The Grieser family reunion was held at the Lied Lodge in Nebraska City, a town of 7,500 located on the eastern border just across the Missouri River from Iowa. The location was the perfect place to spend a few days. The lodge itself while attractive on the outside has a stunning interior entry. As a native Oregonian, I was delighted to learn the impressive thirty foot beams in the interior entry are Oregon Douglas Fir.
The Lied Lodge is linked to the Arbor Day Farm and the Arbor Lodge State Historical Park whose major feature is Arbor Lodge, which my aunt, cousin, and I referred to as the Morton Mansion. Julius Sterling Morton born in 1832 was a journalist who used his position of editor of the Nebraska City News to spread his philosophies of agriculture and tree-planting across the region. In 1872 when he was president of the State Board of Agriculture he introduced a resolution for a tree-planting day called Arbor Day. For some time it was celebrated on his birthday–April 22nd. Currently, each state honors the holiday on their own schedule but still in April. Morton’s idea was so popular over one million trees were planted in Nebraska for the first Arbor Day. Morton continued to hold important positions throughout his life including Secretary of Agriculture under President Grover Cleveland.
J. Sterling Morton built a four-room home for his family. As he, and then in turn his four sons, became more successful, the home was enlarged from its humble beginnings to a 52 room mansion. I’m charmed that among all the rooms was a single bathroom. While I recognize that to have an indoor bathroom with running water was something only the wealthy had, I still couldn’t help but compare the abundance of rooms for all sorts of activities with only one bathroom. I should also note that Morton’s oldest son, Joy Morton, founded the well-known Morton Salt.
An interesting feature one of the docents pointed out is the living room mirror, which is backed with diamond dust for an image with greater clarity. I’d never heard of that.
Stained glass windows–interior and exterior.
As you can see from the close-up of the exterior window, the mansion needs much restoration. The interior is quite well-maintained. Clearly, a property such as this, needs much ongoing work.
And of course, every mansion needs a bowling alley, even back then. Not only were the pins wooden but so were the bowling balls. And notice the scoreboard. They used to score innings, like a baseball game, instead of frames.
Last but not least is the Arbor Day Farm. Throughout the Farm and Lied Lodge are quotes pertaining to the environment and brotherhood.
We went on a tractor-pulled trailer Discovery Ride through the farm’s 260 acres featuring a field of Prairie Tallgrass, which used to cover the plains; a vineyard from which wines are produced; and an apple orchard filled with common and heritage apples. We picked and ate apples called Scarlet Surprise, which are a lovely shade of pink inside.
I loved these “trees” on the farm’s grounds. Wished I’d made them.