Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Veblen House in the 1950s

 I recently obtained some photos of the Veblen House from the 1950s. At that time, it was two-tone, with the top floor brown.
Near the house were a woodshed and a so-called dove cote, which is meant to house pigeons. I've heard that the dove cote was likely installed not by the Veblens but by the previous owner. By coincidence, a friend and I were talking a month ago about how extraordinary it would be for kids to witness a carrier pigeon in action, and thought of the Veblen homestead as one place such an activity could take place.

The woodshed in the background, torn down in 2008 or so by the county, was a very unusual structure, originally designed for the roof to rise and fall to accommodate hay as it was stacked. You can see how the four corner posts extend up from the roof, which slides up and down on them. (Note: Some internet research since writing this post shows that the woodshed was a rare example of a hay barrack, a structure that appears to have originated in Holland to store an overflow of hay from the main barn. The footprint of an old barn is just behind the hay barrack in the photo.)

The living room, with chestnut paneling, was a lovely green color enhanced by light streaming in the large, semi-circular windows. Einstein and others of considerable fame frequently visited the Veblens. My original understanding was that a painting by Robert Oppenheimer of a beloved New Mexican desert landscape had hung above the mantle. More likely is that the painting was one of two the Veblens owned by Charles Oppenheimer, a British painter. The paintings were to be left with the house, but have yet to be found.
Even the garage looks attractive, ornamented by azaleas, mayapples and other spring flowers.
Elizabeth Veblen was quite a gardener, and hosted meetings of a local garden club (most likely the Dogwood Garden Club), members of which continued to care for the grounds even after she died.
Not sure where this photo of Elizabeth was taken,

but this one is out in the field next to the Veblen House.
I believe Max Latterman helped with the grounds, and appears in this photo to be as enthusiastic a wood splitter as Oswald Veblen was reputed to be.