Who doesn’t love a front porch? A cheerful place to relax on the swing with a refreshing cold drink. Wave to the neighbors taking an evening stroll, greet the mailman, watch a child shakily ride down the sidewalk on a new bike. Who doesn’t love a porch? Me, many days. I have 19 of them here at the village to maintain, and doing so leaves me little time for swinging or sipping or waving. A porch is basically a room with no exterior walls. What would happen if we took the exterior wall off of one of your rooms? Before you proclaim the joys of fresh air and sunshine, consider rain, snow, sleet and hail, birds and bees and rotten fruit bouncing off of trees. See the floor buckle and pop, the wood rot and collapse. Look, a visitor approaches, to put a foot through that ..
(/images/postimages/Feb-Ed-Picture.jpg)This month our Education Department is trying something new, a badge workshop day for Girl Scouts. With cookie sales underway, we thought February was the perfect month to focus on money with a unique day of hands-on money minded activities at the Village! Did you know the first Girl Scout cookies were sold in 1917, the same year women received the right to vote? Anti-suffragists feared that ”political gossip would cause her to neglect the home, forget to mend our clothes and burn the biscuits.” Well no biscuits (or cookies) were burned and today women and girls are still baking, and selling their way to financial independence! The Girl Scouts of the early 1900’s needed money to pay for their troop activities. With few opti ..
Images are powerful. I think that is why I have always loved editorial cartoons. The artist can convey in one drawing what it might take an author multiple paragraphs and pages to explain. I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when I saw a cartoon from the Dallas Morning News published on February 18, 1966. It shows the looming destruction of Millermore. A picture really is worth a thousand words. The country was still in a state of transition in the mid-60s. Cities like Dallas were growing and expanding. This meant that the old and outdated had to make way for the new and updated. This trend was collectively known as progress. However, not all progress is good. In cities large and small across the country progress often arrived on a bulldozer and scraped irreplacable treasures i ..
The frontier Millers, William and Emma, died in 1899. The Victorian era ended in 1901. Millermore survived to find new meanings in the 20th and 21st centuries. It was occupied by daughter Minnie Miller Miller and her husband Barry Miller. (so many Millers!) At 58 years old, Millermore had not reached the status of “This Old House,” but was just an old house. Minnie helped it survive the crisis of middle age with a new Colonial Revival porch complete with columns. Her daughter Evelyn filled it with happy laughter, judging by her memoir, Texas Childhood. (/images/postimages/texas-childhood0001.jpg) This slim book, published in 1941, presents a rather idealized childhood. Christmas is delightful, in part because Evelyn gets every single toy she asked Santa to brin ..
As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Millermore’s close brush with destruction and rebirth as the first building in our museum, I contemplate what this house means. It means more than will fit in one blog. Millermore has been gathering layers of meaning for 160 years. It took the first 7 years to build the container for those meanings. For William Brown Miller and his (/images/postimages/cabin-interior.jpg) The Miller cabin was cozy but cramped. family in a lonely young settlement, that big house finished in 1861 was a mark on the land, signifying their success. Have you seen their cabin? It is smaller than one room in the new house! It is made of logs, a frontier embarrassment for respectable people who thought they should live in a refined manner. Or m ..