Yes, we have finally given in to the 25 Random Things fad. Not normally being a list sort of person, I resisted this, but as it turned out, it was a lot of fun to compile. And I figure it gets me off the hook for doing one about me – because let’s face it, Villa Finale’s list is a LOT more interesting than mine would be. I don’t even have a My Little Pony!
Here we go…25 Random Things about Villa Finale:
1. There is a giant jar of ribbon candy that was assembled by Mr. Mathis in the 1960’s for a Christmas party. It’s still displayed in the kitchen, along with his pasta and beans!
2. The kitchen and bar cabinets in Villa Finale were salvaged by Mr. Mathis from a San Antonio mansion that was demolished in 1971.
3. The museum currently has four full-time staff members, all of whom relocated to San Antonio to work at Villa Finale.
4. The Mathis family branding iron is shaped like a tadpole.
5. There is a door to nowhere in the first floor restroom.
6. Mr. Mathis’s sister Agnes was given a fully furnished doll house depicting their ancestral home in Rockport. Mr. Mathis still has the doll house, and some of the full sized furniture depicted, in his collection.
7. Many of Villa Finale’s early owners went broke, including the second owners, the Polks. When the house was foreclosed upon in 1895, the Polks refused to leave the house, and were eventually sued for causing $500 in damages to the property. Where’s Judge Judy when you need her?
8. Along with its thousands of spectacular artworks and antiques, Villa Finale has a purple My Little Pony in its collection.
9. The Manager of Public Programs can routinely be seen huddling for warmth in her office wearing a coat, scarf, and gloves when it’s 70 degrees out.
10. Walter Mathis was a member of the King William Yacht Club, which has its annual regatta and canoe race on the San Antonio River every July 4. Seriously. And ask our former summer staff member, Charles Emmitt, about how he flipped his canoe this year and had to take three showers to get clean afterwards.
11. Although he had the Violano Virtuoso and the Bechstein-Welte reproducing piano, Walter Mathis had speakers installed throughout his house to fill it with music from his record player.
12. Walter Mathis once hosted a ten-course Chinese dinner at Villa Finale.
13. The Villa Finale staff enjoys doing things together outside of work despite seeing each other five days a week.
14. Villa Finale’s property at one time covered four lots.
15. Mr. Mathis had a phrenology bust in his collection. If you don’t know what that is, go look it up – it’s cool!
16. Vicente Amador, one of Walter Mathis’s relatives, owned the property where Villa Finale now stands in the 1790’s.
17. Walter Mathis owned one pet, a cat named Cupcake he adopted near the end of his life. After his death, one of Mr. Mathis’s friends adopted her.
18. Among the four staff members, we have 10 cats and 3 dogs.
19. If you visited Mr. Mathis, you were likely to be offered a drink consisting of Wild Cherry Pepsi and Myers Rum.
20. Contrary to the hopes of the staff, Mr. Mathis never had a swimming pool in the backyard, so we will NOT be putting one in.
21. Ditto about the speakeasy.
22. And although there is rumor of the house being used as a brothel, we will NOT be recreating it as a fundraiser.
23. Mr. Mathis ground his coffee in a large 1898 manual grinder that still sits in the kitchen.
24. Villa Finale is the only National Trust Historic Site in the state of Texas.
25. There is NOT ONE THING in Villa Finale’s attic.