State Historic Site
(Trail End Collection)
Laundry Room (Prout)
A Whole-House Exhibit at the Trail End State Historic Site
April 2013 - December 2013
The Basement is where much of the day-to-day work at Trail End was carried out. In addition to the extensive laundry facilities, it also contains the furnace room and coal bin.
Before they moved into Trail End, the Kendricks spent most of their time at the OW Ranch. With no electricity, no running water, no telephones and no automobiles, daily life was considerably different there than in town. Let us consider just one area: laundry. At the ranch, the laundry was washed in a large copper tub full of water heated atop the wood-burning kitchen stove. It was scrubbed and rinsed by hand, then hung up outside to dry. Ironing also took place at the stove, as the heavy irons had to be heated on the burners. It was hot, backbreaking work that turned even the most refined woman into a household drudge.
At Trail End, the technologies of electricity and running water drastically changed laundry day. While the Laundry Room might be considered a bit primitive by today’s standards, it was actually quite modern for its time. Electricity both lit up the space and heated the irons. A large water heater provided enough hot steaming water to fill up the triple porcelain sinks time after time. Plus there was room for sorting, spot-cleaning, soaking, starching, and folding heaps of clothing and household linens. (By the way, Eula Kendrick rarely did her own laundry; she usually hired a laundress who came in once a week to take care of the washing.)
Trail End’s Laundry Room is much larger than those found in newer houses. In fact, it is the same size as the Dining Room located directly above it. The extra room was needed because laundry used to be a much more "hands-on" chore than it is today. The large machine in the corner under the window is called a "mangle." Operated by electricity, it used steam and hot rollers to iron the wrinkles out of flat linens such as tablecloths, sheets and pillowcases. It took a lot of skill to operate a mangle, a task that could be very dangerous for the untrained.
The Laundry Room also houses the motor for the stationary vacuum system, a small walk-in vault (currently used for storage) and access to the Elevator Control Room (if you hear loud mechanical noises, they are coming from the elevator machinery