This is a continuation of deTour: Spindletop Hall. If you have checked out Part I, find it here!
Over the Top Interiors
In addition to the innovative use of materials and technology, Spindletop featured unique and opulent interiors. Each room was decorated with authentic and reproduction elements to reflect a different historical period. This interesting choice of interior design may have been inspired by the DuPont estate in Delaware, Winterthur.
Most of Spindletop’s original furniture was removed to accommodate the functions of the club (and some of it was destroyed in a fire in the 1970s). According to Marvel, they are slowly re-accumulating original pieces with the hope of returning them to their proper place. Except for the original custom hand-woven wall to wall rugs that were located in each room, and the suite that was gutted by fire, most of the house’s original interior details like hand molded plaster ceilings, murals, wood work, etc. are intact today. Deferred maintenance has caused water damage to moldings and paneling in some rooms, but management is working to fix these problems and repair any damage.
The grand entrance hall brought the Georgian Revival exterior inside. It features a mantel and molded ceiling in the Georgian style. A hand-woven carpet mimicked the pattern of the ceiling. Fret-work in the ceiling and walls of the ovular room were designed to carry the sound of the Kimball organ.
The library was decorated in the Tudor style and included a stone mantel salvaged from an English estate, a hammer-beam ceiling, Gothic oak paneling and Gothic arched windows and doors. The porter-cochere off the library was oriented to the setting sun. Every evening, the sun sets behind an ornate wrought iron window cut into the wall of the porter-cochere and through the library’s opened double doors. Scenes from the Disney film Secretariat were filmed in this room.
The 30×60 foot living room (the largest in Kentucky when constructed!) is Elizabethan. The walls are hand carved oak panels. The paneling is incomplete due to the untimely death of artisan. A Flemish Renaissance tapestry from the 16th century hides the missing panels. The ceiling was reproduced from an Elizabethan room in an English country house. The imported salvaged mantel is carved with the motto, “East, West, Home is Best.”
The French Powder Room had a marquetry floor, a French mirror and French furnishings. The draperies were Louis XV silk brocade and were made in Lyon. Paintings of French courtesans once decorated the walls.
The William and Mary Music Room has burled mahogany (or according to recent controversy, burled walnut) paneling and plaster moldings. The original draperies were a William and Mary design. The ceiling is decorated with plaster molding with a musical motif including harps. A climate controlled niche once stored a world-renowned collection of Stradivarius violins collected by Frank Yount for Mildred. The organ is located in the music room, as well as the Welte, which is housed within a hand-painted lacquer Chinoiserie cabinet.
The dining room is painted Adam green with gold leaf outlining the panels. The ceiling has a Georgian patter of scrolls and flowers. The motif was once mimicked by the design of the carpet. Currently, the oak floors are exposed. The circa 1770 mantel was imported from England. The dining room has a niche for the display of china and two automated swinging doors (with an electric eye! It and the doors still work! and, ahem, are quite startling if you don’t realize they are there…), which was another state-of-the art technology at Spindletop.
Many of the rooms feature murals painted by a resident artist (and rumored lover of Pansy) from Italy. Many of the paintings and custom textiles incorporate the image or initials of Pansy, Mildred, or Spindletop Hall.
The basement was used for casual entertainment as well as utilitarian purposes. It included the Saddlebred Lounge, a horse themed den. All of the original furnishings are still in the lounge. Currently, the art displayed was painted by Elizabeth Shatner, William Shatner’s wife. Before the installation of the elevator, a gentleman’s lounge with humidor, shoe shine, valet, etc was adjacent to the lounge. The New Orleans Ballroom, also off the lounge featured an octagonal wooden floor designed to keep you dancing without the slightest fatigue all night long. A butcher shop and climate controlled fur storage room were also in the basement.
And if that wasn’t enough- the grounds!
Despite the personal touches on textiles and in murals the house, the hobbies and personality of Mrs. Yount were most evident in the design of the grounds. She was an avid animal lover (a grooming room was located in the basement, along with accommodations for guests’ pets!), gardener and indulgent mother. The auxiliary buildings dotting the property reflect her interests. She was mocked for locating her private stable mere yards from the main house, but wanted them nearby for her daughter. Her kennels, which were also located near the main house, sported fashionable pagoda roofs and bordered her Japanese inspired garden. She also had several aviaries constructed near the kennels. She constructed a pool with a bath house and tennis courts.
But the most unusual landscape element for a mansion of its size and opulence is the eight feet tall chain link fence that surrounds the entire property. When Mr. Yount died, Mildred inherited half of her father’s estate making her one of the wealthiest children in the United States. Terrified of a kidnapping attempt (possibly because the Lindbergh kidnapping in 1932 was still fresh in her mind), Mrs. Yount had the security fence installed around the property.
Thank you to the BGT and to Mr. Marvel for such a thorough and wonderful tour! By the oohs and aahs from the crowd that gathered for the evening, I know they enjoyed this deTour as much as I did!