Paint provides a peek at origins of the Victorian home
Patti Werdel and her painting crew began the week of August 6, with scraping and priming. As they scraped away layers of paint down to the original wood, they discovered the house had been painted tan, green and brown, with black window trim.
Tammy Caffee, who is a member of the Hand County Historical Society, said old photos of the house indicated there were different colors, but it was impossible to tell what those colors were when looking at an old sepia print. By scraping down to the wood, the mystery was solved.
“We wanted the colors to match as closely as possible what the house looked like originally,” Caffee said.
Dr. Port McWhorter built the house and he practiced medicine in part of the house for a time. In 1923, he and Dr. Wheelock established a hospital in the upper story of the old Opera House (located of the southeast corner of Broadway and Third Street), and it remained in use until Hand County Memorial Hospital opened in 1948. He had an office over Collins’ Drug Store.
When Dr. and Mrs. McWhorter moved to California, they turned over their house to the Miller School District, which still holds ownership.
The house served as a girls’ dorm for several years, and was also where hot lunch was served. At one time teachers and their families lived in apartment quarters on the second floor of the house.
The Historical Society received a grant from the Miller Area Foundation, which helped fund the painting. They also held a fundraising supper on the 4th of July. “We also received some very generous donations,” Caffee said.
She added that Historical Society members hope to soon do some restorative work on the depot next to the museum.
At the August 13 school board meeting, the district (as owners of the McWhorter House) approved the Historical Society’s request to move ahead on being placed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). This is the official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects deemed worthy of preservation. By being designated as such, Caffee said more opportunities for grants and other funding would be available.
The Historical Society board members take their positions seriously. They want the museum to be appreciated for the history it holds. And a bit of spiffin’ up with a paintbrush makes it all the more appealing for visitors.