Are you tired of the heat yet? While we can’t change the weather at whim and are actually glad to not have that responsibility (we’ll gladly point you to some literature pointing out those pitfalls), we do have a few suggestions for activities that might provide a welcome diversion. For those with slightly deeper pockets, the Prohibition Party on the Kell House grounds coming up on October 2nd is shaping up to be a fabulous affair with live music, a painter-in-residence, and a raffle that will net the winner $1,000. Join in and dress up! For those of you with smaller wallets, a window workshop coming up on September 25th on the Kell House grounds will provide expert instruction for DYI wooden window restoration. And just because it’ll be here before we know it, make plans to attend our usual Fall festivities, from family friendly programming such as the Mad Hatter Tea and the Jack O’Lantern Jubilee, to the more adult oriented Haunted Tours. We’ve got it all!
The Kell House Architecture Alphabet continues this week. Hang with letter ‘H’ for just a bit longer. This hold-over focuses on glass, ‘Hammered glass,’ to be exact. By definition it is translucent glass embossed on one side to resemble hammered metal. This is accomplished as the molten glass is poured onto a table and immediately rolled with a metal cylinder. Depending on the method, either the table was textured, or the roller. The Victorians were responsible for its introduction.
Its purpose is to provide not only a different and interesting surface, but also privacy. This type of glass is prevalent in especially bathrooms, such the hall bath upstairs. This was the bathroom for the Kell children, all seven of them.
Joseph was known to have locked himself into the bathroom in the morning on at least one occasion, turning the water on and escaping through this window to run to school, while his sisters were knocking on the door.
We won’t say the two incidents are connected, but Joseph was sent off to military school the next following week…
The term ‘Hammered’ resonates with the texture above, does it not? There are a wide variety of patterns used for this type of glass, including water glass and rough rolled.
On the right is the full view of the window in the hall bath. If you have ever heard of ‘Cathedral glass,’ that is translucent glass, whether colored or clear, but designed to allow light to transmit. The technical opposite is ‘Opalescent glass’ or glass with a milky appearance that in its true form does not transmit light.
This week remains homed in with the letter ‘H,’ even though we debated whether to send this one packing as it may be easy enough to describe with words, but then trying to actually show it…that was a whole ‘nother thing! So, let us know what you think!
‘H’ stands for ‘Hipped’! In the case of the Kell House, that describes the roof line. A hipped roof is comprised of adjacent flat surfaces that slope upward from all sides of the perimeter of the building, requiring a hip rafter along each intersection of the inclined surfaces. If you picture a pyramid, with or without a ridge along the top, that’s it!
On the left is drone shot from 2010 and provides a rare view of the top of the house. Notice how the one gable (a triangular surface met on each side with pitched roof surfaces) is at the front of the house and every other roof surface slopes down toward the edge of the roof itself. Each of the dormers are hipped as well.
And then we got a little ambitious! The vocabulary was just too interesting to pass up…did we ever mention that we tend to geek out every now and then?…The Carriage House has a simple hipped roof with a ridge board at the top. If there were just a peak, it would be called a pyramidal roof.
The Kell House has what is essentially a cross-hipped roof, as it has an embellished ‘L’ shape. Each of the rafters that connect the corners with the ridge board are hip rafters, covered by hip capping or hip molding. The rafters that run all around the bottom of the roof are the principal rafters (the strong man at the bottom that all the rafters rest on); the common rafters run from the ridge to the principal rafter; and our favorite, jack rafters, which are the shorter rafters, and don’t run the full length between ridge and principal.
On the left is the view underneath the roof, looking directly down one of the hip rafters. The shorter rafters connecting to the hip are jack rafters, resting on the principal rafter at the bottom on the far end. The two posts supporting the hip and jack rafters are called struts. The long beams at the bottom are ceiling/floor joists.
The Kell House Museum is part of the Regional Museum Network Exhibit on display now through December 4th, 2021, at the Museum of Art at MSU (2 Eureka Circle). Go for a visit:
Guess who stopped by to pick up her canvas? We are thrilled to announce that Selena Mize will be the featured live painter during our upcoming Prohibition Dinner Party on the Kell House grounds. Not only do you get to watch her creative process, but you will also be able to bid on her painting to quite possibly take it home at the end of the evening!
Do you have your tickets yet? This long-table dinner under bistro lights will be held outside with plenty of space to breathe and allow for social distancing.
Saturday, October 2nd
7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
There will be live music by the MSU Jazz Ensemble, live painting by Selena Mize, a photo booth, cash bar, and a reverse raffle. Your entry ticket automatically enters you for a chance at $1,000.
Do you remember where you were on September 11, 2001, twenty years ago when you heard about airplanes hitting the twin towers? Most of us probably do, it’s one of those moments burned into memories. Especially the days that followed left an impression that changed many people’s perspectives on the world around them. Our thoughts are with all those who died that day, the first responders, all those who heeded the call to serve their country in the aftermath, and their families. Never forget.
Are you ready for another letter in the Kell House Architecture Alphabet? A new letter enters the fray today, and it is number eight, the humble ‘H.’
‘H’ is a hardworking letter, and so we are showing off some of what it does. For the Kell House, ‘H’ stands for ‘Hardware’. When it comes to construction and architecture, there are two different types of hardware, the very essential ‘rough hardware,’ or the screws, nails, nuts, and bolts that hold the whole building together, and the ‘finish hardware,’ representing the prettier, more visible, but just as necessary fittings, catches, locks, and hinges. (To add a third element, the tools that are needed in order to put all those things together, hammers, hacksaws, and hawks are also hardware, by the way.)
While we will spend some time later on in the alphabet with some of the parts that make up our house but aren’t as shiny and pretty, this time, we’ll hang out with the handsome hardware pieces we have to offer.
We do show this off during tours, but don’t really focus on the hardware… the Kell House has two rooms that feature some unusual doors… Notice the recessed pull and what appears to look like a dotted ‘i’ in the narrow part of the door.
Ha! Push the dot on the ‘i’ and a very handy pull pops out.
Just in case you didn’t guess already, the hardware in question is part of the pocket doors for the parlor (pictured on the left). Pocket doors became all the rage during the Victorian era (1837-1901) in both the United Kingdom and the United States.
The main driver was wanting to make more space available in the home. Early versions operated on a floor mechanism that proved susceptible to deterioration, with floors bowing, the mechanism breaking down, as well as being noisy.
The pocket door on the right leads into the dining room and is often overlooked. By the 1880’s a top rail system had been invented that made these types of doors easier to keep in good repair. By the 1920’s their had popularity faded but surged again during post World War II construction in the 1950’s and has stuck with us since then.
On the left is a detail from the dining room pocket door hardware. The ‘i’ dot that is also a push button for the finger pull doubles as a lock. It’s quite ingenious.
This fabulous group of people spent Friday, September 10th traveling to Denton and Plano, exploring historic sites and enjoying the company. On the itinerary were the 1884 Bayless-Selby House Museum, the Denton County African American Museum, the 1896 Denton County courthouse, and the Heritage Farmstead Museum in Plano. Snacks on the bus and great company are always part of the deal. Keep an eye out for the next trip, so you can join in!
Get to Work!
On your windows, that is! With some training, you *can* restore your own wooden windows! Here is your chance to learn how to do it:
Hull Millwork will be on site at the Kell House Museum on
Saturday, September 25th
9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
The workshop will include a presentation on window restoration, hands-on instruction, and a take-home packet for all participants. There will even be snacks!
The Kell House Museum’s Prohibition Dinner Party is coming up fast! Do you have your tickets yet? This long-table dinner under bistro lights will be held outside with plenty of space to breathe and allow for social distancing.
Saturday, October 2nd
7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
There will be live music by the MSU Jazz Ensemble, live painting by Selena Mize, a photo booth, cash bar, and a reverse raffle. Your entry ticket automatically enters you for a chance at $1,000. Secure your seats now – Get your Tickets HERE!
Happy Labor Day! The Kell House Museum is generally closed for all major holidays, and so you will have come visit us later this week or next weekend for a tour! The first Labor Day was celebrated in 1882, it became a federal holiday in 1894. The first parade associated with the event was staged in Manhattan, even though it was slow to get going, as riots were feared, resulting in a large police presence. Eventually, about 200 people from the Jeweler’s Union gathered, setting the celebration on its course, with an eventual 20,000 participants marching. Reports from the time noted that “Lager beer kegs … mounted in every conceivable place.” The Kells would not have approved of the beer, but it apparently set forth a tradition for this unofficial end of the American summer that refuses to be squashed!
It’s a grand new week and that means we’re going to take a gander at another “G” word for the Kell House Architecture Alphabet. You know, for the great gaiety of it all! Our featured addition might seem familiar if you remember your high school or college German…no worries if you don’t, your secret will be safe with us.
The go-to “G” word is “Garderobe”! Any ideas? It is also known as a wardrobe, or a small bedroom or study. Generally, it is a room for the storage of garments, or a closet! It is also often used as a euphemism for a latrine in Medieval buildings…
Are you ready to be part of some myth-busting?
None of the original 13 colonies charged a “closet tax,” and the reason early American homes did not have closets is simply because they did not have nearly as much ‘stuff’ or clothes as we do now. Whatever clothing they did need to store was held in armoires or chests.
On the right is the inside of Joseph’s closet…we’re a bit embarrassed that it’s not better organized. Putting this out here might spurn us to do some organizing …maybe…
There is some speculation as to where the idea of the ‘closet tax’ originated, and it may stem from the ‘window tax’ that was charged in England from 1696 to 1851. The idea was that to peg the tax bill to the proportionate wealth of the homeowner. The more windows a building had, the larger it was, and so the wealthier the owner. This did result in some windows being bricked up and the construction of homes with fewer windows. Both Virginia and Pennsylvania unsuccessfully tried instituting a window tax in the 1800s. But taxing for closet space was never attempted.
On the left is the Little Girls’ Room, it also features a closet!
Closets were originally spaces that were added to wealthier Medieval homes to provide a more private space, since sleeping was generally done in the central area of the home, leaving little room for storage of precious items or spending in private prayer or contemplation, so the closet was added.
As homes grew larger in Europe, the closet gradually disappeared. Clothes were stored in chests or armoires. A side note – coat hangers were not invented until 1869!
The inside of the Little Girls’ Room closet is pictured on the right. Yeah, you got us, we need to clean this one out, too. Those boxes don’t hold anything of note, just more boxes!
When the Puritans made their way to this continent, they took the closet with them, even though they were mainly used for storing things. The number and size of closets expanded as more ‘stuff’ became the norm.
Today’s dream closets feature chairs and areas for relaxation, taking the idea back to its very origin!
And you thought it was “just” Labor Day! September 6th, 2021, is also National Read a Book Day! While its origins are somewhat unclear, it is American. Various challenges make the rounds, from just taking time, guilt-free, to do some reading as the pleasurable escape that it is, to attempting to read one whole book in one day. Here are a few fun facts connected to reading:
The average (non-speed) reader reads between 200 and 300 words per minute. So, it would take you about that long to read this section of the newsletter!
Roughly 72% of Americans read at least one book over the past twelve months. And 65% read a print book. So even with the availability of audio and e-books, holding that printed volume in hand still has great appeal.
About 17% of readers prefer mysteries, while 9% prefer history as a subject matter. Willie May Kell was a fan of the former, while Mr. Frank Kell was an avid reader of the latter.
So, even though we wish we could invite you all to hang on in the comfy chair in the Kell House library, pictured on the left, (we can’t – 1. We’re closed for Labor Day. 2. It’s a museum, so you can’t sit there…) how about you find your own peaceful spot with a book and escape for bit today?
A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies … the man who never reads lives only one.
George R. R. Martin
As part of the Regional Museum Network, a vital piece of the Kell House Museum is on display!
For this third annual installment, each participating museum focused on telling the stories and highlighting the passions of their museum’s founders and sustainers through the objects, photographs, artworks, and stories carried forward by museums to empower the future.
You might be a bit surprised when you find out more about our chosen approach for this exhibit…as no actual artifacts were transported to the Museum of Art at MSU. Here’s the challenge – head on over to 2 Eureka Circle, Wichita Falls, Texas, between September 4th and December 4th, and leave us some feedback on our take on the exhibit. We promise to respond.
The Kell House Museum’s Prohibition Dinner Party is coming up fast! Do you have your tickets yet? This long-table dinner under bistro lights will be held outside (read: plenty of room to breathe and allow for social distancing!). It is on for Saturday, October 2nd, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. There will be live music by the MSU Jazz Ensemble, live painting by Selena Mize, a photo booth, cash bar, and a reverse raffle. Your entry ticket automatically enters you for a chance at $1,000.
It is Hotter than Hell Hundred Weekend! That means locals tend to ride, volunteer, or hunker down in their homes until it’s all over. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground! The Kell House will be open for tours and hopes to entice some of the visiting support crew to make a side trip for some cool local history. We wish everyone a safe and successful ride, run, (or shopping experience) and are glad that big events like this that put Wichita Falls on the map are here forty years later!
We’re bringing in the letter “F” as part of the Kell House Architecture Alphabet. Unfortunately for “F,” though, the sixth letter of the alphabet is showing its fake side…with “Fan Window,” which is a semi-circular or fan-shaped window with radiating glazing bars or tracery set out in a semi-circular or elliptical shape set over a door or window.
Let us explain…
If you look at the window in the center gable on the right, you might be able to tell that the semi-circle above the center window appears to fan out, even though it only hints at the shape. It’s a bit of a “false fan window” as you will be able to see in the next picture.
Look below…the view that only staff usually gets, from the attic. This is also known as a Palladian window, so named after 16th century architect Andrea Palladio, which features a tall central arched window flanked on each side by a shorter rectangular window. This feature is generally associated with classical revival architecture and rarely seen in American construction before 1893.
This work area is used for our collections. Notice the view – First United Methodist Church beyond the trees. No, the Kells were Presbyterian, but the church is lovely, nonetheless.
As you might be able to tell, the window is not in the greatest shape, and the outside cover hides the semi-circular shape it has, even if without actual fan window panels! It is possible that this window was a true fan window at some point, but as we have no record or pictures of it, we can only speculate.
Early Giving for TexomaGives has begun! This annual day of giving helps support your favorite Kell House programs. We are lucky enough to be able to issue a matching challenge: If we raise $500 in early giving (between August 26th and September 8th), an anonymous donor will donate up to $500! Help us out, won’t you? Donate by clicking on the following link:
Are you ready for another Kell House Architecture Alphabet featured letter? Since the first feature ushered in “F” with a bit of fakery and falsehood, we thought we’d redeem the sixth letter of the alphabet with a true “F” word…”fenestration”!
It’s one of those two-cent words that may just come in handy while couch surfing through old rounds of Jeopardy! or Wheel of Fortune. It is simply defined as “the arrangement of windows in a wall.” The picture on the right was taken following Snowmageddon 2021. Notice how regular the windows are on this south wall of the Kell House. Lots of large windows were needed for cross ventilation when the house was built, as air conditioning for residential use did not become common in Texas until the 1940s.
Here is another two-cent word to put in your back pocket – defenestration, or the act of throwing someone or something out of a window…it is said that it was coined in about 1618 when such an incident in Prague sparked the Thirty Years War. An earlier defenestration of city officials in 1419, also in Prague, sparked the Hussite war. These are but two examples…so beware angry mobs and officials near windows!
It is time for “G” to make its grand entrance into the Kell House Architecture Alphabet. While the focus could be on “gable” (triangular wall segment at the end of double-pitched or gabled roof) or “glazing” (setting glass in a window), we found a far sweeter term for which to gather information. How many of you have heard of “Gingerbread Ornamentation”?
While our examples are not many, we did find a prominent go-to right on the front of the house! Gingerbread ornamentation is also called “Spindle Work” or “Eastlake detailing” and is highly decorative and elaborate woodwork, usually turned on a lathe and/or fashioned with a jigsaw. It was widely applied to American homes between 1870 and 1910 and is often seen on “Queen Anne” or “Folk Victorian” style homes.
Usually only seen from a distance, as this is the screen door on the upstairs porch, this is our example displaying some beautiful Gingerbread ornamentation.
This decidedly Victorian detailing spread throughout the United States as a result of the growth of the railroad system. Local trade centers had easier access to the heavy woodworking machinery necessary to create this type of Spindle work. In addition, local lumberyards also had easy access to abundant supplies of pre-cut detailing from distant mills. These now inexpensive pieces were simply grafted onto traditional folk homes. Homeowners also used this availability in order to update their decor.
Millwork Window Workshop at Kell House
Hull MillworkThe Wichita County Heritage Society is excited to announce the Kell House Museum, in conjunction with the City of Wichita Falls, will host Hull Millwork for a Window Restoration Workshop:
Saturday, September 25th
9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
$10 per participant
All tools provided
Brent Hull and his team will share their 25+ years of experience in historic window restoration in both residential and commercial settings. Participants will receive historic information, a restoration packet, and hands-on instruction on restoring historic windows. If you have ever wanted to learn how to do it yourself, here is your chance!
9 a.m. – 12 p.m.Kell House Museum 900 Bluff Street
The Kell House has a new intern!!! Thanking our lucky stars for a great relationship with the Midwestern State University Humanities Department, we are pleased to announce an (albeit temporary) addition to our staff –
“Hi! My name is Phillip Coleman. I will graduate from MSU in December with a major in history. I love visiting museums and hope to work in one someday, which makes this internship a great opportunity for me.”
Phillip started hanging out (or really getting dragged along) with us this week, getting exposed to the endless number of hats staff wears on an on-going basis. From a Landmark Commission meeting and subsequent Texas Historical Commission training to various other activities on the Kell House site, exposure to all things ‘job at small museum’ was on the agenda. We look forward to having him on board for the next few months.
Do you have your tickets yet? Get them today! This long-table dinner under bistro lights is on for Saturday, October 2nd, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. There will be live music by the MSU Jazz Ensemble, live painting, a photo booth, cash bar, and a reverse raffle. Your entry ticket automatically enters you for a chance at $1,000. Here is the ticket link – http://bit.ly/PartyatKellHouse. See you soon!
As the 2021-22 school year is about to begin, in quintessential Texas style, we’re crossing all available fingers that the gamble pays out in our favor. The Kell House is forging ahead with fall planning as well. Even with work slated to begin on the outside of the structure, look for full fall programming to accompany our busy schedule. While more details will follow later, the Jack O’Lantern Jubilee, Haunted Tours, and Santa House are in the planning stages. Until we get there, though, enjoy our Architecture Alphabet
“B” Stands for Bonus
It was forecast, there would be bonus words…and this week’s feature of the Kell House Architecture Alphabet brings extra bounty. The second letter in our alphabet also stands for “Bracket.”
A bracket is a projecting support element under eaves, windows, shelves, among other elements, even under stairs. It may be structural but is often more decorative than functional, as in our case. While especially wooden brackets under eaves are often mistaken for rafters (more on those later on), a closer look reveals their true nature!
Pictured is the dead give-away for the easy mistake often made when calling brackets ‘rafters’… a rafter is a support element that runs from the ridge of the roof to the wall plate or beyond, designed to carry the weight of the roof.
If you look closely here, you can see that our brackets are just on the outside of the architrave (aren’t you glad that you know now what that is?), and don’t continue on the right side of the picture, or on the backside of it. They are there to look pretty, not to actually help carry the roof.
Below is a closer look at our eave brackets. Notice their ‘S’ curves and regular installation intervals. These embellishments are influenced by Italianate architecture, which was prevalent in the United States between 1840-1885, featuring wide overhanging eaves and highly decorative brackets.
We don’t deny that ours are lovely but do admire the detailed work of the ones from that period.
Bravo for Council!
See what we did there? One of the more exciting events from this week was the City Council of Wichita Falls meeting on Tuesday. As with all things 2020, the bidding process for the Kell House project slowed to a crawl, which pushed the non-profit right into “danger” territory with the previously awarded 4B Tax Corporation grant. To receive the $100,000, an extension (or reinstatement) of the funds was necessary. After applying, the extension was granted by the board but then required City Council approval as well. While (l. to r. Wichita County Heritage Society President Katie Britt, WCHS Executive Director Delores Culley, and Kell House Site Director Nadine McKown) would have all voted for the pertinent agenda item to be a little closer to the beginning of the meeting, they toughed it out and are happy to report that the funding was re-approved. Thank you, City of Wichita Falls, and thank you, 4B Board for seeing the value in supporting the repository of Wichita Falls history that is the Kell House Museum.
Pack Yer Coffers
The third letter of the Kell House Architecture Alphabet brings in a charming “Coffered Ceiling.” This type of detail may also be called “Coffering” and is a ceiling with deeply recessed panels which are often highly ornamented. One of the squares seen in our ceiling in the Receiving Hall is considered a “Coffer.” It is thought that these types of ceilings were originally created by crossing load-bearing beams in order to reduce the weight of a stone ceiling. This technique goes back to ancient times, the Roman Pantheon is one well-known structure with this feature.
It made a resurgence in architecture during the Renaissance and was widely seen in Baroque and Neoclassical art and architecture. The Kell House has several neoclassical elements, and this is one of them. Architects like to remind us to take a step back when entering a building and not be so focused on what event lies beyond the door, but to ‘look up’ and appreciate the details of the building itself.
So, the next time you enter somewhere….look up! Maybe you will be treated to a wonderfully detailed Coffered Ceiling like ours! The picture on the right remains one of our favorites, cool ceilings don’t always get the attention they deserve.
Just In Case
Some letters of our Kell House Architecture Alphabet were easier to satisfy than others, and it wasn’t always the most obvious ‘harder to match’ letters that gave us fits. Since we are still early in the alphabet, we thought we’d introduce another candidate for “C”!
Most architecture aficionados know that older buildings in hotter climates have a lot of windows. So does the Kell House. Did you know that before glass became more readily available, windows, or “wind-holes,” as they were installed largely for ventilation or providing a draft for internal fires, were often covered with oiled animal skins, cloth, or paper? This was true even for Colonial America.
As we have touched on with the “Awning Window” from our powder room, there are several different types of this handy invention. The Kell House is also home to a few “Casement” windows. Casement windows are those that hinge on the side, allowing the window to swing either in or outward from the left or right side. They often have casement or peg stays that ensure the window stays open at a predetermined angle.
The casement window graces the back porch. This porch is screened in and the window swings inward. Here, there is no casement or peg stay.