Intriguing Turner House Discovery
For those of you who were interested in our Aug. 3 story about the old fireplace canopy discovery at the Turner House, we thought we’d share this photo with you for a more detailed peek at the canopy. While a team of Turner House board members was assisting with renovations at the home, they discovered an original brick-lined gas fireplace in the main hall. The fireplace had been hidden by a wooden facade and stage that had been added to the room in the 1940s for church services. When the team, including Diane Sherman, Linda Holt, James Prothro, and Carolyn Dunnigan, discovered the facade, they decided to bust through it, and they found the fireplace buried behind newspaper scraps dating back to the early ’40s.
“We discovered the fireplace baseboards were constructed of black marble with dark green veins,” explained Sherman. “Plus, the firebox was intact, as was the sage green tile surround and hearth. Once the covering came off, we saw evidence over the firebox where a beautifully shaped canopy must have once been attached.”
You could see the faint outline of where the canopy had been affixed to the fireplace. It turned out that Prothro knew where the canopy was — it had been stashed in the attic for decades, because according to Prothro, no one knew quite what it was.
“James remembered we still had such a metal canopy up in the attic,” Sherman said. “He ran to the attic and came down with the wonderful Turkish-shaped brass canopy. It was dusty and dirty, but otherwise in perfect condition. In fact, the original mounting bracket was still there. We cleaned it up, popped it on the bracket and stood back in awe! The glass side-wings to the fireplace make sense now. It all ties together!”
Now, the canopy is back in its rightful place, adding to the main hall’s unique ambience.
As many of you likely know, Turner House launched it centennial campaign last spring with a series of community events celebrating the house’s historic contribution to Oak Cliff. Part of the campaign’s efforts was to help raise funds to refurbish the aging landmark. With a $10,000 donation from the Winnetka Heights Neighborhood Associaiation and further funds from private donors, board members were able to do some pretty hefty renovations to the house.
Old parquet flooring was removed throughout the downstairs of the home, and brand-new white oak flooring was installed, then stained and sealed. Old, yellowing carpet was removed from the main staircase, revealing gorgeous never-been-painted old growth white oak treads.
“Linda Holt and I removed thousands of carpet strands by hand,” Sherman said.
The stairs were refinished, and the risers were repainted. The pairs of pocket doors were carefully refurbished, and the antique hardware on them is currently being stripped of four layers of paint. All floors upstairs and in front of the stained-glass window were beautifully refinished. Aged, faded wallpaper was stripped in the parlor and the walls and trim were repaired and repainted. New furniture was even donated for the room.
“The walls and trim were freshly repainted in colors chosen by local designer Leslie Eades,” explained Sherman. “She chose a set of neutral colors to lend a ‘bridal quality’ to the parlor with a low luster finish to cast a soft glow during candlelight weddings.”
According to Holt, since the renovations have been done, dozens of weddings have been booked at the house for the fall and winter. “And, now the brides can walk down a beautiful wooden staircase, instead of that awful carpet,” Holt laughed.
Next on the renovation docket? The bridal room.