A mother imparting the lessons of fireplace tiles to her child, and the two designs that William Waters presented Havilah Babcock.
When Havilah Babcock represented Kimberly, Clark & Co. at the Wisconsin Pavilion, he encountered the latest designs in architecture and home furnishings. Two of the most prominent designs featured at the exhibition were the British Pavilion, which introduced the Queen Anne style to the United States, and Carrington, DeZoeche & Co., which showcased upholstered walls, ceilings, and furnishings.
Three years later, when plans for the Babcock-House were being made, William Waters presented two designs to Havilah. The first option was a Queen Anne style home that emphasized its English origins with Tudor half timbering, which was soon to become the most popular architectural style in U.S. history. The other design presented to Havilah was unusual, it also featured the Queen Anne style, but showcased a large tower found only in the half-timbered structures of Normandy. It is not known what influence Havilah had over the options that he was presented, but by choosing the second option, he was most likely accommodating his wife, who her children remembered as a “Frenchy sort of woman.”
Acting as his own construction manager, Havilah Babcock selected the woodwork, cabinetry, and light fixtures in each room, as well as the stained glass windows and fireplace tiles, both of which included personal narratives in their design. Storytelling within design was first promoted by William Morris, which soon included moral lessons and prompted appreciation of learning in children. Within the Havilah Babcock house, aspects like the stained glass and fireplace tiles would serve as an inspiration to the Milwaukee decorator hired to finish the home. For example, the ceiling and walls of the hallway are adorned with fall leaves to compliment the story of Pomona found within the stained glass. The Queen Anne style also inspired the decorator to incorporate historic wall treatments – stamped leather, brocade, tapestry and Neo-Classical bas relief.
Although, Havilah’s influence over the design of the Havilah-Babcock house is not documented, the parlor exhibits the style of the Carrington, DeZoeche & Co., which was incorporated thirteen years after the display closed. This proves that Havilah drew inspiration from his experience at the Wisconsin Pavilion.
Inspired features of the Havilah-Babcock House
Pictures and information courtesy of Mr. Peter Adams