Chinqua Penn Plantation Celebrates April Events
A Great Gatsby-era couple spent decades turning their home into a mansion that today is on the National Register of Historic Places. In April, the site, called Chinqua Penn Plantation, will welcome visitors to three special events.
Chinqua Penn, which is in Reidsville, was the home of Thomas Jefferson Penn and his wife, Margaret Beatrice "Betsy" Penn. "Jeff" Penn was a tobacco magnate who abandoned that industry in favor of cattle farming at a time when tobacco was still king in North Carolina, from the 1920s to nearly 1950. Betsy was a member of a prominent New York family.
Furnishings, artwork and antiques in the 27-room English countryside-style mansion reflect the couple's wide-ranging interests and travels. Artworks and furnishings from 30 countries pack the home. Included are a Breakfast Room in the Italian/Pompeii style and a Chinese Room copied from a room the Penns saw in a friend's house in Shanghai. The historic site includes expansive gardens, landscaping and a vineyard. Once situated on 1,000 acres, the estate now consists of 22 acres.
The April events are:
n Spring Revival, Chinqua Penn's annual flower show, from April 1 to April 26. More than 7,000 tulips and other flowering bulbs were planted, in addition to hundreds of naturalized bulbs and other perennial favorites. Regular admission applies.
n A behind-the-scenes "The Art of Tile" tour. Extensive tile work is still primarily in its original location throughout Chinqua Penn. The approximately 90-minute tour also covers entirely new material throughout the house as well as the adjacent Chinese pagoda and items long stored in the mansion's basement. Tour size is limited. Tours are Saturdays at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Group tours are available by appointment. Tickets are $30 adults, $25 for senior citizens, students and the military, and $20 for youngsters 6 to 16.
n An Easter egg hunt on April 11 for children ages three to 10. Regular admission applies, but children under 12 are free with an adult.
After Betsy Penn's death in 1965, Chinqua Penn became the property of the 16-campus University of North Carolina system. It passed into private ownership in 2006.
For more information, call 336-349-4576. The Web site is www.chinquapenn.com. The mansion is a day trip from most of central North Carolina.
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