State Historic Site

Trail End

Curvilinear gable  (TESHS)

Over a Century of History

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Trail End

Building Trail End

TRAIL END COST $165,000 to build. This was in a time when one could purchase a three-bedroom house in town with running water, electricity, and a garage for a mere $4,000. For a house to cost forty times that of a normal dwelling, it would have to be something special. Trail End fits that description, both inside and out. 

Nearly everything used to build Trail End had to be shipped to Sheridan on railroad cars - from the Montana granite foundation to the Missouri clay roofing tiles. Other materials include: Kansas brick, Honduran mahogany and Michigan oak woodwork, Italian and Vermont marble, French silk damask wall coverings and Persian rugs. The stained glass windows were made in New York City, the limestone trim came from Indiana, and the window screens were shipped west from Maine. About the only locally-produced products were the iron gates - from Sheridan Iron Works - and the exterior canvas shades made by Sheridan Tent & Awning.

Despite his wife's active involvement in its design and construction, Trail End was apparently John Kendrick's idea from start to finish. Mary Kendrick Morgan, a relative from Texas who lived on the family ranches during the planning phase of the project, told Manville that Eula was not necessarily eager to take on the responsibility of such a large home:

I helped your mother a little on the plans when I was with you folks and she said then the house was going to be a big responsibility. I think that your Dear Father wanted the big house much more than she did. I heard your grandmother [Ida Peeler Wulfjen] tell your mother not to oppose him about the house, that he had worked hard and building that house had been a dream of his for a long time. 

John's dream, located on 3.8 acres of land on the west side of town, is an imposing structure with thirty-plus rooms encompassing just under 14,000 square feet. There are three floors plus a basement, attic, four balconies and four porches. The home was built in the Flemish Revival style, recognizable by the presence of curvilinear gables (this style is most often seen in the border areas between France and Belgium). Mixed in with the Flemish elements are several from the Neoclassical style including columns, pediments and balustrades.

The front of the house is symmetrical with a formal entrance reminiscent of large estates in Great Britain, New York and Virginia. The sides and back have the more random arrangement of porches, balconies, windows and chimneys typical of late Nineteenth Century Victorian houses.

All of the original woodwork in Trail End was machine-tooled by the Lindner Interior Manufacturing Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Following detailed drawings and specifications, $25,000 worth of wood components were machine carved and precut, then shipped to Sheridan via railroad boxcar and assembled on site by skilled workmen from Sheridan and Grand Rapids.

Much of the original furniture was custom-made by yet another Grand Rapids firm, the Berkey & Gay Company. Berkey & Gay was one of the premier furniture manufacturers of the time, with much of its product in evidence in the fine hotels of New York and Chicago. To satisfy the needs of their long-distance customers such as the Kendricks, Berkey & Gay devised a sales technique called the "catalog showroom" in which all their furnishings were on display in black and white photographic catalogs. Different styles could be ordered in different woods and finishes, depending upon the personal tastes of the client. 


When Trail End was designed and built, it incorporated the newest and most advanced technology available, including:

Electric Lights  Wired for electricity from the beginning, Trail End's lights included custom-made chandeliers and wall sconces, a variety of decorative floor and table lamps, plus plain but functional ceiling fixtures. 

Stationary Vacuum Cleaner  This house-wide vacuum cleaner has a motor located in the basement, tubes running to all three floors and outlets scattered throughout the house. 

Intercom  Powered by a central battery, intercom stations were located in six strategic places: carriage house, basement, cloakroom, staff quarters, master bedroom and kitchen hallway. 

Telephones  These were installed in the master bedroom, library and kitchen hallway. They were connected to the local exchange; the intercom system was not. 

Dumbwaiter  This manually operated rope-and-pulley "mini-elevator" allowed the staff to move food and other items from one floor to another without using the stairs. 

Laundry Chute  Stretching from the third floor to the basement, this narrow opening allowed the maids to get the dirty laundry downstairs quickly and safely utilizing the force of gravity.

Furnace  & Radiators  Although Trail End has eight fireplaces, most of the heat came from a coal-fired furnace where water was heated in twin boilers and sent through pipes to nearly sixty radiators. 

Indoor Plumbing  Perhaps to make up for the lack of indoor plumbing during all those years at the ranch, Trail End was built with twelve full or partial-baths. Nearly all have ceramic floor tiles, porcelain wall tiles, Vermont marble trim, German Silver plumbing fixtures and stained glass windows. 

Elevator  The rope-and-pulley platform elevator running from basement to ballroom made moving furniture and luggage much easier than carrying it up and down the stairs. Although the elevator shaft was originally constructed to accommodate an electric elevator car, the system was not installed prior to the family's move to Cheyenne and Washington. The current elevator was installed in 1986. 

As technology advanced, so did its use at Trail End. In the 1920s, the original ice box in the butler's pantry was replaced by an electric refrigerator, a gas range replaced the cumbersome wood and coal cook stove, and the coal-fired boilers were eventually converted to natural gas. 

Americans take most of these inventions for granted today, but to the people who lived at Trail End in 1913 these labor-saving devices were very exciting. They eliminated much of the drudgery of everyday life and made it easier for all, family and staff alike, to enjoy the comforts of home. 

It took a lot of hands to keep things running smoothly at Trail End. Many domestics (or servants) worked there over the years, but only a few at any one time. Most maids and grounds workers, known as "day workers," would go to work in the morning and return to their own homes at night. Others, however, would choose (or be chosen) to live on site, taking part of their wages in room and board. A cook and housekeeper once lived at Trail End as did several maids and a private nurse employed by Diana Kendrick to look after her children.

Followers of today's rich and famous might be surprised to learn that Eula Kendrick and many other well-to-do married women of the time worked right along with the domestic staff to keep their homes running smoothly. While maids, cooks, gardeners and housekeepers did the bulk of the everyday work, Eula and her daughter Rosa-Maye helped with major projects such as spring cleaning, planting flowers, moving seasonal wardrobes in and out of storage and rearranging furniture.

 (Construction Documents, TESHS)