Sunday, June 3, 2012

Washington-Ames House

WOW!!!  What can I say?  Over the past year or so, the girls and I have thoroughly enjoyed our visits to this antique house in Leoti.  Each time that we were there, we marveled at the additional improvements made since the last time we had been there.  This weekend was when the public was invited in to take a look around.  Tours were held on Friday and Satuday.  A great number of people took advantage of this opportunity.

When we took our tour, we had some amazing tour guides.  Karen Walk whose unbelievable vision and her decorating know-how have totally been instrumental in bringing this house back to life.  Her gifts are unbelievable.  I am shocked at all that she can do.  In addition to the many hours she spent at night figuring out what all she wanted to do there (instead of sleeping), she spent even more time designing and creating superb window coverings as would've been common in the upper society's homes at the time that this house would have been built.  She also went from one website to the next shopping for just the perfect wallpaper and border that would set the rooms off in style.  Karen wanted to add some original stained art glasswork to the house.  Though she had never done this particular form of art, she tackled it with her all and created beautiful pieces for the house.

In addition to Karen, the other ladies who were so knowledgeable about the house and that time period were Virginia Knobbe, Berniece Crouch, Jeanene French and Nicole Huber, Karen's granddaughter.  Each of these ladies added so very much to our tour and history lesson.  The tour would not have been the same without these people.  Many people from the Washington, Ames families and citizens, past and present, from Wichita County have either donated or loaned various furniture pieces, artwork, etc to the Wichita County Historical Society to be used in this beautiful house.  I learned also that not long ago, Karen was in attendance at an auction in Great Bend, Ks.  An antique picture frame caught her eye.  She decided to bid on it so that she could place it in the W-A House.  She made the purchase and bought it back to town.  Inside the frame was an old black and white picture of a man with a very long and bushy beard.  When Karen began some research on the man, she discovered that the man was a descendant of a family whom was very instrumental in the founding of Wichita County, Ks.  Call me crazy but I feel like some divine intervention was involved in Karen finding this and bringing it back here where, in my opinion, it belongs.

In case you have not heard, for the past couple of weeks, volunteers began scraping loose paint from the house in preparation for new paint.  Late last week, the coat of primer and the base coat of paint was put into place.  I would classify the base coat to be a medium rosy beige.  Soon, six more colors will find their ways to the exterior.  Before long, this once faded house will regain its glory as  a gorgeous painted lady.

Painting of the exterior is not the last of the work to be done.  The total renovation of the kitchen, which will be called Lorna's kitchen, in honor of Mr.and Mrs.Ames' daughter whom we just lost, the maid's quarters and a summer kitchen are next on the agenda.

Probably my two favorite rooms are the dining room and the master bedroom.  I always thought that they were special and beautiful when they were empty.  But now, since Berniece Crouch donated the antique dining room table, chairs, buffet and china closet that her late husband, Lloyd, had given to her, has given it to the house, the dining room has a much more elegant flavor. 

Upstairs in the bedroom, family members of Jeanene French have donated their heirloom bedroom furniture to the house.  These pieces and some smaller items that others have given, have really brought this room back to life.

If you have not already been through this beautiful place of history, don't forget to add it to your bucket list.  You'll be happy that you did...

For those of us out there who believe that spirits are amongst us, you might appreciate this bit of information.  Since the work has begun at the Washington-Ames House, a few mirrors have mysteriously been broken.  No one was anywhere around them at the time.  Maybe the generations of children who considered this house to be haunted, just might have known what they were talking about...

Thank you to the children of Mr. and Mrs. Ames who donated this house to the Wichita County Historical Society and to the many volunteers who have worked so diligently on this wonderful project!


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