Here’s a little archival item to end one year and ring in a new one. My mom ran across this vintage Marble Springs postcard and gave it to me as a Christmas present. I don’t know the date of the photo, but somebody mailed the card from Knoxville to the tiny town of Godley, TX in 1910. That was thirty-one years before the state purchased the property. As you can see, the place needed some work.
I’ve seen this same postcard image online, and something about it has always befuddled me. If the building in the picture is one of the extant structures on the site, it could only be the kitchen, which is attached to the main cabin by a dogtrot.Since the main house is a good half-story taller than the kitchen, you should be able to see the gable end over the kitchen’s roof on the postcard. But from the postcard, it looks like there’s no building on the other side of the kitchen. Somebody evidently retouched the image to replace the main house with trees. I have no idea why anybody would do this, unless the smaller, dilapidated kitchen cabin better fit some postcard maker’s notion of what an Appalachian homestead should look like.
I did a little poking around online and ran across a slightly different version of the image from UT Special Collections, dated 1921. Here the main house is clearly visible, as it would be if you were standing there in person. This version, however, also looks heavily retouched. Did somebody try to clean up an earlier, already retouched version and produce this result? I don’t know enough about early photo manipulation to tell precisely what’s been done to the images.
Anyway, it’s an interesting glimpse at a place that’s changed a lot over the years, and one where I’ve been privileged to spend quite a bit of time.