Monday, April 24, 2017

Let's Take A Tour

The first Friday of each month the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program conducts a tour of historical homes, churches, or buildings in the central Arkansas area. I've been attending these tours for several years. It's such a wonderful opportunity to see inside beautiful and fascinating places. The last tour was of the Dibrell House built in 1892, the home of Dr. and Mrs. James A Dibrell, Jr.*  By the 1960's the house had been structurally changed and divided into apartments. An extensive restoration began in 1967 to restore it to it's original appearance. The house is of a quality rarely seen outside of museums. I don't know how else to describe it, but simply beautiful.

The home became known as "the gadget house" because of Dibrell's love of devices. The house had electric and gas lighting, an electric doorbell and a burglar alarm. There's also a system of speaking tubes (intercom) and a heating system that warmed every room in the house. All these things were very unusual for that time. We're talking late 1890 to early 1900's here!!

I took a lot of pictures, but there were two things that impressed me the most. One was the incredible hand-stenciled and painted ceilings. My favorite ceiling was in what I would call the drawing room where guests would have been entertained.

The four pictures below show closeups of the ceiling. The same scene had been painted in all four seasons.

In the same room above the bay window area was this lovely stenciling. It was so light and cheerful with pretty flowers and bluebirds.

Now, to the best part of home. The current owner is a collector of antiques. The house was filled with vases, books, and furniture. But, there was one collection that topped them all . . . his collection of eight Nickelodeons. Nickelodeons are amazing mechanical music machines. All eight of them were in pristine condition. One of my favorites was the Mills Violano-Virtuoso. Here's a link if you'd like to hear one playing. The Violano-Virtuoso was introduced in 1912 as "The Mechanical Musical Wonder of the world."

All you had to do was put in a nickle and they played the liveliest tunes.

My other favorites were a gorgeous piano Nickelodeon with stained glass and a banjo one. Some of them even had other instrument sounds as well, such as drums and tambourines.

I could have stayed in that room and listened to them for hours. Their music makes you want to kick up your heels and dance a little! Listening to the nickelodeons made me realize just how much music can affect us. They sure brought out the smiles!

I hope you enjoyed the tour. It was very hard to get good pictures as the crowd was large, 236 people attended. Made me wonder how strong the foundation was!!

Until next time,

* Dr. Dibrell was "a founder of the University of Arkansas Medical Department (now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences - UAMS) and served as its second dean. As a practicing physician and dean of the medical school, Dibrell was responsible for many of the developments in medical education in Arkansas at the turn of the century." Encyclopedia Of Arkansas


  1. What an amazing house and I am so happy that it was restored. And, boy am I happy that you took the tour and then shared it with us, Cathy

  2. this house is gorgeous, both inside and outside. your images are wonderful, it makes my heart happy, when these homes are restored. the ceiling is amazing and the woodwork is so beautiful. i have always wanted to take and display pictures of my home in the 4 seasons!! extradorinaiy art!!

  3. What a super cool place. The ceiling really were very pretty. I loved seeing the same scene in all the different seasons. Also I bet those Nickelodeons were fun to listen too.

  4. How fabulous Cathy! Thank you for sharing and giving us a glimpse of this wonderful building and the artefacts. It is great that the building has been restored and that they have tours.

  5. I just love houses from that era, Cathy! Thank you so much for sharing your photos with us. It looks like such an interesting (and beautiful!) home :)

  6. Another wonderful tour, Cathy! My favourite photos are those of the stenciled ceilings like in your fourth image with the coloured flowers and bluebirds. I also love the flowery frieze on the same photo. The music sounded such fun and put everyone in a good mood by the sound of things! I like the close-up of the musical instrument in the last photo.What a lovely day you had!

  7. 236 people that is crazy! Loved the house. It reminds me of our Felt Mansion, also a house of gadgets, although built a little later, and everybody here built these places at summer homes.

  8. Wonderful, Cathy! I love touring old houses and seeing how people lived and amused themselves long ago.


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