Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Riordan Mansion State Historic Park

Riordan Mansion State Historic Park is located in downtown Flagstaff by the Northern Arizona University campus.  It consists primarily of the 45 room Riordan Mansion and the estate grounds. Roy and I love old estates and this one is well worth the visit!
A visit to the park begins in what was once the mansion's six car garage built in 1914, and what is now the visitor's center. The middle table has some hands on items from the time.  I spent some time trying to figure out what the metal cone attached to a stick to the forefront of the picture was.  I concluded that it must be some sort of a torch when held with the cone upward, but later found out it is called the Rapid Wash and is the clothes washing improvement over the washboard!  It does appear that it would be easier and faster than a washboard!  The items that look like wooden bowling pins are early exercise devices for the women to twirl through a variety of patterns.  The visitor's center is nicely done for period gadgets to look at and a history of the Riordan family.
In the top left corner of the display is a picture of Edward Ayers.  He established a lumber mill in Flagstaff in 1881.  Mathew Riordan (Pictured closest to Ayers picture), was the oldest of 3 brothers from Chicago.  Matthew came to Flagstaff in 1884 during its early beginnings looking for opportunity.  He went to work as a manager for the Ayer Lumber Company and by 1887 purchased the mill.  The name of the company was changed to the Arizona Lumber and Timber Company.  He invited his brothers  Michael (center) and Timothy to come to Flagstaff and help him oversee the mill operation.  The mill became quite successful as railroad ties for the Atlantic-Pacific rail line project were in high demand.  Michael and Timothy ran the logging and mill operation after their brother Mathew moved on to travel the U.S. and overseas promoting sales.

In 1904 Timothy and Micheal Riordan had a 13,000 square foot duplex home designed and built for their wives who just happened to be sisters, Caroline and Elizabeth Metz.  Their individual and similarly designed 6,000 square foot homes were attached through a 1,000 square foot shared family room.  The individual homes were designed so that front entrances gave them the privacy of totally separate homes.  
Pictures are not allowed in the home, but I did manage to find a few online!  This is the family room that joins the two homes.  Timothy and Caroline had two children and Michael and Elizabeth had five. The families gathered evenings in the shared family room for time together having fun.  Note the ample lighting!  The home had electric lights, central heat, hot and cold running water, a fire hose system, and telephones.  Note the cut-off posts coming straight down from the roof through the cross beams.  Roy says these are roof supports that would have come down to the ground as the home was being built and then later cut back to the cross beams.  I love this kind of early workmanship!
This is a side view of Timothy and Caroline's home.  The stone arches at the corner of the house extend around to the front and is this wing of the mansion's main entrance.  Note the stained glass across the tops of the lower level windows!
This is the front of Timothy and Caroline's home.  The mansion as a whole is in the Arts and Crafts style.  The Arts and Crafts style was popular from the early 1900s into the 1920s.  This style of architecture strives for simplicity, craftsmanship, and the celebration of nature.  There was a tennis court at one time near this portion of the mansion with only some visible signs of it left today.
This is the front entrance to Michael and Elizabeth Riordan's home. Items in the interior and the exterior indicate to me that Elizabeth may have had more modern tastes than her sister.
Since we couldn't take pictures indoors I couldn't get a picture of this wonderful wood stove, but happened across this old photo on the Internet!  This has got to be one of the fanciest wood cook stoves I've ever seen!  Check out the fancy metal work, shelves, waffle iron, toaster, and warming oven!  The large cylinder to the left of the stove heated water for baths.  The tour guide said it was best for baths to be taken while the stove was in use and providing hot water!  This stove was located in the kitchen of Timothy and Caroline's kitchen.  The one in the sister's home was much more sleek and modern looking.  Timothy and Caroline employed a cook and two servants, whose quarters were within the home.  It wasn't stated whether Michael and Elizabeth had their own servants, but I would assume so.
The kitchen led though a wonderful pantry with framed glass cabinet doors displaying lots of dishes and glassware.  The service pantry looked into this breakfast room.  The larger connecting room is the formal dining room.
The formal dining room was built as in an oval shape to help sound be carried throughout the room. The table was canoe shaped so the people at the table could more easily see one another and be heard better as well.  The adjoining area through the arch on the left is the main entry way. There is a fireplace with and area for guests to sit and warm themselves and a place for a piano. The archway on the right goes into Timothy's office.  Across the main entry hallway is a room called the swing room!
This is the swing room!  The swing was said to face the fireplace in the Winter and toward the front of the house and gardens in the Summer.  I had to chuckle at seeing this room as I've always thought it would be cool to have a swing in a home.  I thought I was being so innovative and to think someone else had the same thought over 110 years ago!  The doorway on the left goes across the front entryway to Timothy's office.  Across the hallway through the door on the right  is the formal dining room.
This is Timothy's office.  Note the floor lamp, as this home was said to have only seven electrical outlets.  Although the home had electric lights, it was at a time when electric appliances for homes were just being invented.
I was surprised to hear that this type light socket adapter was an early invention.  It was designed to increase electrical outlets for appliances without homeowners having to rewire their homes.
Roy and I pondered what some of the first electrical appliances for homes might have been.  Besides lamps I guessed these old style fans might have been among the first appliances.  Sure enough, this fan was invented in 1902.  The Riordan Mansion was built in 1904. The other early household electrical appliances were those that saved physical labor, such as irons, vacuum cleaners, toasters, coffee pots, refrigerators, hair dryers, and dishwashers.  They may have been rudimentary, but they were a start to providing people with increased leisure time.
This was the cook's bedroom.  She was allowed a larger nicer room to herself, as she had a wider scope of responsibilities.  There was another bedroom that two servant girls shared.  Timothy and Caroline had separate bedrooms which was common for the times among those that could afford to do so.  The two children each had their own bedrooms and there was one guest bedroom.  The bedrooms were all on the second floor.
It was disappointing to find that Michael and Elizabeth's home was furnished as a museum, as the overall tour was so enjoyable and we were looking forward to seeing more.  In reality, though, the tour was about an hour long and going through all of the second home might have been too much.  If you love old estates and are in Flagstaff, be sure to take the time to see the Riordan Mansion.