Kell House Architecture Alphabet – F & G

By Nadine McKown

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.

Challenge Issued!

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:

F for Trivia?


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

September, 2021Hull-Millwork-Window-Workshop
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

Reservations Required

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!


Limited spots available, so sign up now!
9 a.m. – 12 p.m.Kell House Museum
900 Bluff Street

Who Dis?


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.

Dress up!


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 – See you soon!