Howard wrote here once of his afternoon encounter with Rose Kavanagh, retired principal of Darrow School. It seemed the beginning of a fruitful story. [Incidentally, her name seems to fluctuate—Kavana, Kavanagh, Kavanaugh—through the project. Perhaps that will get settled soon.]
Howard had been asked by his mother to deliver something to Miss Kavanagh at her home on Third Street NW one Saturday afternoon circa 1953, which became for him a memorable right of passage: one of his first social interactions where he’d been accepted as an adult. I rather enjoyed designing Miss K’s 1910 bungalow and imagining Howard’s hesitant knock at its front door; his welcome in and the generous offer of tea and conversation, rather than the perfunctory acceptance of an unspecified package and a hasty dismissal. I had a mental picture of her home (drawn from the Arts & Crafts era work of Chicago architect Lawrence Buck, whose work I’ve admired for forty years or more) and, indeed, I could hear and smell it as well: the gentle chime of a mantle clock on the quarter hour; the faint scent of sachet and other smells we often associate with the aged. So it’s very likely that Miss K will become a unit in the “Agincourt Homecoming” exhibit next September.
Rose Kavanagh is a composite of several teachers in my own early education—always women—who, in hindsight, had treated me well at a difficult time in my life. Perhaps this is a small way to pay them back for their kindness. And so the story evolves: a stained glass window grew into a house; the house required furnishings and accessories; those decorative elements became the focus of social ritual; and one of those rituals involved a small boy of nine or ten.
The house needed artifacts appropriate to its age and the social standing of its owner, choices I was happy to make. This afternoon, in fact, it appears to have generated a piece of furniture: a side table with nesting chairs that I hope to build in our woodshop and include in next year’s exhibit as part of Miss Kavanagh’s story, the setting for Howard’s Saturday afternoon tea.