My Travel Philosophy

“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” – Saint Augustine

Friday, September 20, 2013

Paine Art Center

Beautiful building and grounds at the Paine
On the list of historic homes in Wisconsin open to the public, I suspected that there was a tie to the Kimberly family with it being located in Oshkosh.  The whole thing actually turned out to be quite the surprise.

First, the building is really lovely and impressive when you approach it.  It reminds me of an English manor, which was their intent when designing it.  One can almost imagine the carriages pulling up in front -- until one learns that construction on it began in 1927 when people were, for the most part, not traveling by carriage any more!
The gardens are gorgeous
The grounds are lush and, surprisingly, planted with hundreds of basil plants (now in flower) interspersed with chives, kale, and other edible plants along with gorgeous red zinnias.  The smell was heavenly!  I knew that the Paine was on the list of approved project sites for Master Gardeners so I had been wanting to see the grounds for a while.  Unfortunately, I didn't get to spend as much time outdoors as I would have liked as I was with friends who were not interested in the plantings.  I intend to go back so I can see the plantings and pool in the back of the house as well.  Perhaps in a different season!

Construction on the house was begun in 1927 (by owners Nathan Paine and wife Jessie Kimberly Paine), and the outside was completed by 1930.  However, the onset of the Great Depression caused construction to stop in 1932.  It sat empty with very little work being done to maintain it until 1946 when it was established as a museum for the public.  So, in other words, it was never lived in!  He died in 1947 and she finished the work so that the museum could open in 1948.  Although they never lived in it, they did pick out all of the downstairs furnishings.

Warning:  the pictures for the interior of the house are not very sharp because, like many museums, photography is not permitted in the house so I had to pull pictures off the internet.  When making them larger, the pictures got blurry.

Grand Staircase in Entry
Like all great houses, the entry is impressive with a hand-carved oak staircase.  The intricate carving includes oak leaves and acorns.  The staircase was hand-carved in the Michigan workshop of Alois Lang, a Bavarian-born master craftsman.  The Main Entry to the house features three sets of doors and the ceiling of the foyer is vaulted in a style reminiscent of Gothic churches.  Off the entry is the Great Hall, the living room for the family.
Great Hall
Each holiday season, when 'The Nutcracker' is performed at the Paine, the main part of the action takes place in the Great Hall.

Breakfast Room
One of my favorite rooms in the house:  the breakfast room.  It has windows on two walls (almost floor to ceiling) and would be filled with sunlight and warmth.  There is a door that leads out to a lovely patio where meals could also be taken.  The formal dining room is nearby, but I would have spent more time in this room overlooking the gardens than in the more formal dining room.

There are three bedrooms upstairs, plus a dressing room that had been designed for Mrs. Paine.  During the presentation of 'The Nutcracker' part of the activity takes place in the guest bedroom, which is used as the little girl's room in the production.  The audience just troops upstairs to enjoy the performance as it moves around the house.
Master Bedroom
There is a 'gothic gallery' upstairs that looks as though it might have been designed as a chapel, complete with a stained glass window.  However, it was actually designed to serve as an echo chamber for the pipes of a large organ that would have been housed in the Great Hall directly below.  Additionally, there is a lower level that is used as a 'children's discovery center' -- like a children's museum.

A really lovely 'home' that was never inhabited.  I can't wait to see it at Christmas time when it's decorated for the holidays with multiple Christmas trees and garland on that beautiful staircase.

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