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You Are Here: Home > Trail End Exhibits > Temporary Exhibits > Home Is Where the History Is
The Design, Construction & Decoration of Trail End, 1908-1913
A Whole-House Exhibit at the Trail End State Historic Site, March 2003 - December 2006
INTRODUCTION | The Best Laid Plans | Architects & Designers | Trail End Technology | Interior Design
Bedrooms | Work Rooms | The Hired Help | The Family at Home | Construction Time Line
"This home they call 'Trail End,' because to them it was the end of the cattle trail which began in Matagorda Bay in 1879 and ended in Sheridan, Wyoming.
Cora M. Beach, in Women of Wyoming, 1927
Researching the history of Trail End and its construction has been a fascinating, ongoing project. By sorting through hundreds of documents – blueprints, drawings, correspondence, diaries, newspaper accounts and photographs – we have learned more than just what a room looked like when it was built and how much it cost. In some instances, we’ve learned why a given room was designed and built the way it was, what changes were made over the years, and what family members were thinking at the time they made their decisions.
“Home Is Where The History Is” focuses solely on Trail End – its construction, its furnishings and its occupants – as well as what went into making it the historic treasure it is today.
BEST LAID PLANS
In September 1908, the following announcement appeared in the pages of the Sheridan Post:
Unfortunately, "as rapidly as possible" proved to be not very rapid at all. Because of design differences, construction difficulties, low cattle prices, and labor disputes, it would take nearly five years before the Kendrick family – John, his wife Eula and their children, Rosa-Maye and Manville – would be able to move into their new home.
Although Trail End took five years to build, work was not in progress that entire time. The first major work stoppage came in 1909 when a delay in the delivery of foundation granite caused John Kendrick to advise architect Glenn McAlister, "Unless [the granite] reaches us … every man on the building will be paid off and the work entirely stopped."
In 1910, work was halted for nearly two years when a drought caused such serious reversals in the cattle market that Kendrick had no extra cash to spend: "I feel it is best to bend all my energies and employ all the available funds at my command in protecting the business on which I depend rather than assuming further obligations."
Construction resumed in the spring of 1912 and hopes ran high that the family would soon be able to move into their new home. Unfortunately, 1912 brought even more problems. Along with a misplaced rail car full of woodwork (later located on a siding in Nunica, Michigan), Trail End’s principal contractor was plagued by labor disputes. As noted by Charles Lindner, president of Lindner Interior Manufacturing, "We [are] having trouble with our Finishers, in fact, with the entire factory force during the past two or three weeks, which of course has delayed all work." Nevertheless, Lindner remained optimistic:
Of course, the unforeseen happened: a fire at the main warehouse of electrical contractor Burgess-Granden led to a delay in installing the last of the light fixtures!
On July 25, 1913 – three days before Rosa-Maye Kendrick’s sixteenth birthday – she and her family finally moved into Trail End. The first party was given on July 28, in honor of both Rosa-Maye’s birth and the opening of the long-awaited Kendrick home. A series of teas and open houses followed during which friends and family were invited to see what five years of hard work had created. Not everyone could make a personal visit, however, so Eula Kendrick hired the Fuller Studio to take a series of room portraits. These were sent to vendors such as E. A. Wallace of Berkey & Gay, who received his set of black and white photographs in 1914. He quickly responded with his thanks, saying,
Mr. Wallace also noted that, after such a long time, it might seem a little odd to live without the constant confusion of over-attentive vendors, under-attentive workmen, delayed shipments and other assorted problems:
Though the annoyances continued for awhile – the furnace wasn’t operating correctly and the landscaping wasn’t finished – at least the family was home!
ARCHITECTS & DESIGNERS
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:
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.
Glen 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:
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:
The Kendricks followed Waid’s suggestions and the fireplaces were finished in a dignified Italian Pavanazzo marble.
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:
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.
TRAIL END TECHNOLOGY
The growth of technology during the early years of the twentieth century was phenomenal. Americans went from horse-drawn to horse-powered; candlelight to electric lights. By the time Trail End was being built, the Kendricks had a wide variety of "new-fangled" devices to choose from, most for the purpose of making life easier for both the homeowner and his employees.
One of the best labor savers available to the early twentieth century homeowner was electricity. It made dozens of household tasks easier, provided illumination for longer work hours, and provided several new means of communication, including intercoms and telephones. Sheridan got its first electricity in 1893, when the Sheridan Inn turned on a homemade generator. By the time Trail End was finished twenty years later, most new homes and businesses in town were wired for electric lights. Gas fixtures and kerosene lamps still lit the rooms of older homes, but they were being replaced as quickly as possible.
At Trail End, light fixtures included chandeliers and wall sconces, a variety of fancy floor and table lamps, plus plain but functional ceiling fixtures. The lights were turned on and off by push-button switches while the electricity itself was controlled by marble and copper fuse boxes. Electricity also powered a number of the home’s labor-savers, including the intercom, annunciator, curling irons, an alarm for the walk-in vault and even a stationary vacuum cleaner.
Cleaning rugs and floors has always been a tedious job. By the 1910s, however, the housekeeper had a helpful new tool: the vacuum cleaner. The term “vacuum cleaner” was first used by Hubert Booth to describe his 1901 kerosene-powered suction cleaner. Each unit sat on a horse-drawn wagon and was parked outside the home to be cleaned. Flexible hoses were fed through the windows to access each room. By 1906, Booth had developed a portable electric model, but its weight – close to 100 pounds – made it less than practical!
The United Electric Company (TUEC) offered another alternative: a built-in stationary air cleaner. Their advertisements held tantalizing promises of ease and convenience: "A built-in stationary cleaning system will keep your home sanitary, sweet and clean without work just as your stationary heating system keeps your home warm and comfortable without effort." A 1911 testimonial from M. A .Hockman went on to extol to device:
The Kendricks purchased their new TUEC system in 1913. Powered by an electric motor, the system operated through a maze of pipes connecting the basement motor to outlets located throughout the house. Hoses, tubes and various attachments were stored on each floor.
John B. Kendrick was a progressive man. If a modern piece of equipment or a new technology made a task easier or less expensive, he wanted to make use of it. Therefore, it is not surprising that he took advantage of many of the communications options available on the market. Early discussions centered around a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) system – a combination telephone-intercom supplied by Bell Telephone. Though versatile, this system had a few problems that could be distressing to the homeowner:
Eventually, Kendrick went with separate telephone and intercom systems. Powered by three dry cell batteries, the intercom was manufactured by Kellogg Switchboard of Chicago. The Burgess-Granden Company of Omaha supervised the installation to ensure that this modern system suited the Kendricks’ desires, both technologically and aesthetically:
As for the phones, none of the originals still exist. We do know, however, that there were at least a couple of desk phones in the home. These would have been the dial-less “candlestick” variety (dials were introduced several years later).
Unlike the OW Ranch, the Kendricks’ new home had indoor plumbing – and they weren’t shy about using it! City water and waste lines were run to the kitchen, butler’s pantry, eight full bathrooms, four partial baths, a twin-boiler furnace and the laundry room, plus sinks in three staff bedrooms and the third floor hallway. There was also a sprinkler system for the grounds, but its water was pumped uphill from Big Goose Creek.
Many of the plumbing fixtures at Trail End were purchased from James B. Clow & Sons of Chicago, which apparently took over from another plumber. Being substitutes, Clow & Sons were eager to please the Kendricks. As stated by manager W. J. Spillane in 1912:
Clow even went so far as to provide custom-made, solid porcelain bathtubs for the family bedrooms – and to accept their return when Eula Kendrick decided they weren’t to her liking.
So said George W. Laier of the firm Beaton & Laier in 1913, at a time when the Kendricks were despairing of their home ever looking the way they wanted. Through the combined efforts of Laier, interior designer D. Everett Waid, Charles Lindner and other primary contractors, however, Trail End eventually became a well-decorated home with harmonic flow and consistency of style from room to room. By examining a few of Trail End's rooms – the Foyer, Drawing Room, Dining Room and others – as well as the materials and furnishings used therein, we get a good insight into the design and decorating concepts and techniques utilized throughout the entire house.
When it came to decorating Trail End, color was a tool that could not to be ignored. Color could add drama, whimsy, lightness or freshness, depending on what colors were chosen and how they were used. In the foyer, color plays an important role. The ruby red rugs with their brown and gold geometric border, the red draperies and portieres, the gold and green hand-stenciled ceiling, the rich brown woodwork – all combine to give Trail End’s main entrance a richness that is missing from the white-painted rooms found in many of today’s homes.
The foyer is not a sterile room; it is one of warmth and comfort – an inviting place to enter and be with friends. While the original design specifications don’t mention specific colors, they do note the foyer ceiling’s treatment was to have a warm, rich, aged appearance:
Furniture is also an important decorating tool. While most of the furniture in Trail End is original to the house, it doesn’t all date to the 1910s. Over the years, the family purchased additional pieces and added them to their collection. Included in this category is the Empire love seat near the entrance door. Several items have been in the foyer from the beginning: the slant-top desk, the curved mahogany plant stands and the “Shakespeare” clock all appear in the 1913 room portrait.
While most of the furnishings and finishes in Trail End were made in America, a few were imported. The mahogany for the beams and wainscoting in the drawing and dining rooms, for example, came from Honduras. It was then machine-tooled by the Lindner Manufacturing Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The “piano finish” was attained by the application of multiple coats of paste wax.
European imports in the drawing room include the Italian Pavanazzo marble surrounding the fireplaces and the French silk damask wall coverings stretching from wainscoting to ceiling. There is a tall brass and glass lamp from Russia, while the silver tea service is English. A large floral study over the fireplace was painted by Raoul deLongpres, a 19th Century French artist renowned for his exquisite paintings of roses, lilacs and peonies.
One of the home’s most impressive imports is the massive hand-knotted Persian carpet overlaying the drawing room’s hardwood floor. As rug salesman A. J. Miller put it in 1911, "You are getting, without question, a most unusual, exclusive and pleasing rug." Made by nomadic Bijar weavers of northern Persia (Kurdistan), the rose and blue rug – already an antique when Mrs. Kendrick purchased it – contains roughly five and a half million knots. Its purchase price was the same as a typical three bedroom house in 1911: $3,125.
With eight fireplaces, two vestibules, twelve bathrooms, a kitchen and a butlers pantry all needing tile and/or marble work, the selection of the proper tile company was essential. After rejecting bids from firms in Minneapolis, Chicago and St. Paul, John Kendrick hired F. M. Hamling of Omaha to complete the job at a cost of approximately $4,000. While the Hamling Company crew did the actual work, they had to coordinate their efforts with the architect, interior designer, woodwork manufacturer, general contractor and the decorators in order to match styles and colors. Everything then had to be submitted to the Kendricks for review, as noted by Hamling manager William Nollmann in 1912:
In mid-1912, before the project was completed, F. M. Hamling unexpectedly died. The firm was quickly reorganized by William Nollmann as the Omaha Marble & Tile Company, and the Kendricks were reassured that their job would indeed proceed: "Mr. Hamling left a complete record of this job in the files, and same will proceed just the same as tho he were here, as all information has been taken and a careful record kept."
The tile work was completed in late 1912. By early 1913, cracks had begun to appear in several areas of the house. While the Kendricks questioned the workmanship, William Nollmann was adamant that the cracks were caused by shrinkage of lumber used in the floors:
Nollmann was apparently correct in his evaluation. In all the years since the tile was set, none has dropped from the walls. Several of the original cracks, however, continue to widen as the house settles.
The Trail End library’s layout and American Gothic design were patterned after one that Mrs. Kendrick had admired at a home in Virginia. The hallmark of Gothic styling – pointed arches – can be seen in both the chandelier and the wall panels. The diamond-shaped leaded glass doors add to the Gothic feeling. In September 1912, project manager John Gross of the Lindner Interior Manufacturing Company attempted to advise Mrs. Kendrick about her ideas for the bookcase doors:
In the end, Eula ignored Gross’s advice, choosing to adhere to her original vision – one she shared with her husband: "Mr. Kendrick is very much pleased with the beam ceilings, and the gothic effect in the library is entirely satisfactory, and we are sure it will be a charming and livable room."
One part of that vision that did change was the type of wood used in the library. Early room specs called for the same mahogany as the drawing room. Plans changed around 1912, however, and the room was finished in a warm Golden Oak instead.
As indicated in correspondence, Eula Kendrick was not fond of the “clumsy” oak library furniture popular in 1913. Instead, she ordered an older-styled “ropetwist” mahogany table. The delicate piece is ornamented with a spiral edge and sharply angled spiral-turned legs terminating in mahogany balls gripped by three-toed brass claws.
The attention paid to details in the furnishing of Trail End was impressive. The effort made to match colors with textures with materials with lighting was appreciated by everyone, especially the Kendricks. In 1913, they expressed their delight to the design firm of Beaton & Laier, who responded as follows: "We are very glad to learn that you are well pleased with your furnishings. From all the reports that we get it is the finest home ever furnished in your section of the country."
Some of the home’s finest furnishings are contained in the dining room. Like the drawing room, the dining room contains the dark richness of piano finish mahogany. It is decorated in soft shades of ivory and blue with just a touch of Old Rose added here and there. The wall panels and ceiling canvas, with their fruit motif, were hand painted. The wood mantel is carved with fruit to match the canvas, while hand-cast plaster medallions and moldings complete the ceilings and walls.
Trail End’s dining room suite was manufactured by the Retting Furniture Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Retting worked closely with Lindner Manufacturing to match the color of the tables and sideboards to the mahogany mantel and wall panels. The twenty dining chairs, fashioned in the Jacobean style, were originally covered in Florentine tapestry. Retting Furniture sent them to Omaha for upholstering in 1911-1912, but they were not delivered until the summer of 1913. The blue velvet portieres and draperies were delivered at about the same time.
Along with the chairs, the massive dining table and two large sideboards were ordered in early 1911. The smaller table in the corner is a miniature version of the dining table. It has a split top – one half swivels up so that the table can stand against the wall, taking up less space.
According to Manville Kendrick, the amily never ate in the kitchen; they took all their meals in the dining room. Every morning, until the time he moved out of the house, Manville ate his breakfast at the dining table – usually a steak, fried tomato and toast. As he noted in 1982, "I would defend any indication that she was snobbish, but I don’t think my mother planned for us to spend much time in the kitchen."
During their years in Cheyenne and Washington, the Kendrick family met many famous people: politicians, statesmen, and European royalty. As was the common practice at the time, they exchanged portraits with these people. At one time, the large wall above the bookcase in the second floor hallway was home to dozens of these large framed portraits. The original set contained photos of presidents Wilson, Hoover and Coolidge, Queen Marie of Roumania, and many of Wyoming’s leading politicians such as Joseph Carey, Robert Carey and Nellie Tayloe Ross. There were also U. S. Senators and political appointees as well.
Most of the portraits were autographed and inscribed with statements of friendship or affection. Eula Kendrick’s predecessor in the Governors’ Mansion, Mrs. Joseph Maull Carey, signed her 1931 portrait as follows:
your old time friend of many years,
Louisa David Carey.
John and Eula weren’t the only ones who collected portraits. Both Rosa-Maye and her sister-in-law, Diana Kendrick, were recipients of similar photographic remembrances.
In most early references, the third floor space was identified as the “attic playroom.” As the building process continued, however, the name (and function) eventually changed to “ballroom.” Some even referred to it as the “assembly room.” Despite the architect’s 1911 vision, the ballroom was finished very simply. Leaded glass windows and an elaborate mantel were abandoned in favor of a more subdued approach.
A few frivolous touches remained: the stained glass windows in the south alcove, for example, and the four large “Tiffany-styled” verdigris chandeliers. The diamond-patterned swinging windows were a later change instigated by Eula Kendrick. As Lindner Interiors noted in 1912, "Your suggestion to use leaded instead of plain glass, is a great improvement, and we are enclosing herewith a copy of our shop drawing showing the glass panels according to your idea."
The rough-hewn Georgia Pine beams, the natural birch wood trim and the simple Maryland Maple dance floor all contribute to the simplicity of the room. The plain stucco ceiling, fairly unusual for an interior finish, was part of the design from early on. It was described in the 1911 plaster specs as follows: "Entire ceilings and walls of play room in attic to be finished in rough cast sand finish with pebble dash surface. Pebbles to be placed thinly on surface. All pebbles and sand to be washed thoroughly clean."
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:
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 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:
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:
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, and cast in the Braun Manufacturing Company's foundry in. 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 built-in “Murphy” bed – a closet-like piece of furniture in which the bed was folded up and stored during the day. It stood between a pair of wall sconces and had a mirrored front.
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 east bedroom, for example, was the largest of the three. It had cream colored walls and an arched window alcove. The north bedroom, or “Yellow Room” was the only one with balcony access. The west bedroom, called the “Blue Room,” was frequently occupied by Eula’s parents.
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:
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 night.
|By the 1910s, the diminishing ranks of potential
domestic servants was being felt all over the country. At Trail End, the Kendricks –
doubt hoping to tempt better quality staff –
made sure that the work areas of the house,
including the kitchen and laundry room, were comfortable places to work. Gone were
wooden-floored kitchens full of smoke and dank laundry areas with no plumbing. In their
place, Trail End had a modern sanitary kitchen, a convenient butlers' pantry, and a
basement laundry room with laundry chute and double-ringer tubs.
Historically, because they were work areas and not public areas or family rooms, kitchens tended to be overlooked when it came to allocating space inside the home. Most tended to be small, dark places where wood-burning stoves poured out grease, dust and unbearable heat. Because of the risk of fire, kitchens were sometimes housed in separate outbuildings. Around the turn of the 20th century, health researchers discovered that improper food handling and preparation was a major cause of illness. People soon learned that cleaner kitchens made for healthier families. Dirt floors and bare wood were abandoned in favor of porcelain, ceramic and other easy-to-clean surfaces.
Trail End’s kitchen – built with modern materials and conveniences – is a good example of a sanitary, “hospital white” kitchen. Its ceramic floor and counter tiles were easy to clean, as were the porcelain wall tiles, marble trimmed windows and enamel painted woodwork. The white surfaces reflected plenty of light, and the room’s large dimensions gave the cook ample space in which to prepare the food.
To control heat, the kitchen could be isolated from the rest of the house by closing the doors to the pantry and hallway. The heat then went up and out through transoms and windows that opened from the top. To prevent hot air and noise from reaching the dining room, the cook would slide the prepared food – pan and all – into the butler’s pantry through the small opening next to the sink. Waiting on the other side in the Butlers' Pantry was the maid or housekeeper who would then transfer the food from the pan to a serving dish.
Why does Trail End have a Butlers’ Pantry when it didn’t have a butler? Because “butlers’ pantry” is the American name for what the English called a “serving room” or “side-board room.” It is a pass-through area located between the kitchen and the dining room used to store dishes, linens and flatware. It is also where food was plated for service. As noted in an 1889 description of a house similar to Trail End, the butlers’ pantry was to be situated for the convenience of both the family and the staff:
A spacious butlers’ pantry also provided a buffer between the kitchen and the dining room: "In this position it serves also the useful purpose of preventing the necessary odors of the kitchen from permeating [other rooms], and is of convenient size, with appropriate dresser, shelving [and] drawers."
Trail End's pantry cabinets are made of butternut and birch. They were manufactured and installed by Lindner Interior Manufacturing of Grand Rapids. The pantry sink and drain board are made of German Silver – a precursor to stainless steel. Because it was more flexible than porcelain, the metal sink was the perfect selection for a room where fine crystal and delicate china would be washed on a regular basis.
Work on the pantry was complicated by changes made between the time the blueprints were drawn and when work was actually begun. In the butlers’ pantry, for example, the sink was moved from the east wall to the west wall, the door was relocated, and a floor-to-ceiling cabinet was installed in the middle of the room. According to the manager of Omaha Marble, this caused some delay in the setting of the tile, but not a lot:
While such changes were seen as good ones, they impacted more than just one area of the house:
Trail End's original icebox was a built-in model that stood in front of a ground floor window. Outside stairs leading up to it allowed the iceman to deposit his product in the top of the box without tracking mud and straw into the house. An additional cold storage area was located in the basement.
Doing the laundry was once a grueling chore. In homes without running water, buckets full of well water had to be hauled into the house, heated on the stove and then poured into large washtubs. Clothes were scrubbed by hand with harsh soaps, rinsed in hot water, and hand-wrung before being hung to dry. Even in households with indoor plumbing, washing and drying clothes usually occupied an entire day. The popularity of starched white shirts, lacy dresses and linen sheets made laundry a task that required a great deal of time and attention.
During this time, other household tasks had to be ignored. There wasn’t even time to cook. Wash day was often relegated to Monday because elaborate Sunday dinners provided plenty of leftovers. (Ironing day, incidentally, was usually set for Tuesday.) As noted in one book of household hints:
This same book suggested that homemakers with servants take washing and ironing into consideration when planning for guests:
Even without electric washers and dryers, Trail End was well-equipped to ease the wash day blues. The housekeeper and maid retrieved dirty clothes and linens from the laundry chute, located just down the hall from the laundry room. In the laundry room, they washed and rinsed the clothes by hand in three large sinks along the east wall. The wet material was wrung through wringers attached to the tops of the sinks, then hung to dry on the circular clothesline located in the west yard. While Trail End’s laundry facilities later included a pair of electric washing machines, the family never installed an electric clothes dryer. Clothes were always hung out to dry.
THE HIRED HELP
Despite their wealth and the size of the house, the Kendrick family did not like to keep a large staff. They didn't have a butler to work in the butlers' pantry, and the basement chauffeur's bedroom stood empty most of the time. They did, however, like to have a cook and a housekeeper on staff at all times, to be joined on occasion by a maid. When Diana Kendrick took over the household management in 1929, she expressed her personal desire to do away with the maid service. As she noted in a letter to her mother-in law,
Apparently Eula Kendrick though it would be a good idea to keep a maid on staff, as Diana's hiring problems continued throughout the 1930s, not just with maids, but with cooks as well.
At the turn of the century, having a hired source of "muscle power" was seen as an indicator of status. Unfortunately for those wishing to hire them, the number of women willing and able to work outside the home was dropping. 1870 census records showed one servant available to every eight American families. By 1910 that servant/household ratio had dropped to 1/12, falling further to 1/16 by 1920. Many factors contributed to the decline in servants, one of the main ones being increased opportunities in the job market due to the impact of World War One. Men were needed overseas so women were offered work in factories, offices and hospitals. Domestic service was no longer the only option for those women needing their own income.
Conditions for those working in factories could be harsh, but many women were willing to put up with stifling temperatures, low pay and dangerous machinery rather than return to domestic service. Why was that? Most maids were not treated harshly or cruelly. They were given a room of their own – for many, it was the first privacy they'd ever known – and a fairly decent salary. According to author Elizabeth Hale Gilman, who penned the 1916 book Housekeeping, responsibility often lay at the feet of the indifferent employer:
As a girl, Eula Kendrick learned how to do various housekeeping chores – cleaning, sewing, etc. – from her mother. One thing she did not learn, however, was cooking. Her father always kept a cook in the house, so Eula and her sister Mattie were given little chance to practice their culinary skills. While Eula later taught herself the basics, she usually had a cook on staff.
Although Eula (or, later her daughter-in-law Diana) decided what type of meal was to be served on any given day, the cook was the one who knew which meats, fruits, vegetables and other products were in season and what could be done with them. Before the advent of refrigeration, a good cook’s abilities were tested daily by the availability of needed goods at local markets and dairies.
Trail End’s cook was the undisputed queen of the kitchen. She was responsible for everything from a simple slice of toast in the morning to elaborate multi-course meals and impressive desserts. Here is one menu as prepared by an unidentified Trail End cook in 1930:
Caviar & Onion Canapés
Cheese Ring with Stuffed Olives
Clear Soup with Toast Sticks
Fish Mold with Hard-Boiled Eggs and White Wine Sauce
Cucumber Ring with Chopped Radishes
Bread & Butter
Leg of Lamb with Gravy and Mint Jelly
Riced Potatoes ▪ Fresh Peas ▪ Rolls
Lettuce Salad with French Dressing
Molded Frozen Cream with Nuts ▪ Cookies
Coffee & Benedictine
Because the family appreciated a good cook so much, some stayed for many years. Anna Simmerman, for example, a Swedish immigrant who started with Eula Kendrick in 1916, was still working here in early 1929 when Diana Kendrick arrived as a new bride:
Anna Simmerman left her job at Trail End in May of 1929, shortly after the death of her husband, long-time Trail End caretaker George Simmerman. In late spring of 1930, she returned for a brief while to help out while Diana labored to find a permanent cook, and continued to work at Trail End off and on until shortly before her death in 1934.
In Sheridan, domestic servants – paid household workers – came from a variety of religious, ethnic and racial backgrounds. While some families employed Asian or African-American men as gardeners and porters, most female workers were of European descent. Many were daughters of miners who came to Sheridan from eastern Europe, Ireland, Austria and Scandinavia.
Most maids hired out when they were quite young and quit working as soon as they were married. In 1930, Diana Kendrick described one girl she’d just interviewed for a maid’s position:
While some housekeepers and cooks stayed for years, Trail End’s maids rarely lasted more than a few months. Because of their inexperience, most made only $30 a month. As soon as higher paying jobs came along, they left. As noted by Diana Kendrick, such was the case with “Margaret,” a favorite maid who left in 1929: "I don’t blame her a bit, as she said she’d had an application in for a job at the telephone office for a year, and will get $1.75 a day to start, and $70 a month later. She really seemed to hate to go …" Margaret had been a favorite of Manville Kendrick’s, according to Diana, because "Margaret is a jewel – we certainly appreciate her. Manville claims she is the only living maid who will empty an ash try without even being told!
Like most maids in wealthy households, Trail End’s maids wore uniforms. Nearly everyone is familiar with the traditional uniform of the American maid: the black dress with white apron and cap has been described in books and magazines for over a hundred years. This was the same uniform worn by maids at Trail End.
The uniform immediately identified the wearer’s place in society and its modest design allowed the maid to fade into the background in any social setting. It was also a sturdy garment and could be worn while performing the dirtiest work. Most uniforms were provided by the employer, thus saving the maid from damaging her own clothes (of which she probably had few).
It was not only maids who wore uniforms at Trail End: the cooks were supposed to as well. In 1933, Eula Kendrick received a letter from Diana Kendrick, describing the newest cook:
THE FAMILY AT HOME
A look at the history of Trail End's construction wouldn't be complete without a look at the man who built the house, the family which lived in it, and their reactions to its existence.
Trail End was the home – and long-time dream – of cowboy-turned-politician John B. Kendrick (1857-1933). Kendrick family members say it was his vision that guided the project from the beginning. When his wife, Eula Wulfjen Kendrick, balked at the thought of living in such a large house, her mother advised her to support her husband’s wishes. As cousin Mary Kendrick Morgan told Manville Kendrick, "I heard your grandmother tell your mother not to oppose [your father] about the house, that he had worked hard and building that house had been a dream of his for a long time."
It was also John Kendrick who gave the house its distinctive name. In January 1914, Wilbur Burgess, owner of Burgess-Granden, noted in a letter to Eula:
Unfortunately, Kendrick’s time in his new home was limited. After his election as governor of Wyoming in 1914, the family had to relocate to Cheyenne – only eighteen months after moving into the finished home. Two years later Kendrick was elected to the Senate and the family moved to Washington, D. C. After that, Trail End became just a vacation home for John and Eula.
In one way, Trail End did became the end of John Kendrick’s trail: following his death from a cerebral hemorrhage in 1933, his funeral service was held in the house.
According to family members, Eula Wulfjen Kendrick (1872-1961) was not eager to take on the responsibility of such a large home as Trail End. Mary Kendrick Morgan lived on the ranches during the planning phase of the project. She later told Manville,
Though she may have been apprehensive about managing a 13,748 square foot home, Eula was eagerly looking forward to living in town. Having attended finishing school in Colorado, Eula was trained in both music and public speaking, but had little opportunity to express herself with either. Long isolated on the OW Ranch, Eula was anxious to lead a more social life, similar to the one she’d known as a young girl.
Since 1895, Eula had been a member of Sheridan’s Cecilian Club, an organization of society ladies with a shared love of classical music and literature. Because the OW was so far from town she was not able to attend as many of the meetings as she would have liked. After moving into Sheridan in 1909, Eula was finally able to pursue her interest in the arts. She performed at meetings of the Cecilian Club, and later served as president of the Sheridan Women’s Club (the successor to the Cecilian Club).
Under Eula’s guiding hand, Trail End was the site of frequent dances, dinners, teas and luncheons. An invitation to Trail End was an invitation to fine food, lively entertainment and a good deal of intelligent conversation.
When it came time to move into Trail End, the Kendricks’ eldest child, Rosa-Maye Kendrick (1897-1979), was apprehensive. The large mansion was very different from her lifelong home on the OW ranch. As she noted in her 1913 diary, "Have been in town two or three days now. House was bewildering when I first came in. Am just beginning to feel at home last day or so." It did not take long for Rosa-Maye to get into the swing of things, though. In no time, she was attending dances, hosting card parties and going to the movies. Even though she had to leave the ranch behind, she was able to bring a part of it with her: her beloved horses were moved to town and housed in the carriage house.
In 1915, Rosa-Maye went east to continue her schooling, first attending Ely Court in Connecticut, and later Baltimore’s Goucher College. Until she married in 1927, she lived in Washington D. C. with her parents, coming back to Wyoming every summer for vacation. When Rosa-Maye married Major Hubert Reilly Harmon, her whole life changed. She was suddenly an Army wife whose place was by her husband’s side. As revealed in a 1932 letter to his son Manville, John Kendrick knew full well that his daughter would never live at Trail End again: "Your sister will never find it possible to do this. An army officer is not unlike a Methodist preacher who has neither a home nor even a native state, but is constantly moving from place to place."
After initial postings in London and New York, the Harmons later lived in Kansas, Georgia, Texas, California and Colorado. In 1955, Hubert – by then an Air Force general – served as the first supervisor of the U. S. Air Force Academy.
Along with the rest of the family, Manville Kendrick (1900-1992) moved into Trail End in 1913 … and out again in 1914. Following years of schooling at Philips-Exeter Academy, Harvard University and Ames Agricultural College, Manville returned to the west in 1923 to work on the ranches. In 1929, Manville married Washington debutante Diana Cumming and moved with her into Trail End. While they saw it as a temporary stop on the road to home ownership, John Kendrick felt that the couple should make the mansion their permanent home:
Disregarding her father-in-law’s advice, Diana bought land in the early 1930s and had detailed house plans drawn up. Even so, she and Manville eventually abandoned such dreams. Continued family pressure, combined with the financial downturns of the Great Depression, convinced them to move into Trail End permanently.
Like his father, Manville centered his business activities in Sheridan. Following John’s death in 1933, Manville took over the reins of the Kendrick Cattle Company and held them until the properties were sold in the late 1980s. Manville and Diana lived in Trail End for thirty-two years. They raised two sons here, and moved out only after Eula Kendrick’s death in 1961.
In 1929, Manville Kendrick married Clara Diana Cumming (1901-1987), only daughter of U. S. Surgeon General Hugh Smith Cumming. Following an extended honeymoon cruise through the Panama Canal, the couple moved to Sheridan, where Diana took over the management of Trail End. While she and Manville were new to the task, Diana was fierce about wanting an opportunity to prove herself to her new mother-in-law, as she noted in March 1929 (following a few staffing difficulties),
In the same letter, Diana expressed her willingness to learn more about what it took to keep a large home running smoothly and efficiently: "I’d be only too glad to pay the house bills. As you say, it would teach me something about housekeeping that couldn’t be learned any other way, and I’d love the experience."
Eula was away from Sheridan quite a lot – first spending time with her husband in Washington and later taking trips to warmer climates for her health. In her absence, Diana gained a good deal of practical experience in running a household. While she wrote to Eula about nearly everything that went on at home, Diana didn’t always seek permission before making changes. Once, she completely rearranged the furniture in the Drawing Room without first seeking Eula’s approval, only telling her mother-in-law about it – rather cautiously – well after the fact!
Although John Kendrick purchased the land upon which Trail End stands in 1895, he waited a dozen years before making the decision to begin building his "dream home."