A Whole-House Exhibit at the Trail End State Historic Site
March 2003 - December 2006
Trail End blueprints (Trail End Archival Collection)
FROM THE BEGINNING, John Kendrick knew what kind of home he wanted. He also knew how far he was willing to go to get it:
Concerning my wishes as to the general plan of the interior work, I should like to have it treated along the lines of the utmost simplicity consistent with the best artistic effect, in a character that would not only be livable when we first moved into the house but would continue to grow in favor as we become more and more accustomed to it, and, while inclined to avoid any unnecessary expense, I deem it only fair to you to say at this time that I am not in the least inclined to avoid any outlay that would increase the beauty or practical utility of the house when it is finished.
In order to achieve this high level of “beauty and practical utility,” John and Eula had to rely on architects, manufacturers and designers from all over the country. While general laborers were hired locally, most specialized tradesmen came in from Nebraska, Illinois, Michigan, and other eastern states. Even the architect was an out-of-towner.
McALISTER & WAID
Glenn Charles McAlister, a self-taught architect from Billings, Montana, was chosen from a pool of architects who had submitted their drawings as early as 1907. He had already designed and built two of Sheridan’s more impressive structures: the Sheridan County Courthouse on Main Street, and a private residence called “Mount View.” Though McAlister had an office in Sheridan, he was rarely here. He spent most of his time either on his ranch in southern Montana or in his office in Billings. This was quite vexing to John Kendrick, who noted:
I will say that I have had no end of trouble in trying to worry through with this work under the direction of McAlister, and since we have arranged for the assistance of the New York man [D. E. Waid], he is so far away that I do not get very much better results from him.
With its most of its designers, decorators and fabricators located well over five hundred miles away, pulling together Trail End’s interior was a Herculean feat. Since the Kendricks acted as their own general contractors, it was up to them to coordinate all activities. Visiting all the individual manufacturers was costly and time-consuming. Therefore, the Kendricks used catalogs, drawings and samples to make many of their decisions. Occasionally, though, John or Eula would have to meet with the vendors face-to-face, as John noted in 1911: "Mrs. Kendrick is down East now and I am leaving tomorrow for a short trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan to have a final word with the interior manufacturers of the wood work in our house."
John and Eula were well aware of the fact that they did not know everything it took to put together a spectacular house. In 1911, they enlisted the aid of an interior designer to finalize the decorating plans and provide guidance on the overall look of the house. D. Everett Waid, Kendrick's "New York Man" who later served as head of the American Institute of Architecture, was hired to lead the Kendricks toward the tasteful. This he was not shy to do:
Regarding the fireplaces, I would say that to my taste, both for aesthetic and practical reasons, onyx would be very objectionable. A very quiet, dignified and yet rich effect can be obtained appropriate to the style of the interior design by a proper selection of either tile or marble.
The Kendricks followed Waid’s suggestions and the fireplaces were finished in a dignified Italian Pavanazzo marble.
ENTER CHARLES LINDNER
Even though John Kendrick had two architects working for him, it fell to a third individual to coordinate efforts between the woodworkers, the furniture makers and the interior finishers. Charles A. Lindner of the Lindner Interior Manufacturing Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan, was hired in late 1909 and quickly gained the respect of the Kendrick family. John referred to Charles Lindner as “one of the most satisfactory men with whom I have dealt,” and had the utmost confidence in his abilities:
The question of our interior wood work has given both Mrs. Kendrick and myself an endless amount of anxiety, but since our talk with you we have a feeling of complete assurance as to the outcome so that we have practically dismissed it from our minds.
Under Lindner’s personal supervision, the firm not only manufactured and installed all the woodwork in the house, but also took charge of matching the furniture finishes to the walls, locating a stained glass firm, and coordinating final installation with the interior decorators. Lindner’s job was somewhat simplified by the fact that several of the manufacturers with whom he had to deal were located in and around Grand Rapids.
Italian marble fireplace in drawing room (Trail End Collection)
State Historic Site