The Copper King Mansion

On our short list of things to do in Butte, Ramona and I took a tour of the home of William Andrew Clark, a spectacular building known as The Copper King Mansion.  We took a little sit in the back yard before touring and had a visit with one of the current residents of the house.

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The mansion is used as a bed & breakfast, as well as an opportunity to learn, through tours, about local mining history and architecture, but having read reviews on Trip Advisor, I get the idea that this duo-function sometimes makes the bed and breakfast operation a little awkward for guests.  I can’t imagine sleeping overnight in a place that houses so many ornate knick-knacks and has every surface covered with historical archives.  Apparently, the best time to use the space as a Bed & Breakfast is on the off-season because you would not have to abandon the space in order to accommodate tours.  I’m glad we were there for the tour.

I was most impressed by the wood and the architectural detail throughout the home, as well as the stories given about this family and their power and wealth, not just locally, but internationally.

The entryway.  With diffused lighting and no flash, some of these photos are sketchy, but my readers will get the idea.

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Hand-painted ceiling murals are original to the home.

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This is the shower.  Really?

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The top floor serves as a museum of a wide variety of contents.  One of these dresses was owned/worn by the original mistress of the house, but I’m forgetting which one.

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Spectacles served for eye exams…below.  Cool.

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Our tour guide…still relying on notes…ended up chilling about half way through the tour when she realized we were going to go easy on her. lol

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You can see that I took many photographs of things that we discovered in the top floor.  I really wondered about the collections of Catholic vestments and treasured items.  I wondered how they found themselves in this spot.  “After Clark and his second wife passed on, the mansion was inherited by Clark’s son, who liked to gamble. Uh Oh! The mansion was sold to an outside person, who sold all the existing furniture that was in the mansion. After becoming this owner’s private residence, the mansion was eventually sold to the Catholic church and it became a home for the town’s Catholic nuns, who turned part of the top floor into a chapel, in the rooms off the ballroom area. The nuns didn’t appreciate the fresco which was painted on the ceiling of the master bedroom, so they painted over it. The mansion was put back on the market when the nuns moved out some years later, and stood vacant for 3 years.”

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A penguin collection…of all things.

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A doll collection.

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This ‘fishing’ pattern of dishes was said to have been original to the Clark home.

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As we departed, our friend was busy picking out dandelions before the rain.

Apparently there is a renewed interest in the old mansion because of “a scandal over the fortune of reclusive mining heiress Huguette Clark.”

In the News

I’ve been looking for archival boxes for a few newspapers that I’ve saved over the years.  I don’t know what it is in me that has always collected history?  Had I identified this interest as a younger person, I might have explored other careers in research…museum archivist? curatorial work?  I just didn’t know what was always naturally going on in this little bean of mine.  If you have a similar interest, don’t laminate your news and try, if you can, to sustain the integrity of the magazine or newspaper by leaving dates/headlines etc.  As a child, I didn’t know better…used glue…used some sort of bizarre blue marking pen.  I’ve photographed some of the news stories that I was intrigued by.  This scrapbook was not kept for a teacher or a class, but simply for my own pleasure.  Weird??

This is proper storage protocol for newspapers and good instruction…

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Studio news…how NOT to archive newspaper!

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Little bits of what I collected in my scrapbook…

Space travel and moon adventures…I have several others on this topic.

President Kennedy’s assassination…1963, I was living in Battle Creek, Michigan.  Black and white television and the over-and-over-again playing out of the car scene…Jackie Kennedy crawling out onto the back of the car…the President’s head exploding.  Pretty traumatic stuff.  And then, again and again, Jack Ruby pulling out the pistol and Oswald, dropping.  The images have never left my head.

Local news and funny little bits on fashion…I was consumed, for a while, about the Dionne Quintuplets.  I’m glad I had a chance to visit the museum in Callander in 2013.

In 1967, the great Georges Vanier passed.  Interesting, if you read the articles, the language of the time was so absurd.  For example, his son, Jean is described as working with “retarded” people.  Hmmm…reflections of the time.  I’m glad that we’ve moved on.

In 1965, this ten year old archivist (that was 50 years ago!), collected the news on the life of Winston Churchill.

So…when I DO manage to purchase an archival box, I’ve several newspapers to store…not a ridiculous stack, but certainly the Calgary Herald the day that Obama became President.

Since retiring, I’ve become fanatical about family history research, but I find that this preoccupation has surfaced around archives of almost anything.  This is a compulsion and had I been attentive to this natural inclination, I might have steered toward  another career in life.  At the age of 60, almost 61, I will never know.

 

Where are you, Jordan Bearshirt?

I didn’t publish a post yesterday.  I’ve been trying, interspersed with the organizing of our household, to create a reading list of my favourite writers under the heading, I Read This.  It was while publishing a page about Hugh Dempsey’s writing this morning, that I thought of Jordan Bearshirt.  I would love to meet him again.

After teaching in Medicine Hat for a couple of years, I managed to snapple a job teaching junior high art at Holy Cross Catholic School here in Calgary.  It was during my first couple of years that I met Jordan Bearshirt in my grade nine art class.  He had a profound sense of line and a meticulous way of rendering his world.  He was a quiet boy and while so many other students were performing for attention, he was in a world of his own, using every moment of time in class to draw.  After learning that his ancestors were Blackfoot, I asked him if he would do a drawing of the great Chief Crowfoot for me.  I would provide him the best of papers and would pay him as a commission for his work.  He set about the task at home and brought the first of two drawings back to me, with disappointment.  After investing hours of labour, some damage had happened to the piece.

I asked Jordan if he had a desk to work on at home and he explained that “No, I am working on the floor”.  As I recall, I had a feeling that I needed to bring this young man under my wing.  He was such a meticulous artist and such a gentle spirit.

In the end, this is the beautiful piece that Jordan Bearshirt completed in graphite on arches paper.  It has been a family treasure ever since.  I hope and pray that this young man is well and that he continued with his art.  You are in my heart, Jordan.