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Tour a lakeside "Gilded Age" mansion

For more than 20 years, Mother's Day tours of the Inn at Shelburne Farms have been a happy tradition, an opportunity to explore the historic Inn, once the home of the family who founded Shelburne Farms, from top to bottom before it opens to overnight guests for the season.

On Sunday, May 10, from noon to 5 p.m., the Inn-designated a National Historic Landmark-will extend a warm welcome to explore the elegantly appointed public rooms on the first floor and all of the second and third floor guest rooms. Interpreters will be available throughout the house to share information about the architecture, furnishings, restoration and history of the founding family.

Conservation will be a theme of this year's tours with local Vermont conservators who return annually to work on Shelburne House furnishings, stationed throughout the house to discuss various objects they have worked on, or are currently working on. Learn about the techniques and decisions made for conserving an 18th century japanned clock or speak to an upholsterer about the importance of retaining horsehair in the upholstery of a historic chair-a great opportunity to discuss the amazing collection of furnishings from the Gilded Age when the house was built, with experts who appreciate their significance.

Restoration will also be a theme for this year's tours, focusing on the evolution of the Shelburne House gardens and the major restoration of the lily pool area and balustrade which is currently underway. Individuals involved with this project will be on hand to discuss the engineering as well as the conservation of the cast stone elements and weather permitting, there will be tours of the garden. The artisans will be available regardless of weather in the East Dining Room. Immediate stabilization and restoration work in the garden began in conjunction with the opening of the Inn in 1987 and has continued with incremental steps including repairs to walls and steps, planting of the Enchanted Garden, and preparation of a Landscape Stewardship Plan. The lakeshore below the balustrade was stabilized during the winter of 2007 and now work has begun on the lily pool and the balustrade with excavation, masonry work and conservation of cast stone elements such as the balusters and railings.

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