Present Moments with some of your favorite historical authors
The Authors of Writes of Passage
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Enjoying History With Friends
I love visiting historical sites, but it’s even more fun when I have a friend along who enjoys it as much as I do. Last Saturday I met Carol Cox (who has a new book with Bethany House titled Love in Disguise that will release in June) in Emporia, Kansas.
Carol and her family were visiting relatives in Wichita and we decided Emporia would be a good halfway point for our meeting. Not wanting to simply drive to Emporia and have lunch, I decided we should invest a little time in some history and Carol concurred.
Now, I performed my due diligence, went to the internet and checked the times and hours of operation for the William Allen White home. Just hang on—if you don’t know who William Allen White is, you’ll soon find out. Anyway, I left home a bit early since you all know how I usually get lost, even while using OnStar, my own GPS, and printed Mapquest directions. You’ll be proud to hear that I didn’t get lost.
Due to my ability to follow directions on the way there, I actually arrived early. We won’t discuss the fact that I got lost on the way home. The picture at upper left is Red Rocks after renovations and below right is the original. At upper right Carol and I are standing in the dining room.
So back to the visit.
The internet as well as the sign hanging outside of Red Rocks (that’s the name of the William Allen White house) agreed that it was supposed to be open. However, it was CLOSED.
Using weensy bit of cell phone ability, I Googled to try and find a phone number to contact someone. Tammy will be proud to hear that I succeeded—she worked very hard to teach me how to text and use the internet on my phone. I think she believes I should still be using a hand crank telephone with an operator and the other end—and so do I! Anyway, after two calls, I reached a lovely lady named Sally who agreed that the house was, in fact, closed. However, she said she would be there to give a bus group a tour at one o’clock and if Carol and I would come back at one thirty, she’d give us a private tour.
Needless to say, I was delighted to tell Carol (when she finally arrived) that we could go and eat and then return for the tour. We enjoyed our meal at the Commercial Street Diner—Carol had lunch, I had breakfast—but I forgot to take a picture of my blackberry-peach muffin. It was delicious—but it was NOT gluten free.
After our brunch, we decided there was time for a visit to the Lyon County Museum, but that didn’t work out. They were closed to participate in a softball game. Still it still wasn’t time to return for our tour, I spied a shoe store and decided it might not be historical, but a nice pair of shoes would make my feet happy. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out, either. Couldn’t find a style in my size that I liked. So we left empty handed and headed off to learn about Red Rocks and William Allen White.
Here’s a bit of what our wonderful guide, Sally, told us: William Allen White was a celebrated newspaper editor, author, politician, and leader of the Progressive movement. Mr. White purchased the Emporia Gazette in 1895 and became the editor. The newspaper has remained in the White family ever since.
In 1947, three years after his death, he won a Pulitzer Prize for his autobiography. He was also the author of several other biographies and works of fiction as well as social and political commentaries. His portable typewriter is pictured at left.
In 1893, he married Sallie Lindsay. An only child whose father died at an early age, William’s mother was a major influence in his life and even accompanied William and Sallie on their honeymoon. Her home sits adjacent to Red Rocks where she lived until her death. A picture of her home is at the lower right--only a stone's throw from her son's front porch. The White family entertained several U.S. presidents-- Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover-- and prominent Americans, such as Edna Ferber, Frank Lloyd Wright, Walt Mason, and Jane Addams. At upper right you'll see a picture of Mr. White with Albert Einstein.
The home is made of bright sandstone from Colorado, which covers the first story. The top two stories of the house are red pressed brick, stucco, and wood strips. The red sandstone is believed to be from a quarry in Red Rock Canyon near the Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Thus the name Red Rocks)
In 1915 William Allen White wrote to architect Frank Lloyd Wright and suggested that he "do over" the house. Wright soon began to develop preliminary designs for the house. White and Wright continued their discussions of design until around November 1919, when White contacted the architectural firm of Wight & Wight in Kansas City. (Talk about confusing—you’ve got White, Wright, and Wight all involved in this renovation! I wonder how they could keep anything straight!)
The renovation began in March 1920 under close direction from William Allen and Sallie. The Wight design retained much from the Frank Lloyd Wright plans. The former Queen Anne was changed to a Tudor Revival. The house entrance was moved from Exchange Street to Tenth Avenue and features a one-story gabled porch. The house was enlarged from ten rooms to eleven with four full baths and two half baths. Dormers were added on the north and south sides of the third floor. Sleeping porches were enclosed, including in the area that became White's office. The terraced garden, pergola, and lily pool also were built during the renovation.
And who can give me some information about the fork and knife pictured at right? Our guide couldn't give us any information, so I'd love to hear from you if you have any information!
So there you have it—probably more than you ever wanted to know—but it was lots of fun and interesting facts for authors who love history.
May you find joy as you enjoy and explore the wonders of history. ~Judy