A Whole-House Exhibit at the Trail End State Historic Site
March 2003 - December 2006
Trail End blueprints (Trail End Archival Collection)
State Historic Site
IN SEPTEMBER 1908, the following announcement appeared in the pages of The Sheridan Post: "John B. Kendrick has accepted the plans for his magnificent new home on Nielson Heights. Teams are now excavating for the foundation, and while the work will take several months, it will be pushed as rapidly as possible."
Unfortunately, "as rapidly as possible" proved to be not very rapid at all. Because of design differences, construction difficulties, low cattle prices, and labor disputes, it would take nearly five years before the Kendrick family – John, his wife Eula and their children, Rosa-Maye and Manville – would be able to move into their new home.
Although Trail End took five years to build, work was not in progress that entire time. The first major work stoppage came in 1909 when a delay in the delivery of foundation granite caused John Kendrick to advise architect Glenn McAlister, "Unless [the granite] reaches us … every man on the building will be paid off and the work entirely stopped."
In 1910, work was halted for nearly two years when a drought caused such serious reversals in the cattle market that Kendrick had no extra cash to spend: "I feel it is best to bend all my energies and employ all the available funds at my command in protecting the business on which I depend rather than assuming further obligations."
Construction resumed in the spring of 1912 and hopes ran high that the family would soon be able to move into their new home. Unfortunately, 1912 brought even more problems. Along with a misplaced rail car full of woodwork (later located on a siding in Nunica, Michigan), Trail End’s principal contractor was plagued by labor disputes. As noted by Charles Lindner, president of Lindner Interior Manufacturing, "We [are] having trouble with our Finishers, in fact, with the entire factory force during the past two or three weeks, which of course has delayed all work." Nevertheless, Lindner remained optimistic:
We note what you say about the completion of your home so that you might be settled by the first of April, and wish to state, that so far as we can see at the present time, and unless something unforeseen happens, there should be no reason why this should not be accomplished.
Of course, the unforeseen happened: a fire at the main warehouse of electrical contractor Burgess-Granden led to a delay in installing the last of the light fixtures!
AT HOME ... AT LAST!
On July 25, 1913 – three days before Rosa-Maye Kendrick’s sixteenth birthday – she and her family finally moved into Trail End. The first party was given on July 28, in honor of both Rosa-Maye’s birthday and the opening of the long-awaited Kendrick home. A series of teas and open houses followed during which friends and family were invited to see what five years of hard work had created. Not everyone could make a personal visit, however, so Eula Kendrick hired the Fuller Studio to take a series of room portraits. These were sent to vendors such as E. A. Wallace of Berkey & Gay, who received his set of black and white photographs in 1914. He quickly responded with his thanks, saying, "I was very much pleased to receive such a nice selection of photographs of your beautiful home. I have taken pleasure in showing them to all of our people and am going to have them framed."
Mr. Wallace also noted that, after such a long time, it might seem a little odd to live without the constant confusion of over-attentive vendors, under-attentive workmen, delayed shipments and other assorted problems: "It must seem strange indeed to think [all] is so nearly complete and that you are so soon to be through with the many annoyances you have had for so many years. Well, I trust you will enjoy it for you certainly deserve it."
Though the annoyances continued for awhile – the furnace wasn’t operating correctly and the landscaping wasn’t finished – at least the family was home!
Trail End during construction, 1909 (Murff Collection, TESHS)