“A Winter Poem” by Lewis Carroll

Tucked under the eaves on the third floor of the Rivertown Inn is a cozy, warm and entertaining bedchamber named for Lewis Carroll, aka Charles Dodgson.  Lewis Carroll, the famed author of the Alice in Wonderland books, was a multifaceted man: photographer, mathematician, minister, writer and poet.  This excerpt from “Through the Looking Glass, and what Alice Found There” was first published in 1871 and is very appropriate for this month of winter:

A Winter Poem

I wonder if the snow loves the tree and fields, that it kisses them gently?  And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; perhaps it says “Go to sleep darlings, till the summer comes again.”

We chose this author as our decorating inspiration because the room is quirky, with odd under-the-eaves roof lines, and a charm about it that just spoke the name, “Alice.”  This comfortable space – while the smallest bedchamber in the inn – has every amenity that the other guest rooms have for winter enjoyment: a warm fireplace, a beautiful hot tub, a pair of cozy robes and many interesting books by as well as about the author.

With im-proper scale, skeleton keys, a Cheshire cat, a mad hatter hat and  fantastic old books – as well as a photograph of Alice Liddell (the original Alice) herself – this is definitely a room to consider when staying at the Rivertown Inn.  Our current blog special is a complimentary bottle of wine with your room reservation in March or April.  Simply reserve on-line at www.rivertowninn.com and enter the word BLOG as the promotional code, or call us at (651) 430-2955.  This offer can not be combined with any other promotions or discounts.

We are looking forward to seeing you very soon.

Details, details, details……book-ends.

Book-ends are about things in pairs…and I do love ‘two’ of things.  I love to find frames that match, or andirons for fireplaces, or two vases to flank a fireplace mantel.  Two-volume sets are wonderful, and there are many at the inn.  Maybe it’s when I’ve found two of something old it’s just that much cooler that both survived time, and both are together.  And so it is with bookends.  They’re gorgeous and so much fun to add to collections of old books.

A bit of book-end background courtesy of Google….

Given the age of these books from the Tennyson Suite, they may have originally been stored horizontally like this….

Bookends have very practical beginnings, and originally kept people from getting hit on the head.  During medieval times, books were really only found in monasteries and a few other scholarly locations, and were often chained in lecterns and read on slanted surfaces – no bookends there.  Around the end of the Renaissance, books began to be readily available to the masses.  Before books became more regular in size, a small pile of books might be stacked flat, or horizontally; but as the quantity of books increased, forming mountains of books didn’t seem to make much sense.  Shelves and book chests came into use; eventually books began to be stored vertically by the end of the 16th century.  As libraries and collectors formed categorical systems for arranging books, and shelves grew taller and more accommodating, bookends became a means for keeping books neatly vertical on an otherwise unfilled shelf.  Bookends of sufficient weight would keep the shelved books safely in place and reduce book avalanches, making vertical book storage and the use of bookends a definite improvement over horizontally stacked book mountains.

Who knew?

I walked through the inn and found these fantastic examples from various bookshelves, mantels and desks:

This bookend above is from the bookshelves in the Browning Suite.  Love this.

This recently acquired pair is Longfellow himself – difficult to see here but his name is engraved at the base.

“My library was dukedom large enough.”  Shakespeare.  Oh my….

And this lovely gem is one of a pair on the mantel in the Jane Austen Suite.  

These are truly beautiful details.  They’re generally found in lot boxes at auctions, or at local antiques shops in Stillwater.  They’re beautiful anywhere: bookshelves, mantels, side tables or desks.  They can hold up  your cookbooks on your counter, or the CD’s in your family room.  We have old book-ends and new ones, very functional basic black ones for the extra-large volumes, and the richly ornate examples you see here.  I hope you’ll notice other beautiful examples of these when you’re perusing the bookshelves, table tops or mantels next time you’re at the Rivertown Inn.  And I’m pretty sure there will be no books falling on your head – we have that covered.  Beautifully.

Room Highlight: Alfred, Lord Tennyson Suite


Our Tennyson Suite has under gone some changes and re-arranging since this photo was taken. A grand 1870’s hand carved walnut bed has since been added to the room. The bed is adorned with winged cherubs and an entire fishing scene including the sea, volcanoes, cherubs and fishing nets all carved along the foot board. It is truly the centerpiece of this luxurious two-room suite.

The hand-screen trellis wallpaper is covered in green foliage and provides a beautiful garden conservatory-like backdrop for the drapery-enclosed whirlpool tub. The femininity of the wallpaper and the draperies is balanced out by the dark wood furnishings that have been added to the room just recently. An elaborately carved desk now sits in the corner of the room with a Tiffany-style lamp perched upon it and an  inviting antique couch is situated in front of the fireplace.

This lovely suite also features a sunny adjoining sitting parlor that is the ideal place to cozy up on a comfy chair with a glass of wine and a good book. The large needlepoint floor cushions allow you to languish in front of the second fireplace which is surrounded by hand-painted floral tiles. The parlor is also unique in that it features walls upholstered in raspberry Toile fabric. The Alfred, Lord Tennyson Suite is the ultimate in luxury and comfort.

A Splintered History of Wood


Rivertown Inn’s neighbor, Spike Carlsen, is the author of “A Splintered History of Wood: Belt Sander Races, Blind Woodworkers, and Baseball Bats”. Published by HarperCollins, the book comes out in paperback on August 18th. The hard cover edition, released last summer, has already garnered critical praise (it’s a finalist this year for a Great Lakes Book Award) and NPR mentioned it last winter as a bookseller’s pick for a holiday book. Rivertown Inn even hosted a book reading event with Mr. Carlsen last fall. The book was also just recently featured in the St. Croix Valley Press on August 6th.

In the St. Croix Valley Press, Carlsen speaks of his own professional history with wood. He was a carpenter for over 15 years until he tried his hand at freelance writing and got a job with Family Handyman, a magazine with ties to Reader’s Digest. He became its executive editor and remained there until June of 2007. Over the years he developed a true appreciation for wood and all of its uses. In his book, he covers avid woodworkers such as Livio De Marchi, an Italian artist who’s carved pieces like a life-sized wooden Ferrari and Ray “Wild Mountain Man” Murphy who calls himself the first chain-saw sawyer in the U.S.

Spike Carlsen even interviewed President Jimmy Carter, who is a woodworker. “Even as a president, he would do woodworking at Camp David and make small gifts for heads of state. Very nice guy – he has a furniture book he’s working on now,” Carlsen said. Carlsen is also working on his own furniture book, and another “about houses and the different things in them”, he says. For right now,  he is still busy promoting “A Splintered History”. Thanks to a project with his church, for every copy sold a tree will be planted on a farm at a secondary school in Tanzania. They are planting a form of pine, which are quick to grow and harvestable in 12 to 15 years. Planting them provides scholarship money for some of the students, and harvesting them will provide money for the school on an ongoing basis. About 10,000 have been planted so far; details are available at www.asplinteredhistoryofwood.com.

We here at Rivertown Inn which Mr. Carlsen the best of luck in all of his future endeavors!

Spike Carlsen

For More Information, Please Visit www.asplinteredhistoryofwood.com