Survey and Research
Report On The
Wing Haven Gardens and
September 15, 2007
- Name and Location of Property:
The property known as Wing Haven Gardens and
Bird Sanctuary is located at 248 Ridgewood Avenue, Charlotte, N.C. 28209.
address, telephone number of current owner: The owner of the
property is the:
Wing Haven Foundation, Inc.
248 Ridgewood Avenue
Charlotte, NC 28209
704 – 331-0664
Representative photographs of the property:
This report contains representative
photographs of the property.
- A Map depicting the location of
This report contains two maps depicting the
location and layout of the property. The UTM coordinates for the property
are: 17 514561E 3892665N.
Deed Book of Reference:
The most recent deed to this property is
listed in the Mecklenburg County Deed Books #05383 p 169. The Tax Parcel
Number of the Property: 151-142-19, 151-142-40 and 151-142-41.
- Brief Historical Sketch of
This report contains a brief historical sketch
of the property prepared by Diane C. Althouse, edited by Stewart Gray
and Dan L. Morrill.
- Brief Architectural description:
This report contains an architectural
description of the property prepared by Diane C. Althouse, edited by
Stewart Gray and Dan L. Morrill.
- Documentation of how and in what
ways this property meets historical preservation criteria set forth in
N.C. G. S 160A-400-5:
significance in terms of its history, architecture, and/or cultural
importance: The Commission judges that the
property known as the Wing Haven Gardens and Bird Sanctuary does possess
special significance in terms of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The Commission
bases its judgment on the following considerations:
Wing Haven is exceptional in terms of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, containing a well preserved upper-middle class home
and, more especially, surrounded by over
two acres of early-twentieth-century formal gardens that are predominately
unchanged from the original design as conceived by the owners Edwin and
Elizabeth Clarkson. The historic integrity of the plantings and design
of the double cross pattern gardens have been exquisitely maintained.
2. Wing Haven
has evolved into a private urban bird sanctuary, with the founding of
the Mecklenburg Audubon Club occurring on the property in 1940. Public tours
of the garden and bird sanctuary began in the 1950s. Wing Haven
Gardens and Bird Sanctuary officially opened to the public in 1975, and is
now run by The Wing Haven Foundation, Inc.
3. Wing Haven
is significant for its association with Elizabeth Clarkson who wrote
Birds of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, NC, as well as local and
national articles on birds.
Clarkson home is an excellent example of a 1927 Colonial Revival style house in
what was initially called the Poplar Gables neighborhood, now considered a part of Myers Park.
design, setting, workmanship, materials, filings, and or associations:
contends that the physical and architectural description by Diane C.
Althouse, edited by Stewart Gray and Dan L. Morrill, which is included in this report demonstrates that
the Wing Haven
Gardens and Bird Sanctuary meets this criterion.
Ad Valorem Tax Appraisal: This property is
owned by a not-for-profit entity and therefore does not pay taxes.
The current appraised value of the 2.97 acres of land is $350,000.
The total current appraised value of the entire property is $456,400.
Portion of the Property
Recommend for Designation: This report recommends that the
house at 248 Ridgewood Avenue, and 2.97 acres of land around the
house, including all features of the landscape, be designated as a local
map shows the area of Wing Haven recommended for local landmark designation.
Hatch-marked areas are not included in the recommendation.
Prepared by Diane C. Althouse
2610 Peary Court
Charlotte, NC 28211
Summary Statement of Significance
Wing Haven Gardens and
Bird Sanctuary has been a cultural resource and source of inspiration for
Charlotteans as well as visitors from elsewhere for over 80
years. Eddie and Elizabeth Clarkson created a distinct and beautiful
garden and bird sanctuary on the edges of upper-class suburban Myers Park.
There is nothing else that closely resembles Wing Haven in Charlotte or
in any of the surrounding towns. Wing Haven was conceived and built as
a privately supported endeavor. The house also has special significance, because it
has a very
high degree of interior and exterior integrity and also serves as the
centerpiece of the garden. Wing Haven, the house
and gardens, convey how the Clarksons lived, how they entertained, and
what their priorities were – namely the garden and the birds.
Figure 1 – Tax Map of Wing Haven Gardens and Bird Sanctuary,
2006. The original house lot is parcel #15114219.
Mary Norton Kratt tells the story of
Elizabeth and Edwin O. Clarkson and their garden in her book, A Bird in
the House: The Story of Wing Haven Gardens. The Wing Haven
story begins as follows:
Elizabeth Barnhill told Eddie Clarkson on their first date in
Boston, where he was working and where she was attending the New England
Conservatory of Music, how she and her mother had raised white-winged doves.
After five years of courtship in seven states and one foreign country, Eddie
and Elizabeth became engaged. Eddie’s father urged, "Don’t let that pretty,
little auburn-haired girl get away." Eddie proposed and drove his Essex auto
to Uvalde, Texas in 1925 to give her an engagement ring.
The Clarksons, even before they married, decided to move to Charlotte and
build a home. “She said she needed two weeks to draw up the plans.”
Eddie Clarkson was a salesman in Charlotte, North Carolina, working for the
Wesley T. Heath Corporation, which sold land and built homes. In the
fall of 1926 Eddie bought a 75’ by 225’ deep lot from Wesley Heath in the
Poplar Gables neighborhood, with the idea that he would pay for the house
over 10 years.
Elizabeth mailed Eddie her own design
for the home she envisioned. During the fall before their marriage,
Eddie received many letters from Elizabeth which contained
sketches and building instructions. It would be a simple two-story
frame house with large windowed rooms which drew the outdoors in. It would
have a linear, wide-windowed kitchen where a servant could efficiently
prepare meals and carry them to serve in the garden. Elizabeth planned a
raised brick terrace off the double glass-doored living room to which her piano
could be moved for entertaining at candlelit garden parties. And
when they had children, they would add rooms in flanking wings which would
balance the vertical house.
The Clarksons exchanged letters almost
daily prior to their marriage.
In a letter dated Wednesday, December 1926, she wrote:
…And Oh, I’m so happy that we’ll be able to finish both bath
rooms. You are perfectly wonderful, Eddie. I had no idea you
could manage it right now. I thought perhaps we’d put it in in a few
years but Darling, I’m just thrilled to death that we can though, Eddie.
I’ve thought of a way to place our fountain that I like even
better than our original plan. If you don’t like it though, Dearest,
you just say where you want it placed. My idea is to place it in the center
like this with half of it on the porch and half off of it. Do you see
what I mean? (See Fig 7).
The bottom of the fountain could be below the porch level and
the sides could rise above the porch level about a foot. Then we’d plant
evergreens etc as a background for the fountain. Don’t you think this
is a lovely idea? This would give us so much porch room. If the
fountain is four feet in diameter, 2 ft. of it would be on the porch or
terrace and 2 ft. in the yard. Is my plan clear enough Dearest?
And what do you think of it? …
Good night, my own Beloved and all my love to you,
Eddie executed her wishes exactly.
The house has many features specified by
Elizabeth. These include the picture windows, the terrace fountain, the
sewing room, the numerous built-ins for storage, the use of wall mirrors in
every room but the kitchen and the bird feeders attached to the second floor
windows and the dining room windows. She also envisioned formal gardens
surrounding the house. Her designs brought the outside in, even
including some of her pet birds, like Tommy the Bluebird who lived
completely inside the house for about one year.
In terms of design, the most striking
thing about the North East side of the house is the built-in bird feeder on
the second floor just outside of Elizabeth’s bedroom window.
(Elizabeth was often ill in the early years of her marriage due to
contracting undulant fever from unpasturized milk. She would spend
days in bed, but because of her custom configuration of the windows she was
able to see her garden and interact with the birds.) As previously
mentioned, Elizabeth sent plans to Eddie prior to the construction of the
house. Her goal was to bring as much light into the house as possible.
She was also focused on having an almost 360 degree view of the garden from
within the house.
The west elevation shows even more of
Elizabeth’s design ideas. There are three large picture windows on the
first and second floors of the West (back) of the house. These were
not original to the house, but added at a later date. The Picture
windows replaced the original double six over one window on the second floor
looking out of Elizabeth bedroom, and out of the Guest Bedroom on the right
side of the second floor. The original double French doors off the
living room were replaced with one large door with a single pane of glass.
On the first floor, just off the living room, a small patio is accessed
through a large glass (picture window like) door. This door was
designed so that the Clarksons could roll the grand piano onto the terrace
for outdoor concerts. On the second floor, there is a bird feeder
attached to the center hall window that allows for the birds to enter and
exit the house via a small opening built into the window frame.
1927 the house was finished. It was located in Poplar Gables, a new
neighborhood adjoining the well established Myers Park neighborhood.
In contrast to Myers Park’s curvilinear roads, Poplar Gables featured a
standard grid pattern of streets. The Clarksons’ lot in Poplar Gables
at 218 Ridgewood Avenue was a flat rectangle featuring a simple box-like
house set close to the street. There was hardly another house in sight when
Elizabeth and Eddie arrived at the Charlotte train depot after their
honeymoon in the spring of 1927. Elizabeth insisted on going immediately to
the house and lot she had seen only in her imagination. Eddie slowed
the car and stopped in front. Elizabeth gasped. The house stood stark
and solitary in a field of hard, red mud with nothing green except a few
waist-high pine seedlings. Eddie led her around back to the single
tree, a spindly willow oak. Since Eddie did not have the door key to
the house, they climbed in a window. He led her into the living room where
his wedding present waited, a mahogany Steinway baby grand piano.
The next day Elizabeth started her garden.”
In a 1988
taped interview between Wanny Hogewood, (a former Curator of Wing Haven) and
Eddie Clarkson, Eddie describes how he bought and traded for the land that
is now Wing Haven. Even before the purchase of the original lot
Elizabeth Clarkson envisioned a multiple acre formal garden to surround
their first house. Because they were one of the first residents of
this part of Charlotte, Eddie Clarkson was able to procure the surrounding,
undeveloped, lots in their first years of residency on Ridgewood Avenue.
In the taped interview, Eddie chronicles for us the purchase price and
creative barter sequence of his nine (9) extra lots. (Eddie’s comments
have been summarized or paraphrased, except where noted, for simplicity and
clarity by Diane Althouse).
Lot 1 – The
Original Lot and House
– Eddie bought the house from Wesley Heath – his business partner. The
lot was 75’ by 225’ deep. He said he would pay for the house over 10
years. (We do not know the purchase price). By April 1927,
the house was complete.
Lot 2 –
The Oval Pool Lot
additional lot was purchased from Home Realty Management Company. It
is where the Oval Pool now sits. The asking price was $3,000 – but he
(Eddie) made them an offer that included the following: he would
assume the $1,000 mortgage that Home Realty Management had on the lot, and
he would “swap” them five 50 foot lots in Belmont, N.C. He also took out a
note for $400.
Lot 3 – The
Carson of Carson Realty owned the lot. Eddie built houses for him.
He wanted a $1000 for the lot. Eddie gave him $550 in cash and a note
for $1,000, plus a credit of $800 on the next house Eddie built for Carson
Lot 4 –
Greenhouse (Nursery) Lot
this lot from Lewis Radcliff. Eddie said, “Lewis really wanted to sell
the lot. At first he asked for $2950, but since he wanted to sell
quickly he sold it to me (Eddie) for $2200, which I paid him in $100
increments for 22 months”.
Figure 7 - Wing Haven Lots, Order of purchase between 1926
and 1937, with the exception of Lot 10 which was purchased in 1956 and now
houses The Wing Haven Foundation Offices and Lot 11 which was purchased in
the early 1990’s by The Wing Haven Foundation. Source: 1988 Eddie
Clarkson tape recorded interview and The Wing Haven Foundation.
Lot 5 –
Company owned this lot. It was one acre – 100 feet by 400 feet.
At first the Stevens Company Manger, D.C. Griffith said he would not sell
Eddie the lots; nor would he name a price. But Eddie knew Bill
Williams’s father who owned 90% of the stock in the Stevens Company. He
invited Bill Williams over – they walked the woods. Mr. Williams said
– “Eddie this would make a great addition to your property.” Mr.
Williams liked the idea of “the Clarksons planning a bird sanctuary.”
Eddie agreed. Mr. Williams called D. C. Griffith and told him to have the
property surveyed and to transfer title to Eddie. He even paid the surveyor
fee of $250. He “gave” Eddie the property for only $500. Eddie
said, “Mr. Williams wanted me (Eddie) to have it and practically gave it to
me. Mr. Williams was a wealthy man of fine character.”
The 1929 Sanborn Map shows that The
Clarksons owned Lots 1 through 5 by 1929.
At this point all of these lots were combined and renumbered, along with the
rest of Ridgewood Avenue. The house number changed from 218 Ridgewood
Avenue to 248 Ridgewood Avenue.
Lot 6 to 9
- Sterling Road Partial Lots
Lots 6 to 9
are made up of the back of four (4) lots on Sterling Road. The rear
portion of the four lots was a total of 225 x 50 feet. Eddie bought
them all for $1,500 a lot.
Eddie said that,
“Today it (Wing Haven) is a total of 3.5 acres. By 1937 I had bought
all of the lots”. (According to a recent survey, the entire property
is actually 2.97 acres, but Eddie always said it was between 3.5 to 4.0
acres). It is difficult to say exactly how much Eddie Clarkson spent
on the extra lots due to some barter arrangements of other properties he
owned, but at the very least he spent an additional $12,250 for the extra 8
Lot 10 – 260 Ridgewood Lot
originally owned the lot. Eddie, who worked for Heath, built the house
in 1926. The house was then sold to the Gintners, who then occupied the
house for 30 years. The Gintners wanted The Clarksons to have the
property and in 1956 Eddie arranged to swap a 10 room brick duplex with the
Gintners in exchange for the house and lot. The Clarksons used the
house as a rental property for many years. The house now serves as
offices for the Wing Haven Foundation.
Lot 11 – Behind
the Compost Area
In the early 1990’s, The Wing Haven Foundation, Inc., purchased additional
land behind the compost area for use as a buffer from the neighborhood.
The Gardens and Bird Sanctuary
The majority of the garden and plantings
are based on the original designs of Elizabeth Clarkson. Hardscape and
statuary have been repaired or replicated when necessary. The nearly
80 year old garden is remarkably intact, despite its age, urban setting, and
the devastating impact of Hurricane Hugo in 1989. The Wing Haven garden
design is a cross of Lorraine laid on its side (++) with the house settled
into the lower middle space formed by the cross. Because of the layout
of the paths there are multiple vantage points where one can see the entire
expanse of the many garden rooms. These cross paths offer new views
and surprising glimpses of colorful flowers and trees as well as an
interesting walking tour of the garden.
Figure 6 – Garden Layout. Numbers refer to the
Clarkson’s preferred walking tour of the garden. Map courtesy of The
Wing Haven Foundation, Inc. See the enclosed Wing Haven brochure for a
larger version of the map.
Eddie was the behind-the-scenes support
and financial benefactor for all of Elizabeth’s efforts regarding the house,
gardens and birds. He was instrumental in the creative piecing
together of what we now think of as Wing Haven. As a team they created
and built Wing Haven over their 60 years of marriage. Eddie and
Elizabeth had a habit of gift exchanges for birthdays and
anniversaries – always a gift for the garden: 1,000 bricks, mortar,
bone meal, manure, or a brick mason’s service for thirty feet of wall.
In this way they built the outer brick wall one section at a time, then
saved toward the next span. Between 1937 and 1942 the outer wall
slowly crept around the entire property line of the large, visionary garden.
They slowly and persistently added parcels of land. Some paths led
straight to the adjacent land they did not own. Slowly it became
theirs, and the more than two-acre city garden took form.
“When Mrs. Clarkson came to Charlotte in
1927 a garden with hedges and borders and trees was her all-consuming
desire—the birds were just a lovely part of the garden’s background.
During a lengthy illness that forced her to spend many days in bed or,
weather permitting, on a cot in the garden, she became passionate about the
birds. In an article published in Audubon in 1945 she wrote,
“Up to that time all plants and shrubs and trees had been selected for their
contribution to the garden picture, but from that moment when I suddenly
became interested in birds, each addition was weighed also from the ‘bird’s
point of view,’ and bird baths, feeding stations, suet baskets, and
hummingbird feeders became garden necessities.”
Upon completion of the layout of the
gardens, the Clarksons’ home has been a part of Charlotte’s history since
the 1940’s. In 1944, Elizabeth Clarkson wrote and published Birds
of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. (Reprinted in
1965, 1977, and 1986). The book chronicled birds seen in the area and
also gave basic information for learning about birds and specifically how to
attract and protect them. Not surprisingly, the Clarksons hosted the
founding meeting of the Mecklenburg Audubon Club in 1940.
In addition, Wing Haven has been part of the Mint Museum House and Garden
Tour (with a few exceptions) since the Garden Tour’s inception in 1952.
School children in Charlotte have been able to visit Wing Haven since the
1950’s. By 1955, so many people were dropping in on the Clarksons to
see the gardens and the birds that the Clarksons “reluctantly posted public
hours on the gate. Open Monday through Wednesday afternoons 3-5.
Yet, the Clarksons rarely refused anyone who wanted to see the garden.”
With the formation of The Wing Haven
Foundation, Inc., Wing Haven has been officially open to the public since
Elizabeth Clarkson was a noted public
figure in Charlotte. She taught scores of Charlotte’s school children
and amateur gardeners about her twin passions of ornithology and gardening
for many decades. She sponsored ornithology contests, wrote articles
for the Charlotte Observer and designed other gardens and houses in the
Charlotte area, including the garden at St. Peter’s Church in downtown
Charlotte. Her expertise and civic mindedness resulted in many state
and local awards including recognition form the North Carolina Audubon
Society and an Honorary Doctorate from Queens College, now know as Queens
University. Queens University classes have used the garden plants and
wildlife as an extended observatory for many years.
Many writers visited Wing Haven to write
articles about the Clarksons and the gardens. Elizabeth Lawrence, who
was Clarksons’ long time Ridgewood Avenue neighbor and visitor, became a
widely acclaimed Southern garden writer and designer of her own garden on
Ridgewood Avenue. The Lawrence house and garden at 348 Ridgewood
Avenue has recently been listed in the National Register of Historic Places
and declared a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmark. In 1961, author Lawrence described Wing Haven’s familiar
terrain: “By night, the water-mirror reflects the stars, by day the
clouds, in winter the green branches of pine trees – in spring the pale
flower of the weeping cheery. All through the garden there are shallow
basins for birds, always with cool, fresh water dripping in and overflowing.
In the main garden a formal pool reflects in the winter the ivory trunk and
branches of a large crepe myrtle, in the summer masses of pink flowers.”
(Elizabeth’s favorite color was pink).
The Wing Haven
In 1970, the Clarksons donated their
garden to the Wing Haven Foundation, Inc. (The Foundation), which was formed
to preserve the gardens as a bird sanctuary and to provide education and
inspiration to what now includes more than 11,000 annual visitors from
Charlotte and beyond. The house was donated to the Foundation after the Clarksons’ deaths in the early 1990’s. Wing Haven has evolved from one
couple’s passion and vision into a unique local house and gardens with outdoor
classroom for groups of Charlotte school children, bird watchers, gardeners
By 1985, over 150 different species of birds had been identified at Wing
House and Garden Location Description
The house was built in a new
suburb then known as Poplar Gables. Today this area is known as Myers
Park. Yet there was obviously some confusion over what the area was
called during the 1920s and 1930s. In 1927, 1930 and 1931 Charlotte
City Directories, the Clarkson residence is listed as part of Poplar Gables.
But in 1928 and 1929 it was listed as being part of Myers Park.
Today the area is known as Myers Park. The original house number was
218 Ridgewood Avenue, but according to the 1929 Sanborn Map the entire
enlarged parcel was renumbered and became 248 Ridgewood Avenue.
House – Exterior
Wing Haven is a 1927, two story,
three-bay house with white wood clapboard siding in the Colonial Revival
Style. This style of house was particularly popular in the 1920’s
after World War I according to William Morgan, in The Abrams Guide to
American House Styles.
The house is a simple Colonial style
house. It is a center-stair, six-over-four-room house with some features
based on Elizabeth Clarkson’s vision. It has a side-gable roof with a
chimney on the east elevation of the house. The facade faces south.
The façade, in keeping with the Colonial
revival style, is symmetrical and has a central doorway. The door has
five pane sidelights and is topped with a semi-elliptical transom featuring
a sunburst fashioned in clear glass and lead. Four decorative pilasters
surround the doorway and make it the focal point of the front façade. The
front door is reached via a small four-step brick porch which appears to be
The front façade’s windows are laid out
in a balanced, symmetrical pattern. The windows are double hung, six
panes over one. On the second floor of the front facade, there are four
Windows. The two outer windows are identical in size and placement to
their first floor counterparts. There is a double window above the
front door that is smaller in overall size. Like the other windows, it
has shutters and is six panes over one pane of glass. Based on the
original photograph of the Clarkson’s home, the only change to the facade is
the color of the shutters; the shutters were originally black, but are now
Figure 8 - Wing Haven Front Facade. Photograph by Diane
Figure 9 - Front Façade Door. Photo Diane Althouse.
The second most notable feature of the
front façade is the dentil pattern running along the cornice. The cornice
molding is composed of triglyphs separated with shorter dentils. This dentil
pattern is used on both the front and rear cornices of the house. It
is also used on the small external hall passageway on the east facade of the
house, which was built after 1927.
Figure 10 - Dentil molding – used on the front façade, rear
elevation and side porch cornices. Photograph by Diane Althouse.
The east elevation, which faces the
driveway, has two sets of double windows on the second floor. A
chimney divides this elevation. To the left of the chimney is a small
entry hall porch that sticks out from the house. This small entry
porch is not original to the house, but the side entrance to the house is
original. There is a small pair of bathroom windows on either side of
the chimney on the second floor of the house. These louvered crank windows
are also original. The most striking thing about the east
elevation is the large built-in bird feeder on the second floor just outside
of the picture window in Elizabeth’s bedroom.
Figure SEQ Figure \* ARABIC 11 – Left side of East
Elevation. Photograph by Diane Althouse.
Figure 12 – Right side of East Elevation. Bird Feeder off
Elizabeth's second floor bedroom window.
Photograph by Diane Althouse.
The rear elevation shows even more of
Elizabeth’s design ideas. There are three large picture windows on
this elevation. Two are on the second floor and one is on the first
floor. These windows were not original to the house, but added at a
later date. These picture windows replaced the original double
six-over-one windows on the second floor looking out of Elizabeth’s bedroom
and the guest room. There is also a bird feeder attached to the second floor
center hall window that allows for the birds to enter and exit the house via
a small opening built into the window sill. The original double French
doors off the living room were replaced with one large door with a single
pane of glass. This door/window allows access from the living room to
the small patio originally designed by Elizabeth in a letter to Eddie.
Figure 13 - North Elevation. Photograph by Diane Althouse.
The west elevation overlooks the Oval
Pool. On the second floor of this elevation there are two six-over-one
windows in each of the bedrooms (Eddie’s and the Guest Room). There is also
one square louvered window in Eddie’s bathroom, similar, but larger than the
louvered windows in Elizabeth’s bathroom on the opposite side of the house.
On the first floor there are three side-by-side, six-over-one windows in the
dining room and one long rectangular window over the kitchen sink.
All of the windows on the west elevation, with the exception of the window
in the kitchen, are original to the house.
Figure 14. West Elevation. Photograph by Diane Althouse.
The Main House - Interior
The first floor of the house has four
large rooms, plus a very small powder room. The front door entrance
leads into the living room, which is the full length of the house, front to
back. The staircase to the second floor is directly across from the
front door. There is no center hallway. The space to the left of the
living room is the dining room. Behind the dining room is the kitchen.
The only other room on the first floor is the powder room, tucked behind the
stairs. The bathroom appears to have its original sink and toilet.
The room is only three feet by two and a half feet. The sink is tiny,
only 12 inches by 8 inches.
The living and dining room have their
original, identical, dentil crown moldings, window trim, doors, and
hardware. The staircase banister is walnut and said to have come from
Eddie Clarkson’s family home located on Clarkson Street near downtown
Unlike the banister, the white painted balusters are simple in design being
1” square, with no decorative ornamentation. The living room and
dining room can be separated by a pair of folding wood panel doors. In
addition, all of the doors in the house have their original hardware.
The living room features a white-grey marble fireplace mantel.
Both the dining room and the living
room’s plaster walls are painted white, and they have their original oak
hardwood floors. The windows have no curtains, but instead have
interior wood canopies over the windows, which are also painted white.
These wood canopies can be found in lieu of curtains in every room of the
house except the kitchen and bathrooms. The living room and dining
room are virtually intact; the couple’s family donated most of the furniture
in the house to The Wing Haven Foundation.
Mrs. Clarkson’s kitchen design ideas
were based on her visit to the Pullman Car Company. The kitchen walls
and cabinets are a dark bottle green (the same high-gloss dark green used in
Eddie’s bedroom, his bathroom and the guestroom on the second floor).
The kitchen floor was originally made of linoleum and had “Wing Haven”
imprinted on it. For practical reasons, The Foundation replaced the
floor with linoleum during a minor, but necessary 1994, remodeling. The
kitchen has a number of features which by today’s standards are common such
as pull out wastebaskets and long flat drawers for linens. Special
cabinets were built thought-out the house on the inside of doors; the
special cabinets have shelves and are kept closed with a simple hook and eye
catch. In a house of collectors like the Clarksons, every possible
inch was used for storage. The kitchen is divided by an island.
(Today this division has adapted nicely to the two occupants of the house
and grounds. The island separates the “people” side of the kitchen
from the “bird” side of the kitchen. Grub worms, mealy worms,
convalescing birds and animals have on many occasions occupied the “bird”
side of the kitchen). A large collection of original plates and glassware
are neatly organized in the special cabinets Elizabeth had built and/or
modified by a local carpenter. As her letters indicate, Elizabeth was
highly interested in the design and functionality of the kitchen, even
though she was personally not planning to spend much time in the kitchen
The second floor of the house has four
bedrooms, two bathrooms and a center hall. It is accessed from the living
room via the only staircase, located in the center of the house. The
second floor center hall has a window overlooking the main garden and built
in bookcases on two walls. It also has a bird feeder attached to the
window and a hole in the window molding that allows for birds to gain access
to the house and in particular Elizabeth’s bedroom.
The west side of the house has Eddie’s
bedroom and a guest bedroom. Eddie’s bedroom has three six-over-one
windows, two overlooking the Oval Pool and one overlooking the front yard.
The guest bedroom has two six-over-one windows overlooking the Oval Pool and
a large picture window overlooking the main garden. These rooms share
a bathroom. The original bathroom window is a large rectangular louvered
crank window. The rooms and original furniture are finished and painted in
a simple and similar manner. All of the rooms on Eddie’s side of the
house are painted with dark green enamel walls, trim and furniture and the
floors are painted white. His bathroom tile is the same dark bottle green.
On the east side of the house,
Elizabeth’s rooms - the sewing room, bathroom and bedroom – have white walls
and trim with the exception of parts of the rooms and ceilings that are
wallpapered with the original pink, grey and white wallpaper. All of
the furniture in the bedroom and sewing room are painted white. The
bathroom and sewing room have the same wallpaper on the ceilings and upper
walls. Like the guest bedroom, Elizabeth’s room has a large picture
window overlooking the main garden and two six-over-one windows that look
out over the driveway and the garden entrance gate leading to St. Theresa’s
Path. There is a large built in bird feeders outside of the east
facing window, next to her bed, in her room.
Figure 15 - This feeder is built-in outside of Elizabeth's
curtainless second floor bedroom window.
Feeding Tray or hopper offered sunflower seeds on one end and
mixed bird seeds on the other.
Note mirror between windows. Photograph by Diane
Like the first floor, these rooms are
virtually untouched since the Clarksons’ last lived in them. All of
the furniture is original to the house. The drawers and closets are
full of interesting personal items, clothes, letters, books, and even a
bird’s egg collection in a bureau in Eddie’s room. The hardwood floors
are painted white in the sewing room, and bedrooms, but are natural in the
hallway. Space was maximized in every room, hallway and closet via
custom built in shelves, drawers and hooks.
Mirrors and Storage
Bringing in the outside in was an
obvious goal of the Clarksons. To enhance the natural light and
reflective lighting in the house, there are multiple wall-mounted mirrors in
every single room. The Living Room has two large mirrors, the dining
room has four, Eddie’s bedroom has two large mirrors and Elizabeth’s bedroom
and sewing room has a number of large mirrors, plus mirrors on the window
valances. Even the upstairs hallway has wall mounted mirrors.
There is no overhead lighting in the house – so perhaps this was just a
practical way of making things brighter in the day while providing views of
the gardens and birds, and, of maximizing the eclectic light at night.
But the sheer number and location of these mirrors is practical, economical
In addition, all of the closets and
drawers are full of items owned and collected over the years by the
Clarksons. It is a virtual museum of their lives, from letters,
photographs, newspaper clippings, and clothing (a collection of her homemade
dresses can be found in her second floor sewing room). Lastly, the
ingenious way they stored everyday items was ahead of its time. Her
ideas for maximizing storage were thrifty, practical and inventive.
(See Figures 16-18).