Article writen by David Taylor
Ravenswood is located on a farm 11 miles south of Boonville,
and must be seen to be believed. The main part of the house
was built in 1880 in Italianate style and was designed by an
architect. That part of the house is beautifully proportioned
and classically elegant. However, the son who inherited the house
butchered it almost beyond comprehension in 1906 by tacking on
a clumsy classic portico, a silly castleated cupola, and a large
addition at the rear of the house that is almost as badly designed
as the add-ons in the front.
The son didn't use an architect, of course, he just built
everything himself – as if you can't tell from the amateurish porch
with its awkwardly spaced columns, and graceless roof crushed down
on top of the second-story windows. The cupola is so tasteless, it
is almost quaint in a folk-art sort of way.
The house is the home of a very eldery gentleman who is the
great-grandson of the original builder, and he will let individuals
tour his house for $4. As far as I can tell, no one has done anything
to the interior of the house since this gentleman's grandfather expanded
it in 1906. And I mean nothing.
Faded Victorian curtains so old that they are falling apart cover
the windows; stained wallpaper from at least the turn of the century
is in every room; once-luxurious carpets with paths worn down to the nap
lie on the floors. The house is filled with dust-covered artwork and
antiques, most of it chipped and cracked or missing pieces. It was the
most fascinating house interior I have seen in ages.
Walking through a beautiful museum house is one thing, but walking
through a Victorian house that still has ALL the original plaster work,
the original chandeliers, the original doors, even the original
carpets and wallpaper no matter how dusty and soiled they may
be is something else again.
I had the feeling that I had stepped back in time. But I must
say, the house is not really a museum. A sign by the front door asks
you to be patient if you ring the bell, and the reason for this is that
the owner conducts the tours himself. He is very elderly, and in
frail health. He can only move around very slowly, with the aid of a
I suspect this Sunset Boulevard treasure will not last much longer.
I cannot imagine any young relatives, whose photos the owner has
incongruously stuck here and there, wishing to live in this slowly
decaying house in the middle of nowhere. Quite the contrary. Once
they inherit it, maybe they will auction the contents or just give
them away for a tax write-off. But I can't imagine them living here.
Note Added, 2003 – It has been six years since I wrote the text at
left. One of Ravenswood's neighbors has e-mailed me that the elderly
gentleman has passed on. And exactly as I predicted, the heirs have
abandoned the house and it is falling into ruin.