Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Giles Home at Spout Springs

The quiet pond which lies in front of the Giles house.

The yellow rose which has been planted in front of every Giles home on "the ridge" since the first of the family arrived there many generations ago.
The rose is mentioned in the books which Janice Holt Giles set in her husband's home neighborhood.
There were only a few shattered blooms left to mark this season.
The rose appears similar to one in the dooryard of an old home where I often visited as a child.

The large living room. Henry and Janice Giles purchased several old log structures, had them dismantled and moved to this property, then set about having them reconfigured into this sprawling house.
They found the house nearly impossible to heat and were forced to shut off several of the large rooms during the winter months.
After their deaths, the house settled into disrepair. A pleasant and knowledgeable docent showed us around, relating tidbits of Giles lore.
The Giles Society has rechinked most of the structure and had a new roof put on. Looking at the many juts and angles J. commented that the roofing job must have been nightmare-ish.
The docent mentioned that when the house was first entered to assess what repairs were needed, several snakes were found residing in the corner of the living room near the side porch door.
The bathroom hasn't been restored to working order.  Janice and Henry cut down an antique table to fit the wash basin.
A caretaker now lives in a small cottage on the property and rest room facilities can be entered there from an outside door.
The cottage is called "The Becky House."
Henry Giles deeded a quarter acre to a nephew and his wife, Rebecca.  They started building a small structure there before deciding to move away, at which time Henry and Janice re-acquired the bit of land.
Henry, wanting his own retreat, turned the "shed" into his own "office", where he wrote and amused himself.  The docent told us that Henry's drinking was often of heroic proportions and when he was the worse for it, he didn't return to the main house at night, but slept in the "Becky House" on a cot.
Janice in her auto-biographical writings maintained  a cheerful facade meant to convince the public that Henry was also busy  writing and co-authoring several published works.
Her biographer learned from letters exchanged with her editors that in fact, other than relating stories of the ridge families, Henry had very little involvement in Janice's published work.
It seems to have been a difficult--but devoted--marriage of two people with very different backgrounds and temperments.
The museum is only open on weekend afternoons between June and October. The surrounding trees were casting long shadows when we were there. This is from the side-back of the house and shows how the several log buildings were joined with their multiple roof lines.
In the past weeks I have re-read Janice's "Piney Ridge" trilogy--set in Adair County.  I've also revisted "The Kinta Years"--the memories of Janice's childhood in Arkansas and the Oklahoma Territory where she was raised with a younger sister and brother as their parents' teaching posts moved them from one small settlement to another.
I have read two of Janice's novels which have not been widely available, and will be reviewing them.
I sampled the portions of her biography which are on-line and found I had to have the book, bought at the museum and completed today.


  1. I love that quiet pond. Definitely a place I would retreat to -- if the mosquitoes aren't too bad. I am mosquito food1

  2. Interesting post. "They found the house nearly impossible to heat" - gosh, doesn't that sound familiar!!

    I'm glad they removed the snakes . . .

  3. This makes me miss Kentucky! Always enjoy your posts and pics. Just wanted to let you know that I've given your blog an award on my blog post today! It's at: http://patacakebabies.com/wordpress/

  4. I really enjoyed the read ...great post.xx

  5. Chris; So far we haven't experienced mosquitoes here--a blessing--ticks and chiggers, yes, but havne't heard the drone of a mosquito.
    BB. The accounts I've read sounds like the Giles skimped on insulation. I get the impression they were motivated more by imagination than skill in designing their house. I've heard several accounts of snakes getting in houses around here--the mere possibility gives me the shudders.
    SH; Thank you for the award--I'll wander over to see it. If I have to do more than "view" it, the doing may be beyond my skills.
    Angie: I'll be posting more about Janice HOlt Giles and her books--I wonder if they are available in UK?

  6. I have to catch up with your posts - and the geography of where you are. I am so ignorant and feel I should understand where you are. Hopefully - soon - I will have the time, Meanwhile, thanks for following and commenting on my own scrappy, scratchy posts.