(Kendrick Collection, TESHS)
State Historic Site
Trail End blueprints (Trail End Archival Collection)
WITH TEN OF them in the house, it's not surprising that considerable time and effort was put into decorating (and redecorating) Trail End's bedrooms.
Trail End’s decorative work was done by Miller, Stewart & Beaton of Omaha. They followed detailed specifications, such as these for Rosa-Maye’s room:
Window draperies to be made of rose colored satin striped Damask as selected. Lined with Parma Satin, finished on edges with harmonizing braid. Ceiling is to be tinted in a color to harmonize with the walls, and the walls are to be laid out in a series of panels … The center part of the panels are to be hung with a pink paper to harmonize with the draperies, and in the event that we cannot get a paper we propose to hang the walls with Sanitas and paint it in a pink to harmonize …
Like others in the house, Rosa-Maye’s original curtains and drapes, installed by Beaton & Laier in 1913, no longer exist; the current window coverings were installed in 1992. When fabrics are continuously exposed to dust, sunlight, insects and water, they eventually begin to show wear and must be replaced – as noted by Eula Kendrick in her 1933 diary: "[Get] new drapery materials for RMK room – have to make new ones as others have completely wore out, hanging 20 years."
The furniture in Rosa-Maye’s room is made in the neoclassical revival style, finished in shaded ivory. The crests of the headboard, footboard, dresser, vanity and desk are draped with rose garlands, echoing the patterns in the walls and chandelier. Most of the furniture was made by Berkey & Gay of Grand Rapids. Since the company did not stock all the furnishings they desired, however, the Kendricks had to do some shopping around. Additional pieces – the coat tree, daybed and suitcase stand, for example – were obtained from a variety of different firms, including the Century Furniture Company of Grand Rapids.
Most of Trail End’s rooms look essentially the way they did in the 1910s. The master bedroom is one of the few rooms in the house that has undergone extensive redecorating (the others are in the Guest Wing). Fortunately, we have the 1913 room portrait to show us what the space looked like in the early years. We also have several written descriptions of the decor, such as this one by designer George Henderson of Miller, Stewart & Beaton:
The walls are to be blended from the base up in a soft old silvery rose with a two toned Cameo effect decoration in the frieze, and the ceiling to harmonize with same. The draperies for this room [have] a two toned indistinct pattern of old rose suggesting the Adam’s period with a rug to harmonize with same.
A great deal of effort was expended to make the room a harmonious place. As one decorator noted in 1912, "In as much as the old rose draperies are in this room, I would be afraid of putting an old rose tile in the mantel facing as I am afraid that they would not dwell happily together."
The original master bedroom suite, finished in Circassian walnut, was manufactured by Berkey & Gay of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Later pieces such as the cane daybed were stained to match. A large cane rocking chair was custom-made for John Kendrick, who demanded a “comfortable chair” for the bedroom. Because Berkey & Gay did not carry such a chair, the company had it made by the Wallace Furniture Company, also of Grand Rapids.
Following the style set by the Astors and the Vanderbilts in the nineteenth century, the Kendricks had two double beds. There was ample space in the large master bedroom to follow the practice of sleeping comfortably in separate beds, particularly in hot weather. John Kendrick wasn't happy with the twin beds originally ordered for the room, and Berkey & Gay had to make adjustments:
I note what you say regarding the twin beds and I have entered order for a pair of the full size beds together with box springs and hair mattresses which we hope to ship in about three weeks and I am very glad to do this. In fact, anything to keep Mr. Kendrick happy.
Sometime after her husband’s death, Eula made changes in the room’s decor. While the new design retained the original rugs, furnishings, tile and fixtures, other changes were extensive: the creamy woodwork was repainted white, the wall canvas was removed and replaced with a salmon and pink paper, and the original rose silk draperies were replaced with blue-trimmed salmon drapes.
Of all the rooms at Trail End, Manville’s bedroom best reflects the Arts & Crafts style of furnishing popular in the early 1900s. A reaction to the overly ornate character of Victorian-era furnishings, Arts & Crafts (or “Mission” style) pieces were simple, with plain designs and little ornamentation. This room’s oak furniture and antiqued brass lighting fixtures are straight from the decorating catalogs of the day.
The lights were designed by Omaha's Burgess & Granden Company and cast in the Braun Manufacturing Company's foundry in Chicago. In his 1912 correspondence with Eula Kendrick, salesman Wilbur Burgess did not use terms like Arts & Crafts or Mission. Instead, he let the drawings do the talking: "For Manville’s Room, Mr. Ricklefs suggested an entirely new scheme. Am mailing you finished drawing S-13756. I think the character of the fixture is fine for a boy’s room."
The room’s first decorating plan was apparently NOT appropriate for a boy. The 1911 specs called for “fine leaf stenciling” to match the “lace curtains.” Definitely not very boyish! It is not known who asked for the changes, but by 1912, the revised specs described “a Navajo stenciled border to continue around the molding.” The lace curtains had been replaced with simple cotton curtains surrounded by red draperies.
The smallest of the family bedrooms, Manville’s was nonetheless full of furniture: desk, chair, barrister-style bookcase, gun case, mirrored dresser, and bed. Manville slept on a “Murphy” bed – a dresser-like piece of furniture in which the bed was folded up and stored during the day. It stood between a pair of wall sconces.
The north end of the second floor, now housing staff offices, contained three guest bedrooms, each with a private bath. While no early-day photographs exist of the rooms, we do know a few things about them:
The rooms served as an apartment for Manville and Diana Kendrick following their 1929 wedding. The east room was used as a parlor and the north room became their bedroom. In the 1930s, the west room was made into a nursery for their sons. Eula Kendrick noted in 1933: "Spent morning supervising Mr. Edwards and Edgar in moving furniture out of “blue room,” preparation to making nursery … "
Before those big changes were made, however, there occurred lots of little ones. In March of 1930, Diana Kendrick wrote a letter to Eula Kendrick in which she described the “little changes” she had made in one part of the north wing:
[Built] a four-layer bookcase … unpacked all my books and shelved them … hung an etching over it, put a pewter bowl and two pewter vases on top, hung another etching on the wall opposite my door, and an old-fashioned, wavery-reflecting mirror in the little space between my door and the door to the yellow room – and behold, the little hall is no longer a passageway – it has developed a personality of its own.
A few years later, after the couple was convinced to make Trail End their permanent home, Diana completely remodeled the east bedroom to suit her own personality. Two large closets were installed, plus three sets of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. The window alcove was replaced with a sturdy window seat surrounded by thirty-one built-in cupboards and drawers. Wide-slat Venetian blinds were hung in place of the elaborate tapestry draperies, and the entire room was painted rose taupe, a very popular color at the time.
The staff wing of the third floor – the north wing – was occupied exclusively by women – maids, cooks and housekeepers. (Any handyman, gardener or chauffeur who lived on-site stayed in a basement room.) Flooring, wallcoverings and wood trims were simpler and cheaper there than in the rest of the house, and the rooms themselves were much smaller. Nevertheless, they were far from Spartan. Although a bit more cramped, the communal bath at the end of the hallway contains the same stained glass windows, Vermont marble trim, porcelain walls, ceramic floors and modern plumbing fixtures as all other bathrooms in the house.
For a brief time, part of the staff wing was used for something other than housing workers. 1912 correspondence from Miller, Stewart & Beaton indicated that a “smoking room” was located where the cook’s room is now: "With regards to the Smoking Room which is marked Servant’s Room Number One on Third Floor. There has been no decorative scheme made for it."
Light fixtures were ordered for this smoking room, as were curtains and draperies. Unfortunately, few other clues exist to tell us more about the room’s function or frequency of use. The only other mention we have found is a newspaper article noting that “gentlemen were entertained in the smoking room” during the 1914 New Year’s Day Open House. This use was short-lived, however, because staff occupied all the third floor rooms by the 1920s and 1930s, as indicated by Diana Kendrick in 1933: "I put [the new cook] in the room above me – and await your instructions about it. She asked to go in the basement, but I said I’d have to wait your ok."
All three bedrooms have a built-in sink. Baths were taken weekly rather than daily, so employees would wash their face and hands in their rooms before going to work in the morning and prior to retiring at night.
A Whole-House Exhibit at the Trail End State Historic Site
March 2003 - December 2006