Thursday, November 27, 2014

Our house, in the middle of our street

When I was 12, I started training during the summer a junior interpreter at the McFaddin-Ward House in Beaumont, TX. It was built in 1905-1906 in the Beaux Arts Colonial style by a prominent local family who lived there for 70 years. You can learn more about the history here.

I don't remember how I found this opportunity, but I'm sure I had to apply and be selected. They picked probably ten applicants a summer. I was excited about it because I'd been to many events and field trips at the house before and, well, I'm kind of a nerd.

The first summer, I focused on learning the grounds and carriage house. There were a couple of 200 year old oak trees and a beautiful rose garden. The carriage house is where the staff would live, in addition to storing the cars and carriages.

The second summer, I got to start learning the house itself. The family didn't make many changes to it after the 1950s, and they were incredible record keepers, so we actually know a great deal about their lives and how the house was set up and used. There are several original furnishings and decorations and most of the house is open for touring.

Training consisted of memorizing facts about each of the areas, sections, and rooms, as well general information about how to be a tour guide. We also went on several field trips to other historical homes in the surrounding area to see how they did things.

Ultimately, I didn't give a lot of tours. The school year always got busy and passing the house tour coincided with my first reconstructive foot surgery, so I was, literally, not on my feet for a while. Giving house tours on three floors, with stairs, on crutches was not easy. I think I gave at least one grounds tour though. We also moved away shortly after my recovery.

In the end, it was a really interesting experience. I love local history anywhere I travel, so to be part of preserving and sharing it was an honor. I look forward to going back one day to visit again!

Photo courtesy of the McFaddin-Ward House website


Giggles said...

Cool! If we're still here when I'm old I want to be a docent at the desert museum. Maybe I can convince one of my kids to be a junior docent.

AmandaStretch said...

I would absolutely go on one of your tours.

Heidi said...

One of my dream jobs is to be a costumed interpreter at a place like Plimoth Plantation or Colonial Williamsburg.