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Take Victorian tea at Casa Blanca


ALEXANDRIA BAY — The Alexandria Township Historical Society is hosting two Victorian teas including house tours of Cherry Island’s Casa Blanca on the Fridays of Aug. 2 and 23.

Each tour departs at 1:30p.m. from the Uncle Sam Boat Tours dock. Advance ticket purchase is required; tickets are $25 per person and are available at the Cornwall Brothers Store and Museum, 36 Market St., or by calling 482-4586. Proceeds benefit the historical society.

Casa Blanca, a Gilded Age mansion, is the summer home of Edith Lehr Amsterdam. The home, which was originally called Melrose Lodge, was part of the estate of Albert Benton Pullman and was sold at auction to Luis Marx at the turn of the last century. Marx, a wealthy sugar and tobacco grower of Havana, Cuba, expanded the home to its appearance today. The Amsterdam family purchased the home in 1962, with nearly all of its original furnishings and has maintained and restored the home and its outbuildings.

The short cruise to Cherry Island includes views of the waterfront of Alexandria Bay and Millionaires Row. Afternoon tea, including lemonade, iced tea, dainty sandwiches and confections, will be served on the sprawling porch overlooking the St. Lawrence River and Seaway.

Guests are invited to wander the grounds and tour the mansion. Paths meander from the griffin- and gargoyle-guarded seawall to the outbuildings including a gazebo, a four-slip boathouse, laundry house with an operational 1915 Maytag washing machine, an icehouse and powerhouse.

The inside of the home features two player pianos in the reception hall, a Brunswick-Balke billiard table in the billiard room, a pump organ and an English oak and burl-walnut partners’ desk in the library. The dining room boasts a large table set with china made by Thonet of Vienna. A spiral staircase leads to the second floor which houses three suites with private baths, three smaller bedrooms sharing a divided bath and the cook’s bedroom. Five third-floor servants’ bedrooms and the tower room, with ornately colored windowpanes, are also on the tour.

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