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Le salon de Suella

November 13, 2011

In a cheerful green bungalow on First Avenue in Scottsbluff, a business owner is reviving an historic institution: the salon.

Here’s the definition of “salon” from my beloved Webster’s unabridged dictionary:

1. a drawing room or reception room in a large house. 2. an assembly of guests in such a room, esp. an assembly, common during the 17th and 18th centuries, consisting of the leaders in society, art, politics, etc. 3. a hall or place used for the exhibition of works of art.

At the Hanlon House Bed and Breakfast, Suella Hanlon has been assembling art, music performances and talks/recitations and generally playing the part of salon hostess.

The first night Bugman and I rolled into Scottsbluff from the long drive across Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska to evaluate the area as a place to put down roots, we stayed at the Hanlon House. As we were arriving around 9 p.m., the audience from a piano recital was just drifting out. Not long after we moved to the area, we attended an agricultural history talk at the Hanlon House given by Nancy Haney of the Farm And Ranch Museum. I know I’ve been to other events, but I can’t at the moment recall what they were.

I don’t make it to as many salon happenings as I would like. Life is busy, and I don’t always find out about the events, which are mostly advertised by word-of-mouth and the occasional free listing in the newspaper or local website. The Scottsbluff-Gering United Chamber of Commerce events page lists an art show opening and several self-help workshops. A search of the Star-Herald turned up the following at the Hanlon House in the last couple of months: a talk about western artist Charlie Russell, a writing workshop with author Shirley Riggs, a folk/bluegrass jam session, a High Noon Tea for a women’s social organization and a storytelling session that was a fundraiser to assist orphans in Zambia.

The latter event I was able to attend, and I’m so glad I did! The salon was decorated in an African theme, with a doorway turned into a stage. Couches and chairs were arranged into rows for the audience. Three Western Nebraska Community College forensics team members gave wonderful presentations. Two told international folk tales. The third student, Mustapha Barry, described the naming ceremonies that take place when a baby is born in his native Gambia. Here is a rather blurry photo of Mr. Barry. (Sorry – my camera doesn’t do well in dim light.)

There were Africa-sourced drinks to try – coffee and South African rooibos tea – and some sweet treats as well. Near the Hanlon House guest book is a collection jar to help offset the cost of the treats typically served at these salon events.

The evening ended with an auction of art to benefit Temwani Children’s Foundation, which was started through the efforts of a Gering native. The salon doesn’t fit a whole lot of people, so there was still art left over to be sold at a Temwani benefit planned for sometime in March.

I tell ya, western Nebraska in general, and the Hanlon House in particular, is a gem, with all this art, culture and international connection, which most people would probably not expect in a rural area.

Copyright 2011 by Katie Bradshaw

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 13, 2011 8:34 pm

    I just got home from spending the night at The Hanlon House in Scottsbluff. Suella is a wonderful hostess and friend. She is a gem for Scottsbluff.

  2. November 15, 2011 9:46 am

    My gratitude for this post brings tears to my eyes.
    I am just a refection of the goodness in you!
    You wouldn’t be able to recognize these attributes unless you had them yourself!

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