I was awake early this morning. It was still cloudy and chilly. We went to breakfast at the Excelsior at 9:00. Their “Plantation” breakfast lived up to its reputation. It included fruit (eight kinds), scrambled eggs, ham, sausage, orange juice, two kinds of bread and coffee or tea.
After breakfast we listened in as the registration clerk told three students about the hotel’s history. It was built by riverboat captain William Perry. It has fifteen guest rooms, each furnished in period furniture. The hotel was purchased by the Jessie Allen Wise Garden Club and volunteers spent thousands of hours restoring it. The ballroom and dining room each feature large French chandeliers, oriental rugs, marble mantles, oil paintings and antiques. The adjoining courtyard features an elegant fountain and alcoves with statuary.
An interesting piece displayed in the hotel lobby is Amelia McNeely’s unfinished tapestry, “David Playing the Harp for King Saul”. She did the work without using a pattern. Alas, I was unable to get a photo without reflections. (www.theexcelsiorhouse.com)
We had planned to take a guided tour of Jay Gould’s private railroad car "the Atalanta" across the street from the Excelsior. The 20-ton train car was found in a pasture near Henderson and rescued by the women of the Jessie Allen Wise Garden Club. They restored it to its 1888 condition. A railroad tycoon, Jay Gould is reputed to have predicted the "End of Jefferson" Texas. When the tour guide still had not shown up by 11:00, we decided to leave. (http://www.moon.com/destinations/texas/houston-and-east-texas/piney-woods/jefferson/the-atalanta-railroad-car)