Archive for February, 2014

What’s a “Piedmont?”

February 27th, 2014 by Judy Horn

piedmontmap

The piedmont (shaded area) extends along the eastern U.S.

You can’t be in the Greensboro area long before you hear and see the word “piedmont.” Pronounced “peed-mont,” you’ll hear it on every local TV weather report and see it as part of the names of many local businesses. Greensboro is in the heart of the piedmont, North Carolina’s most densely populated section. The “Piedmont Triad” (or simply the Triad) refers to the three city area of Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point.

The word was new to me when I arrived in central North Carolina. “Piedmont” must have been one of those geographic words that they didn’t dwell on back in Missouri, where I grew up. My teachers must have been discussing the Mississippi River basin while North Carolinians were pondering the piedmont.

Here’s what I have since learned: The piedmont is a plateau region located in the eastern United States between the Atlantic coastal plain and the main Appalachian Mountains. It’s not exclusive to North Carolina but stretches from New Jersey to central Alabama. Geographically, the piedmont has gently rolling terrain often broken by hills or low mountain ridges. There are a few low mountain ranges and peaks found in the North Carolina piedmont, such as Pilot Mountain near the town of Mt. Airy.

The piedmont occupies about 35 percent of North Carolina. (To the east, taking up about 45 percent of the state, is the coastal plain. To the west, occupying the remaining 20 percent, are the foothills and mountains.)

Of the three regions, the mountains are the coldest part of the state with the greatest snow accumulations and mildest summers. The coastal plain has the mildest weather with its climate influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. The ocean has less influence on the piedmont, which has hotter summers and colder winters than the coast.

You now have a working understanding of the piedmont! To learn more about all the things to see, do and enjoy about the North Carolina piedmont, visit http://www.visitnc.com/piedmont. Better yet, come visit. You’ll find the best in piedmont hospitality at the Troy-Bumpas Inn Bed & Breakfast in Greensboro, NC.

Blandwood: The Oldest Standing Example of Italianate Architecture in the U.S.

February 21st, 2014 by Judy Horn

When Reverend Sidney Bumpass built the home that is now the Troy-Bumpas Inn Bed and Breakfast, a visitor would find few homes in the immediate area. One home, however, was only a third of a mile away, and it was already more than 50 years old when Sidney and Frances Bumpass moved into their home in 1847. That house, known as Blandwood, still exists today and is a national historic landmark that is open for tours.

Blandwood Mansion

Blandwood Mansion, considered the the oldest standing example of Italianate architecture in the United States.

Originally Blandwood was a simple two-story farmhouse constructed by Charles Bland. The earliest part of the home was completed in 1795. The house was later purchased by North Carolina Governor John Motley Morehead. In 1844, toward the end of the governor’s term in office, he commissioned renowned architect Alexander Jackson Davis of New York to build significant additions to the house in the Italianate style. A central tower, stucco walls and symmetrical flanking dependencies were added. The additions were completed in 1846.

Today, Blandwood is considered the oldest standing example of Italianate architecture in the United States. The restored mansion operates as a museum and provides visitors a look into 19th century art, architecture, furnishings, and landscape. Some of the Morehead’s furnishings are on display.

Vistors to the mansion learn interesting aspects of the homes architecture as well as information about the governor and the Morehead family. Morehead earned the nickname “the father of Modern North Carolina” and was a strong supporter of statewide rail and water transportation systems; free public schools; and more humane treatment of deaf and blind children, prisoners, and the mentally ill.

While we are not certain, it seems highly likely that Frances Bumpass and her family were acquainted with their neighbors, the Moreheads.

To learn more about this treasure of architectural and historical significance, take a look at this video created by Preservation Greensboro Incorporated, the non-profit organization that operates Blandwood. Tours are available Tuesday through Sunday. An admission fee is charged. Guests at the Troy-Bumpas Inn can receive a discount coupon that offers one free admission with a paid adult admission (valid during 2014).