You Can Help Villa Finale Preserve History

Meg and I have been busy bees conducting research on and off site. We’ve enjoyed looking through old photographs and documents in our quest to put together enjoyable and informative exhibits at the Visitor Center, as well as compiling information for our research files.  Late last week we had the idea of soliciting help from you, our wonderful blog readers!  This is what we are looking for:

1)  Former residents who lived in Villa Finale (the Norton -Polk House) while it was still subdivided into apartments.  This would be any time before 1967.

2)  Residents who own old photographs, documents, and or newspapers, as well as objects having to do with the history of the King William neighborhood (pre 1985).

3)  Artwork, including paintings and drawings of the neighborhood and its historic buildings

If you or anyone you know own any of the above, we would love to hear from you.  Your help will assist us in compiling neighborhood information and adding much valued items to our research files.  Thanks everyone!

Back porch of Villa Finale during one of Mr. Mathis's events, ca. 1990

Back porch of Villa Finale during one of Mr. Mathis's events, ca. 1990

–Sylvia Hohenshelt

Getting to Know Walter Nold Mathis

Mrs. Maggie Block with Walter Mathis

Mrs. Maggie Block with Walter Mathis

It’s been a very busy month for the entire Villa Finale staff. While working on a variety of different projects, I continue conducting oral histories for our Restoring Voicesprogram.  Many people are familiar with Walter Mathis’s collecting, preservation, and civic work, but only a handful can say they knew him on a personal level. 

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down to interview two of Mr. Mathis’s good friends: Edward Schroeder and Mrs. Maggie Block.  It was fun listening to them remember things like a ten-course Chinese dinner at Villa Finale, going shopping with Mr. Mathis, and stories about Mr. Mathis’s sense of humor.  Mr. Schroeder and Mrs. Block stressed how much fun and full of life Mr. Mathis was as well as being incredibly talented, not only in business but in many other areas.

For example, Mr. Mathis once restored a Lincoln convertible, had his own special recipe for chutney, and made his own crafts for Christmas — and had a way of recruiting others to help him!  The term “Renaissance man” is fitting of a man like Walter Mathis.  We would like to thank Mr. Schroeder and Mrs. Block for volunteering their valuable time (and voices) to this enjoyable project.  We hope to be able to share interview snippets with you in the near future.