Don't Mess with Texas

THE JOURNAL RECORD, December 15, 2000 | Go to article overview
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Don't Mess with Texas


Because one man opposed Texas, his 19th century monumental bed never got to the White House. Instead, it went to Louisiana for 156 years. Now it's found a final resting place in -- guess -- Texas.

This Gothic style bed, measuring 13 feet high, 7 feet 5 inches wide and almost 9 feet long, was made in 1844 for presidential candidate Henry Clay. However, Clay lost the election due to his opposition to the annexation of the Republic of Texas and the bed met the same fate. The bed was sold to a plantation owner in Louisiana until it was sold to the Dallas Museum of Art for its Decorative Arts permanent collection.

How much to sleep in it? Priceless. No campaign donations allowed.

The bed, originally destined for the White House, is regarded as one of the finest surviving examples of American Gothic Revival furniture. The bed, commissioned for Clay by his Whig Party supporters and made by Crawford Riddell of Philadelphia, was specifically designed for the room in the White House now known as the Lincoln Bedroom, which served as the presidential bedroom until about 1900.

Clay, who ran for president three times and was known as the Great Compromiser for his peace keeping abilities, seemed a shoo-in in 1844 but lost the election in the final weeks of his campaign, due to his wavering on the question of the annexation of Texas into the Union.

Constructed of rare Brazilian rosewood, poplar and pine, the bed features exquisite carving and embodies classic features of Gothic Revivalism. An intricate high-backed headboard and crafted posts incorporate Gothic vaulted arches and signature symmetrical design. Official architecture, such as London's House of Parliament built between 1834 and 1860, stimulated the Gothic Revival movement on an international scale and the style was seen as a symbolic re- appraisal of medieval social and religious qualities.

Looks like 150 years ago, it didn't pay to mess with Texas. Guess that may still hold true.

Notable: The bed stayed at Rosedown Plantation to the present, except to be conserved in the 1960s. The plantation owner had to add a wing to his mansion to accommodate the bed and then had to build an additional wing to add balance to the house.

A bed 7 feet wide can accommodate five people comfortably sleeping side by side. Approximately two California king-size bed sheets are needed to cover this bed.

The Dallas Museum of Art has free admission and is open from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, staying open until 9 p.m. on Thursdays. Don't go by on Christmas, New Year's Day, Thanksgiving or Mondays.

Record-setting flight

Oklahoma pilot Robert Ragozzino will be at Omniplex on Saturday to talk about his record-setting voyage around the world, a flight that began and ended in Oklahoma. He will speak briefly at the 11 a.m., 12:45, 3:15 and 6 p.m. showings of The Magic of Flight in the Omnidome Theatre.

Fresh from his ROCKCITY.COM world tour, Ragozzino will autograph photos of "The King," his Stearman biplane, commemorating his record- setting journey. The biplane will be on display along with three of his flight uniforms, photographs and a map documenting the flight from Saturday through Jan. 31 in Omniplex.

The pilot touched down at Wiley Post Airport in Oklahoma City on Nov. 17, 2000, after completing his historic around-the-world flight in five and a half months aboard "The King." Ragozzino's trip consisted of flight and non-flight days, averaging six flight hours per day, with 20 days grounded for various reasons. He had traveled 32,000 miles in 170 hours.

Back by popular demand is Everest, which will return to Omnidome from Dec. 22 through Jan. 1. The breathtaking film will join Dolphins and The Magic of Flight for Omnidome's holiday visitors' enjoyment. (The weather this week ought to put everyone in the mood to climb by proximity the massive Mount Everest.

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