State Historic Site
McAlister Letterhead (Construction Documents, TESHS)
LOCAL CONTRACTOR NELS A. Pearson was in charge of the work force at Trail End – utilizing both local workers and imported craftsmen – but the Kendricks acted as their own general contractors. This allowed them to take direct advantage of discounted wholesale prices usually offered only to contractors.
In addition to actual laborers, John and Eula employed designers and consultants from all over the United States to help them put together the home they envisioned. Two of the most influential of these consultants were the architect and the interior designer.
Although they were both raised in the American Midwest, these two men were from vastly different professional backgrounds. As a result, their frequent conflicts provided more drama than the Kendricks had planned on when they set out to build their luxurious new home.
GLENN CHARLES McALISTER
Born in Missouri in 1873, Glenn Charles McAlister was one of six children of a successful Missouri building contractor, James McAlister, and his wife, Ruth Lovitt. McAlister lived his early life in the Midwest, moving to Illinois at a young age (his mother died when he was only two years old). He graduated from public school and went on to complete a two-year course in teacher training.
At age twenty-one McAlister left formal school for good and by 1896 had migrated to Butte, Montana, where he became engaged in architectural work. He was later identified as an engineer for the Boston-Montana Mining Company. By 1900 he was studying heating and ventilating on his own.
McAlister moved to Billings, Montana, in 1901 and worked as an architect there until 1903. He then opened a branch office in Sheridan so he could be on hand during the construction of the Sheridan County Courthouse, a building of his own design. He opened the branch office again in 1908 when he came to work on Trail End. In addition to that project, he also designed at least two others in Sheridan: "Mount View" (a large private home) and the Golden Rule store at 234-250 North Main.
In addition to his work as an architect, McAlister also ventured forth as a ranchman, owning and operating a 640-acre homestead in Custer County, Montana. In 1905, he married twenty-four year old Beatrix Powers, daughter of Sheridan county rancher Thomas A. Powers. The couple had two children, Virginia and Raymond.
After Trail End was completed in 1913, the quality of McAlister's life seemed to improve. He resumed his professional activities in Billings where, from offices in the Hart-Albin Building, he designed several impressive private homes and the South Side Fire Station (which joins Trail End, Mount View and the Sheridan County Courthouse on the National Register of Historic Places). In 1921, he was praised as "gifted ... one of the leading architects of Billings."
The McAlister family moved to southern California in the early 1920s, where he continued his work as an architect (when he died, his obituary said he had been a registered architect in the state for forty years). He designed a number of commercial buildings in Los Angeles and several private homes in Beverly Hills. He died at his Beverly Hills home in 1961.
D. EVERETT WAID
Daniel Everett Waid was born in Gouverneur, New York, in 1864, but at the age of fourteen, his family moved to Monmouth, Illinois. After graduation from high school, Waid studied architecture at Monmouth College. He later attended classes at the Chicago Art Institute and then graduated from Columbia University's School of Architecture in New York. After six years of working as a draftsman in Chicago, he opened his own practice in 1894. Four years later, he relocated to New York City.
Waid worked on several impressive projects, including the Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, the Wellington Building in Ottawa, Canada, the Silver Cross Hospital in Joliet, Illinois, and - the pinnacle of his career - the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company's flagship building on Madison Avenue. Originally planned to be the tallest building in the world (one hundred stories), it was reduced to twenty-nine stories in 1933, primarily because of the Depression. He was also a consulting architect for the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center.
Waid was elected to membership in the American Institute of Architects in 1901. During his thirty-two year association with the professional organization, he served in a number of official capacities: treasurer, executive committee member, and president (1924-1926). He was also an honorary member of the Royal Institute of British Architects.
In 1892, Waid married Eva Clark (1869-1929), who became an influential soldier in the reform army of the Presbyterian Church. In 1934, Waid married again, this time to Phyllis Isobel Fellowes (1887-1963), the twice-divorced Australian-born daughter of Major Peregrine Henry Thomas Fellowes, Chief Constable of Hampshire, England.
Waid died in 1939 at his summer home in Greenwich, Connecticut. He was buried alongside his first wife at their old home in Monmouth, Illinois. With no children to inherit, he left his estate to the American Institute of Architecture.
DOUBTS, DELAYS & DUELS
John and Eula Kendrick were well aware of the fact that they did not know everything it took to put together a spectacular house. In 1911, they enlisted the aid of D. Everett Waid to finalize the decorating plans and provide guidance on the overall look of the house. In his desire to lead the Kendricks toward the tasteful, Waid was not shy about voicing his concerns:
Regarding the fireplaces, I would say that to my taste, both for aesthetic and practical reasons, onyx would be very objectionable. A very quiet, dignified and yet rich effect can be obtained appropriate to the style of the interior design by a proper selection of either tile or marble.
The Kendricks usually followed Waid's suggestions (they chose a dignified Italian marble for the fireplaces), but they were not always sure they wanted to. In 1911, Eula wrote to Waid about his suggestions for the living room:
If I am not mistaken, you suggested panelling [sic] that room also when we were talking it over together. I did not think then that Mr. Kendrick would care for it, but he seems to think he would like it better since going over these drawings, but we have decided to leave it to your good taste, and if you think it will work out nicely in wood you may make working drawings without submitting scheme to us.
In the end, the living room was not paneled; instead, it was finished with silk brocade wallcoverings and mahogany trim. Many of Waid's other suggestions were implemented, however, and he soon became the "lead worker" on the project.
In frequent letters to the Kendricks, Waid was openly scornful of the home's other architect, Glenn McAlister - possibly because of the latter's lack of formal training. Waid was the head of a committee formed by the American Institute of Architects charged with the task of examining and registering applicants with an aim towards improving professional standards for those wanting to call themselves an architect, and he apparently felt that McAlister was not operating up to those standards.
Waid disagreed with McAlister on how the house should be designed and eventually, to avoid continual spats between the two, the Kendricks left McAlister entirely out of the interior design process, allowing him to deal with problems on the exterior instead.
Even though Kendrick now had two architects working for him, the men were not always available. Waid was located on the East Coast, and McAlister was rarely in Sheridan (despite the presence of his branch office). As Kendrick told manufacturer Charles Lindner,
I will say that I have had no end of trouble in trying to worry through this work under the direction of McAlister, and since we have arranged for the assistance of the New York man, he is so far away that I do not get very much better results from him. At the present time McAlister is out on a ranch some place.
The Trail End project was apparently a very difficult one for McAlister. In late 1912, by which time the mansion had already been under construction for over four years, McAlister wrote to Eula Kendrick,
My work for the past year has been very unfortunate in many respects due to the abandonment of work [at Trail End] and an unfortunate alliance I made with other parties. ... Being unable to pay expenses I was compelled to lose my home.
The "abandonment of work" McAlister speaks of refers to the previous eighteen months in which low cattle prices prompted John Kendrick to suspend building activities until a time when he could better afford it.
Despite all the difficulties, John Kendrick was sufficiently pleased with McAlister's endeavors to write a letter of reference to the Wyoming Secretary of State, in which he conveyed McAlister's desire to work on an upcoming State project:
I am writing you in behalf of an architect, a friend of mine, Mr. G. McAllister [sic], one of the best architects with whom I am acquainted. ... In his work Mr. McAllister combines in a high degree the artistic with the practical, and if given an opportunity to submit plans and sketches on the State work at Worland, I am confident he will be able to demonstrate his ability and merit. Any consideration or courtesy that you are able to show [him] will be accepted as a personal favor.