Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Family Home - Part 1

The Jon and Janet Clark family home.  These next few posts will be very long and somewhat overly sentimental.  This is mostly a record of my childhood memories and our family history.  I don't want to forget even the smallest detail of what will always be "home" to me.

My dad tells people that his home is "recycled."  That is because it was custom designed and made with materials salvaged from other buildings including a pioneer church, a historic mansion and other local buildings.  The home is packed with stories and history.  I will try to include as much information as possible in this post. 

The front of the home.  The lot is so long and narrow I could not capture it all in one photo.  The location of the home adds to its uniqueness - nestled in the foothills of "Y" mountain with views of Rock Canyon and Squaw Peak.

I have never been sure of what the original purpose of this open air room was intended to be - but we always called it the "Hawk Room" because my brother Shawn kept and raised hawks and falcons here.  There were wood slats along the sides creating a cage.  That also explains why there were frozen baby chicks kept in our freezer for years. 
This piece of leaded glass is one of several that were used in the home.  They were salvaged from the Auerbach mansion in Salt Lake City.  Auerbach's was a department store that stood for over 100 years in downtown Salt Lake and was ZCMI's greatest competition.  It closed in the 1970s.  
There is quite a bit of stone on the exterior and interior of the home. This field stone was collected outside of my father's hometown, Oakley, Idaho by my Uncle Bill.  He and my father did all of the stone work on the home.

The "key" rock.
The front door is actually just a door core that has been stained.  For many years there was leaded glass in the window.  

The entry way.
Almost every piece of furniture and piece of art in the home has a story or has meaning.  The stone topped table was made by my parent's furniture company, The Naturalist.  My parents purchased the beaded necklace hanging on the wall from a Maasai tribe when they traveled to Kenya in the early 1970s.  The other pieces of art are done by local Utah artists including Brian Kershisnik.
The view from the front door all the way down to the north end of the home - into my parent's bedroom.
My parents had the brilliant idea of lining almost an entire wall of the their home with closets.  Over the years some of the closets have had different purposes.  Originally there were 4 closets in the hallway - one for each child (this was long before I came along).  During my childhood years I remember closets in this way:  the decorating closet, the tool closet, the desk closet, the science closet, the toy closet and the fabric closet.  Each closet wall was lined with a different fabric - vintage designs so typical of the 1960s and 1970s.  The fabrics are still there.
The "decorating closet."  Note the bold striped fabric stapled to the wall of the closet.  This closet held the holiday decorating items (except for Christmas), baskets, vases and other decorating items.
Across from the "decorating closet" is the "coat closet" with this old fabric covered file cabinet.  My mother loved to keep files on every possible subject.  My sister and I recently went through one of the drawers and found files on the following subjects:  creativity, ward road shows, file folders on several different artists, Asian art, Abraham Lincoln, file folders on different holidays, Christmas programs, party games, Christmas games, the history of fashion and many other various subjects.  And they weren't random as I listed them.  They were organized according to subject.
The view from the entry way to the south end of the home.

A Frank Magleby print of the Brimhall building on BYU campus with "Y" mountain in the background.  My mother loved this painting because her father taught zoology and entomology in this building.  She would often speak of her childhood memories of being there.
Cloisonne Chinese ginger jars.  My mother's family lived in Tawain when she was in her early twenties and purchased these in Hong Kong.
My parents owned some lovely antiques but this tiny bowl is the oldest piece they own.  It was dated in 1956 to be 350 years old.  From China.

Another local Utah artist, Isaac Spencer :-)
This oil painting was done by Utah artist, Gary Collins.  Gary and my parents worked closely together on many projects to do with The Naturalist - including product and furniture design.  He was their go-to graphic designer for everything to do with their company and store design.   
The thermostat that I could never reach.
Walking into the living room.  The hardwood parkay floor has held up remarkably well through the years.  My dad installed it when the home was built.  Mostly because of the faithful waxing and buffing that was done regularly to care for it.

The home was constructed using many of these old hand-hewn timbers that were salvaged from a pioneer church that was torn down in Tooele in 1968.  It was the first church built outside of the Salt Lake Valley.  It was built in 1854.  The long green velvet drapes also came from the old church.  (My parents also took the original bell and candelabra from the wreckage but the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers asked to have these returned.  The bell is currently placed on top of the monument built to remember the Tooele 1st ward chapel.)
My parents collected the beams from the old pioneer church and piled them up in the field next to the house.  They had a very difficult time finding a contractor/builder that would even touch their project.  So many of them were afraid to work with the old wood beams.  When they finally found one - he asked my father to create a model of the home out of balsa wood with each beam numbered on the model corresponding to numbered beams in the pile in the field.  It was a tricky project but somehow they made it work.  If only we still had that balsa wood model!
The dramatic windows in the living room were custom built using the leaded glass from the old Auerbach mansion and large pieces of salvage glass that were used as store fronts in downtown Provo.
I love the exposed construction brackets used with the wood beams.
Sandstone topped table from The Naturalist.  My parents loved their flower garden and we frequently had fresh flowers in our home.  My dad filled this lovely art-deco vase with these black-eyed Susan.  Not for any particular reason other than to make the room beautiful.
The dining room.  When I was a child this table was painted white and decorated with painted flowers.  They covered it with a green velvet table cloth that came all the way to the floor (made from the same green velvet as the drapes).  It made for a great hiding spot during games of hike-and-seek!  They eventually had it refinished.  It has an extra leaf so it can seat 8-10.  I love this table.
I was about 9 or 10 when I posed as the model for this sculpture by Carol Jackman.  She worked out of a studio that sat in the parking lot of the BYU law school.  I remember she had me stand on a block of wood to keep my foot elevated.  Of course, it is not my face or head.
This antique desk belonged to my mother's grandfather Walter Robinson and sat in my grandmother Florence's home until the late 1990s. 

There was a period of time that my mother was arranging and selling these types of arrangements.  She added the birds to this one and it has been the centerpiece for the dining table.
The lovely antique cabinet held the crystal.
My parents purchased this old light fixture from an antique dealer/wrecker in American Fork - the same one that helped them get the leaded glass from the Auerbach mansion.  They turned it upside down and used it as a candelabra above the dining table.

A piece of my mother's botanical art that she did between 2005-2010.  These lovely pieces grace the home of so many family and friends and many have expressed how much they treasure them. 

One of the very early Knudsen stars.
My mom loved and treasured her Spode collection.

Another one of my mom's botanical art pieces.

My parents purchased this grand piano when I was in high school and really excelling in the piano.  I remember the first time I played it after it was delivered.  Sitting in that lovely room, looking out the window at the view of the trees and playing such beautiful music - I wept.  
Another painting by Gary Collins.
A painting done by my mother's father - Elden Beck.  He was a zoologist and entomologist.
This sculpture of Shawn and Kip when they were little boys was done by Utah artist/sculptor Dennis Smith.  He must have been just graduating from BYU at the time.

This captain's chair belonged to the Beck family and it is believed to quite old.  It has since been restored.
The candle cabinet.
Painting done by Gary Collins.  The cane wrapped in snakeskin belonged to my grandfather, Elden Beck.

I was enchanted by the view out the living room windows.  A small grove of plum trees with violets growing at the base.  There were rock pathways through the grove.
When my mother lived in Tawain with her family - they resided in a home that used to belong to Japanese priests.  Behind the home was a storage shed filled with Japanese artifacts.  My mom's parents eventually talked the owners into opening it up and since the Chinese people at that time hated the Japanese - they wanted nothing to do with any of the artifacts in the shed.  My mom's family came home with many unique Japanese items including this phoenix that sat on top of some sort of shrine or alter.

The view from the living room all the way down the length of the house.
Stairs to the loft - although my parents never once called it a "loft."  It was always just the "upstairs".  I remember as a child how scratchy that sisel flooring on the stairs was on my legs.  Come to find out, my parents actually had sisel flooring in the family room as well but removed it when they discovered how non-kid friendly it was!  Over the years the loft has been used as a playroom, a bedroom and most recently my dad's office.

My dad's office - looking back towards the living room.

Remnants of the glory days of The Naturalist and The Naturalist Home Furnishings Company (aka JG Enterprises) still remain.

My dad's clients' information kept in the old rolodex.
The Naturalist Home Furnishing's company "died a slow death" as my dad would say.  The recent downturn in the economy, changes in furniture styles and my parents own circumstances (my mom's cancer diagnosis) forced business and purchases to slow until they stopped completely. 
Wood samples for customers to choose from.
Antique typewriter.  No family connection.
My parents had two of these chests that were from Mexico.  This one held the Christmas decorations.
Looking over the railing down into the living room.

This was made and sold in The Naturalist gift shop.
I took this picture of my mom in the early 2000s.  I thought it personified her love for nature and Southern Utah.

Looking out of the office window at our beloved neighborhood.  Our neighborhood was so close we even had a neighborhood song!  It wasn't until later in my life that I realized how lucky I was to grow up in such a place.  Bike parades, family dogs, firework shows, tennis, basketball games, footballs tosses, the "walking ladies," sleepouts, snow igloos, sprinklers, trampolines....the memories come flooding back.

I'm not sure which would be considered more antique!  The old rusted metal toy bus or the fax machine!
My parents (my mom especially) were always coming up with new ideas.  Their connection with Afton Fawcett gave them access to fossils and rocks so they decided to take advantage of that with a new business line - Down to Earth.  They sold to museum and nature gift shops - including the Clark Planetarium.

These large file drawers hold the many furniture and product designs from over the years.
Gary Collins did many of the design sketches.
Old catalogs.
The "hawk room."  
A couple of pieces of leftover leaded glass.
Two antique trunks - the larger one belonged to my father's father.

The view from the living room, through the kitchen into the family room.


MollyE said...


Jae Markham said...

Emily...Thanks for sharing your story...I have the fondest memories of your Mom and how she would pay me to Catch Butterflies for the store...I also would spend hours watching Shawn and his hawks...Great Memories...Jae Markham

Julie said...

Thank you for the walk down memory lane. It was so enjoyable and insightful.

Julie said...

I loved thoroughly looked at each photo and read every word.

Jenny Thomas said...

These beautiful photos bring back some wonderful memories. Sure do love your family!