrina. And it just seems...magical.

    My dad still lives in the house where I grew up, and it's just 10 minutes from my house now. :)

  12. Becky - I can't imagine what it would have been like to grow up a missionary kid in Papua New Guinea!! How old were you when you moved to the States?

    Heidi - it was very neat! I especially loved it because the grounds were fenced and no trespassing signs were posted all over the place, so I always felt very safe in our little world.

    Jessica - it is sad when you go back and see that something you loved has changed - like the chimney on the Point - I can't believe it's fallen down. :( But at least the estate is being well taken care of and we can visit it whenever we want. Have a good weekend, too!

    Jennifer - I was (and am!) a blessed person. I did have a great childhood and I think that's why I want to share my life and passion through my words! Life isn't all bad - there are some amazing people and places in the world that need to be shared.

    Ganise - it's always my pleasure to share little tidbits of my life on my blog! I'm wildly passionate about my hometown and can't wait to bring it to the world through my books. :)

    Beka - I remember when you drove me by it, too! It's nice that we both live close enough to go back and see where we grew up. I'm super excited to go out and celebrate your wedding anniversary tonight!!

    Jennifer - your house sounds lovely! I don't blame you for wanting to own it again when it held so many wonderful memories. Ironically, my oldest said to me today: "Mom, when I get older, I'm going to go buy back our old house." :)

    Melissa - thanks! I think so, too. :)

    Cindy - I still have a longing to live in a Victorian Mansion on the river - but, alas, I don't forsee that in my future unless I became a crazy popular best-selling author! Dream big, right?!?! :)

    Laura - I didn't know you grew up in a National Park - that's incredible! It's so much fun growing up in a unique place, isn't it? I'd love to read a historical set in that location. Made me think of the opening scene in The Colonel's Lady when Roxanna is in the cave with the other ladies! I can see now why your love for Kentucky runs so thick through your veins.

    Lindsay - the only person who still lives in their original home from my childhood is my grandma on my dad's side. She and my grandpa moved there in 1959! It's like going back to my childhood when I visit her. Houses are special places, aren't they?

  13. Great photos and stories of your childhood home. Looks like a wonderful place to grow up. If you have any old photos from when you lived there, I hope you’ll consider sharing them on

  14. Gabrielle, what an idyllic place to grow up. I'm sure you have oodles of treasured memories.

    1. Hi, Keli! I do have many wonderful memories from this place. I especially love taking my children there and sharing the memories with them. It's one of my favorite places on Earth.

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