A small town Texas discovery

Posted on | September 21, 2010 | 5 Comments

Thanks to Anna Jo for pointing us to a recently uncovered ceiling in Caldwell, Texas.  The ceiling itself is a bit of a mystery, owing both to its unusual style and the fact that the story of its origins has been lost through the succession of past owners of the house. Neighborhood lore has it that the house was built around 1898 and served originally as a boarding house.  Also the town of Caldwell, it turns out, has a strong Czech heritage which may (… or may not) factor into the primitive, almost “folk” style of the painting in it.  Could it have been painted by an itinerant Czech decorative painter back in the 90s perhaps in exchange for a few weeks board?  Fun to speculate, but no one knows…

Interestingly, we were also told that up until the 1950s, at least, the house had many papered walls and ceilings, but no one knew of this painted ceiling until the paper covering it was recently stripped away!

So here are some snapshots from the ceiling, showing some details of its center medallion and corner landscapes…

Caldwell Ceiling 13

Caldwell Ceiling 1

Caldwell Ceilng 4

Caldwell Ceiling 8

Here are two of my favorite paintings, the “solitary figure” panel and the whimsical “ships and castles” vignette…

Caldwell Ceiling 7

Caldwell Ceiling 6

According to a relative of the last owner, the house had after many years fallen into disrepair and was recently sold for its lumber.  In the process of its dismantling the ceiling was at last uncovered to everyone’s surprise.  Now this may all seem to be leading to a sad conclusion, but happily someone had the foresight to number all of the ceiling boards and carefully place them into storage until it can be determined what will be done with it…

We want to pass on our appreciation also to Dan, Reba (and her aunt) for granting us permission to post this wonderful find! If you have any ideas about the possible back story on this “mystery ceiling” we would love to hear them!


5 Responses to “A small town Texas discovery”

  1. Royce
    November 15th, 2010 @ 1:16 am

    It’s Wendish!!!! I am from Texas, and grew up about thirty miles from Caldwell. My great grandparents were wendish and came over from Germany area. The geometric design/painting on your celing looks just like what I have seen in some wendish homes. Check out the Wendish Society for more information. In one of the corner details in your celing photo you will see a painting of the Ben Nevis ship as they sailed to America!


    Hope this helps,
    Royce Zieschang

  2. steve
    November 30th, 2010 @ 2:32 pm

    Wow! Thanks for the help on that Royce. I have to admit I hadn’t heard of the Wendish before, but I’ll check out the link to learn more… I’m really glad you stopped to read our blog!

  3. Royce
    December 12th, 2010 @ 3:14 am

    A lot of people have never heard of the wends, in fact their society/culture has been disovled into Germany now, with very little of the original language and traditions left. There are a few pockets of little towns in texas,some of the traditions still survive, with the older generation. Unfortunatley this mostly hasn’t been passed down to use second and third generations now born here. Noack, San Gabriel, Caldwell, (lee and milam county) are where you will still find some wends.

    So sad that this history isn’t found in our children’s school books. The story and history is rich, colorful (as your ceiling shows) and intresting.

    Check out the linked web site for more information. They actually have a museum outside of Giddings.

    Thank you for sharing the picture!

  4. Royce
    December 12th, 2010 @ 3:18 am

    If the boards have been stored and preserved well, and if whom ever has them would be intrested in selling, let me know!~

    Another idea, donate them to the wendish museum! they probably would love to have them also!

  5. steve
    December 13th, 2010 @ 8:01 pm

    Thank you Royce for the suggestions. Hopefully the ceiling can find a good home with people who can best appreciate it and its history. I’m still so glad that you came across our blog and could fill us in on Wendish history in Texas, (since the textbooks don’t).


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