59 Lucy Lane — Lucille Ball's Childhood Home:
An Illustrated History and a Visit

Bill Rapaport

https://59LucyLane.com/
59LucyLaneLLC@gmail.com

Last Update: Friday, 15 September 2023


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(Click on (almost) any photo for a larger image.)



Mary and Bill Rapaport own 59 Lucy Lane, in Celoron, NY, the house in which Lucille Ball grew up. This is its story.




Table of Contents


Who's Who?

Our cast of principal characters includes (in chronological order by date of birth):

Here is a wonderful photo of Flora Belle, Grandpa Hunt, Lucy, and Fred:


Which House is Lucy's?

Lucy lived in at least seven locations in Chautauqua County. For a detailed timeline of Lucy and her family in the area, see James Sheridan's timeline "Lucy: The Early Years".

  1. 123 Stewart Ave., Jamestown, NY:

  2. Charlotte Center, NY:

  3. Buffalo St., Jamestown, NY:

  4. 400 W. 8th St., Jamestown, NY

  5. 20 W. 12th St., Jamestown, NY

  6. 59 Eighth St., Celoron, NY:

  7. 20 E. 5th St., Jamestown, NY:


Early History of the House

The house began life as 59 Eighth St. (It is sometimes known as 59 West 8th St., because the streets to the north and south are West 7th St. and West 9th St., each of which changes its name to East 7th and East 9th when they cross Dunham Ave., but there is no East 8th St.).

The name was changed to 'Lucy Lane' in April 1989, in honor of a planned visit to the area by its most famous resident. Unfortunately, Lucy died that month.

The house (and its garage) is on one of four lots:

The other three lots are undeveloped (except for a chicken coop that we had built after we purchased the property (more on that when we go to the back yard).

My guess is that the house was built around 1880 or 1890, judging by its architecture. It shows up on the tax rolls as having been built in 1900, but so are many other houses in the county, so I suspect that that date represents when records began to be kept, rather than the date of construction.

The first owners were Frederick P. Hall and his wife Lucy M. Hall. (As you will see, there are several Freds and Lucys in this story!) Hall was the publisher of the Jamestown Journal newspaper. He lived on Lakeview Ave. in Jamestown, so the house in Celoron was probably a rental property. The first renter was Matthew Wright, an employee of the paper. (See "Celoron News" column of the Jamestown Evening Journal, 8 October 1915, p. 3. ) After Wright died in 1915, Hall was supposed to sell the house that year to Lucille's grandfather, Frederick C. Hunt (see the "Celoron News" column link above), but our deed shows that the sale didn't close until 1920. Nevertheless, the Hunts (Grandpa Hunt, his wife Flora Belle (Lucille's grandmother), and their younger daughter Lola) lived there from 1915 to 1920 (presumably as renters), attested to by several "gossipy" news articles about the family in the Jamestown Evening Journal. (See the announcement of Lola's marriage, from the Jamestown Evening Journal, 19 September 1917, and an article about DeDe that mentions Lucy, from the Jamestown Evening Journal, 17 October 1917.)

The Halls finally sold the house to Fred and Flora Belle on 1 February 1920 for $2000, which is about $30,500 in today's money (as of September 2023) — still a pretty good price for the property! And that's when their older daughter DeDe, her second husband Ed Peterson (remember that Lucy's father, Henry Ball, had died in 1915), and DeDe's (and Henry Ball's) children Lucille and Fred moved in. Lucy would have been about 8½ years old.

There's some vagueness about the year that Lucy moved in. According to Lucy historian James Sheridan (personal email, 11 October 2022):

And, according to Sheridan (personal email, 29 April 2023):

But Lola was still living in the house in 1920, and so was Cleo. So we have the two grandparents, their two daughters, DeDe's husband, Lucy, Fred, and Cleo all living there at the same time. There are only three bedrooms in the house (as we'll see when we go upstairs), so there's a question about where they all slept! (I'll suggest an answer when we go into the parlor.)


The Shooting Accident

The family lived there until 1928, when they lost the house because of a shooting accident. On 3 July 1927, Grandpa Hunt, Fred (who would turn 12 years old in 2 weeks), 8-year-old Cleo, a 14-year-old girl named Johanna Ottinger (a friend of Fred who, according to some local news outlets at the time, lived in Celoron — but see below), and 8-year-old Warner Erickson, who lived in the house next door to the west and was a childhood friend of Cleo, were target shooting in the back yard with a .22-caliber rifle, with the target some distance away near 7th St. (If the 1926 Jamestown City Directory is to be believed, no one lived on 7th St.) They were near the back porch, with Warner sitting on the ground just east of the porch steps. Johanna was holding the rifle when Warner's mother called him to come home. He ran in front of Johanna just as she pulled the trigger. He was hit in the spine, fell near a lilac bush, was crippled, and died five years later (on 7 November 1932). Grandpa Hunt was held responsible, and was sentenced to house arrest in Mayville (the county seat) for a year. Because he couldn't work, he had to declare bankruptcy, and the Halls — who held the mortgage — foreclosed.

DeDe, Lucy, and Fred moved to an apartment in downtown Jamestown, and Cleo was sent to live with her father in Buffalo (her parents had divorced, and Lola had died). It wasn't until Lucy made it big in Hollywood that she was able to bring the whole family together out there.

You can read about the tragedy in these news articles:


Oldest Known Photo

Here is the oldest known photo of the house:

There are several things to note in this photo:


Later History of the House

In 1928,
Zurh C. and Bernice M. Faulkner bought the house. (The Zurh of the See-Zurh House restaurant in Bemus Point was their son Zurh, Jr.) The Faulkners lived there for the next 70-odd years. They erected the garage that is on the property in 1941 (according to the Chautauqua County Assessor).

On December 31, 1955, as a prelude to Lucy and Desi's 1956 visit to Jamestown, the Jamestown Post-Journal wrote an article about the house, which you can read here. (As for why the article calls Lucy an "ex-basketball star", see below.)

Zurh, Sr., died in 1968. Shortly before Bernice died (in 2002), her two surviving sons Milton and Lloyd put the house up for sale on eBay.

Elaine C. Thoni, a fan from Florida, bought it, as described in this TV Guide article:

She was planning to spend summers there, and so she began to remodel the house, ripping out the original kitchen (or the kitchen as it may have been remodeled by the Faulkners).

There is one other photo of the original kitchen, showing Lucy and Desi in the doorway between the kitchen and the "wicker room" when they visited in 1956:

Thoni put in a modern kitchen, turned the half-bath that is off the dining room into a full bath with a stall shower, and put a staircase elevator on the steps leading up to the second floor. Legend has it that she spent a few weeks living in a trailer in the back yard until the village told her that she couldn't do that. She went back to Florida and never came back.

Thoni's family put the house up for sale in 2004, and Mary and I bought it in February 2005, with the intention of restoring it to what it might have looked like in the 1920s when Lucy and her family lived there.

When we bought the house, it was covered in green aluminum siding, clearly not original to the house. Here's a photo of me in front of the house shortly after we closed the sale on it:

We removed the aluminum siding to find gray wood siding underneath, which we repainted (see the photo at the top of this website). But after a few years, the sun took its toll on most of it (except the driveway side, shaded from the sun), and it had to be removed. Mary replaced it with custom-made wood siding designed to look like the original. We kept the original siding (most of it is in our garage at our home on the other side of the lake), gave some to Lucy-fan friends, and made shadowboxes out of some of them. The "forensic painters" who painted the new siding scraped away the old paint from the original siding and discovered that the original colors of the house were a bluish-gray for the siding and tan for the trim:


The Back Yard

In May 2005, Fred and Cleo were invited back for one of the Lucy Festivals. It was the first time that Fred had been back since 1928; Cleo had been back to the area once before for a festival. They told us that the back yard had been home to fruit trees and Fred's vegetable garden, and that there had been a chicken coop, with possibly a playhouse in the back.

(According to James Sheridan [personal email, 29 April 2023], "The family did raise chickens in the chicken coop. Lucy mentioned the chickens several times over the years, including on The Phil Donahue Show in 1974." And according to an article by Jean Kinkead in Modern Screen, "In their spare moments, Lucille, her sister Cleo, and their brother Fred converted the chicken house into a little theater. They considered it quite plush, but it was still pretty chickeny on a hot night." [Thanks to Michelle Zimmerman for this!])

When we bought the property, the only things in the back yard were the 1941 garage and some trees. When we learned about the chicken coop, we had the crew who were doing the restoration work build one. And then one of the trees fell on it during a thunderstorm. So we had the remaining trees taken down, and had the crew build a second chicken coop. But they built it with columns, making it look like a Greek temple!

We told them that it was just supposed to be a chicken coop, but they told us that that's how people built chicken coops back then. Keep that story in mind; we'll come back to it when we go into the wicker room. We also put in a small vegetable garden behind the chicken coop, in honor of Fred's original one.

In 2013, we held a fundraiser for Chautauqua Hospice, planning on selling hot dogs and beans. We needed a grill, so Mary decided to have a local stonemason (Jason Sivak, of Sivak Stonemasonry) build a replica of the infamous barbecue from one of the Connecticut episodes of I Love Lucy. In that episode, Ricky and Fred Mertz build a beautiful brick barbecue:

Lucy thinks that she lost her wedding ring in the grout, so she and Ethel take the barbecue apart at night to try to find the ring. They don't find it, so they put the barbecue back together, not looking quite like it did when it was built:

At first, Sivak was reluctant to build it to look like the one that Lucy and Ethel put together, but after watching the episode, he and his crew decided that they had to try. (And they were rewarded by being on a local Buffalo news program!)

There is one difference between the TV prop barbecue and ours: In the episode, Lucy found her ring in the hamburger meat. But we have a loose brick in our barbecue; when you remove it, you see a wedding ring stuck in the grout! But it's not just any old wedding ring: Mary found it in the house during the restoration.

That same year, Mary repainted the garage in the style of Lucy's blue and white polka dot costume from I Love Lucy:


Downstairs

The Kitchen

Mary worked with Caresse Bush, a Celoron antique dealer, who helped her find turn-of-the-century antiques from Chautauqua County. Because the house belonged to Lucy's grandparents, many, if not most, of the things they owned would have dated from the years around 1900, rather than the 1920s. So most of the antiques in the house were actually in houses in the area at the time.

The first thing that Mary did was to remove Thoni's modern kitchen and re-create the original kitchen! We donated the modern appliances to the Lucy-Desi Museum for use in the Tropicana Room's kitchen.

There are a few things that are original to the house. All of the floors, doors, and woodwork (with a few exceptions) are original. The major exception is the cabinetry in the kitchen where the (modern) refrigerator is. That is where Thoni's stall shower was. When we removed it, we had to replace the wall, so we had the wall of storage units built to match the wainscoting in that area.

In the kitchen, the three-drawer unit to the left of the sink is original to the house. When Lloyd Faulkner sold the house, he moved that unit to his basment to store his tools. When he learned that we were planning on restoring the house, he gave it to us, and Amish carpenters were hired to build the rest of the sink-area storage space to match it and the eBay photo.

When we bought the house, there was only one window above the sink (recall the eBay photo). But when Cleo visited, she told us that there had always been a mirror there and that Lucy would look in the mirror and sing while doing the dishes. When the crew doing the restoration opened up that wall to redo the insulation, they found two window frames! So we closed up the lone window over the sink, reopened the other two, and bought an antique mirror to hang over the sink.

I got some of the antiques in the kitchen from eBay, such as the Larkin and the Chautauqua Coffee products that you can see in the photo of the stove, below. However, the flattened Chautauqua Coffee can framed on the wall to the left of the stove was used as shingling on the roof! But my favorite eBay purchase of all time is the calendar hanging on the cupboard to the right of the sink: It is from 1923 (when Lucy and her family were living there), from a Celoron grocery store that Fred sold his vegetables to! (I think I paid about $10 for it, but I would have bought it at almost any price.)

The gas stove works. Mary has had meals cooked on it, and she has baked blueberry muffins in it during the Lucy Festivals.

There is a drawing on the wall to the right of the stove that was done by Michael Israel.

Israel is a "speed painting" artist who does fundraisers. He puts a large canvas on a stage and pots of paint on the floor, turns on some rock music, and then takes paint brushes and throws paint on the canvas, spins the canvas around, paints a bit here and there, etc. The audience has no idea what he is doing, or why, but, when he's finished, you realize that he has painted the Statue of Liberty, or the Beatles, or a portrait of Lucy. When he was in Bemus Point for a fundraiser in 2013, he visited Lucy Lane. Mary asked him to draw something on the wall in the kitchen, so he took a red marker, started drawing a rose, and then turned it into a portrait of Lucy!


The Dining Room

From the kitchen, we next go into the dining room. Currently, we use the dining room to display some of the I Love Lucy crafts that Mary makes. These include some shadow boxes containing newspaper or magazine ads that Lucy did, along with the actual product. (The bookcases in the room belonged to my parents and me. The small one dates from the late 1940s. The two larger ones were handmade and date from the early 1950s.)

Cleo told us that Grandpa Hunt had a copy of Rudyard Kipling's poem If— hanging on the wall next to the door to the half-bath, so we printed one out, framed it, and hung it there. And he had a painting of a fish on wall on the driveway side, so we had a friend paint a fish, and we hung it there — all just to make the room a bit more homey.

The patterns for the paper-doll wallpaper in the half-bath …

… as well as all of the wallpaper throughout the house, came from a 1920s wallpaper book that Wellman Brothers in downtown Jamestown had. Mary commissioned them to rescreen these patterns for new wallpaper to put in the house. So, although the wallpaper was new in 2005, the patterns date from the 1920s. (I'll have a bit more to say about the wallpaper in the next section.)


The Wicker Room

Leaving the dining room, we go into what we call the "wicker room", because Fred told us that Grandpa Hunt had wicker furniture here. So we bought some antique wicker chairs for the room.

On the floor just in front of the doorway from the dining room is a replica of the furnace grate that was here originally:

When we bought the house, there was an "octopus furnace" in the basement that we had to get rid of because of potential asbestos issues. (We replaced it with modern furnaces and air conditioners.) Cleo told us that Lucy and she would stand over the original grate in the winter to warm themselves up before going up to bed.

In this room, we have several photos of interest. One is a photo of Celoron High School, which stood at the corner of 8th St. between Dunham Ave. and Alleghany Ave. until about 1928 or 1929, when the current red-brick school building was built (which now houses the Celoron office of The Resource Center).

Another is a photo of the freshman class that was taken in 1927 in front of that building:

There are four people of interest in that photo: Lucy is in the front row, second from the left. Seated on her right (to the left as you look at the photo) is Pauline Lopus, her best friend, who lived in the house next door to the east. Just behind Lucy, in the middle row, second from the left, is Angelina Patti, the mother of Broadway triple-Tony Award winner Patti LuPone. Before I say who the fourth interesting person is, a reminder that Lucy and the writers often named characters of I Love Lucy after people in Jamestown. Pauline Lopus was one. Fred Mertz was probably named after both Grandpa Fred Hunt and Lucy's brother Fred. Another such character was Lillian (and later Carolyn) Appleby. The real Mrs. Lillian Appleby — their teacher — is in the middle row on the far right. (She is also mentioned at the bottom of the first column and top of the second column in the news article about DeDe cited earlier.

Here is another photo of Lucy at Celoron High, from 1925, showing her with the basketball team; Lucy is on the ground in the front of the photo:

On the wall next to the entrance to the kitchen is a family photo collage that Lucie Arnaz made for Cleo, and that Cleo gave to us to hang in the house. I made a copy of it, which she annotated with help from Fred and Zo Ball. The original is in the display case in the wicker room. Here it is, in four sections (click on each section for more detail).

top left top right
bot left bot right

Cleo remembered many, but not all, of the people in the collage. (A word to the wise: If you have any family photo albums, write down the names of all of the people in the album — even those whom you know so well that you might feel foolish identifying them! But many years from now, your descendents may not know who any of those people are unless you have named them.)

Here are some of them:

There is a cabinet displaying some items of historical interest:

On the left half of the display case are artifacts that I got on eBay from Celoron Amusement Park, which was located where Lucille Ball Memorial Park and the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel now are. The amusement park was there from 1894 to 1962. (Its full story is told in Thomas J. Goodwill's Celoron Park on Chautauqua Lake (New Port Richey, FL: Bookworm Printing LLC); ISBN 978-0-578-04294-7.) It was built by Almet N. Broadhead, who also owned the Jamestown Street Railway Company. The amusement park was one of many "trolley parks" around the country that were built by trolley companies so that people would have a reason to ride the trolleys! (Midway State Park, on the other side of Chautauqua Lake, is another, also built by Broadhead.)

Lucy spent a lot of time at the park, going on rides, working at the concessions, attending dances, and watching vaudeville shows at the Theatre, where she developed her love of theatrics.

Among the items displayed are a triple postcard showing the park, a check signed by Broadhead, and a program from the Celoron Theatre at the park. Here is another program:

Although this one dates from 1901, long before Lucy's family were there, it is of interest because page 3 advertises the Three Keatons, featuring six-year-old Buster Keaton, later Lucy's comedic mentor.

Displayed on the right half of the cabinet are items that Mary found during the restoration. Of note are:

Above the display case are a screen window that used to be in the attic, a piece of the original insulation (labeled "Jamestown NY") that was under the siding, a shadow box containing some hardware that was found during the restoration, and another shadow box with a small fragment of a girl's (or a doll's?) dress that was used as insulation:

A pair of skis next to the display case were left in the house from Lucy's family, according to Lloyd Faulkner. (A second pair is at the Lucy-Desi Museum.)

On the wall opposite the family photo collage is a copy of two pages from the typescript of Lucy's autobiography that talk about the house:

Lucie Arnaz had auctioned it off, and we had won the auction, but then she learned that she was not authorized by the copyright holder (Desilu, Too, a company run by Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr.) to sell it, so she Xeroxed those two pages for us, along with an apology note:

The door on that wall leads down to the full basement, which currently houses the workings of 59LucyLane.com


The Parlor

From the wicker room, we go into the parlor. When Flora Belle was ill with cancer, she used the parlor as her sick room, until she died in 1922. We think that that might be why there is a curtain rod at the very wide entrance to the parlor — she would have wanted some privacy. The rod looks like it was something installed after the house was built. It plays another important role (see below), so when I was shown the house by the realtor, it was one of the first things I looked for. And we removed it when we began the restoration so that it would not get damaged.

Cleo told us that after Flora Belle passed away, the parlor became a music room. Everyone in the family played an instrument: Fred played the cello, DeDe played the piano, and Lucy really did play the saxophone, something that she made believe that she couldn't play very well in several episodes of I Love Lucy. In her honor, there is an antique saxophone in the room (not her original one!). Cleo also told us that there was a piano on the wall between the parlor and the dining room. I found an Ahlstrom piano on eBay that someone near Bradford, PA, was selling. Ahlstrom pianos were manufactured in Jamestown; this one dates from 1891, as the certificate on the piano's music stand says. (Could it have been Lucy's piano? Who knows?)

On top of the piano is a toy rake that Mary found above the stairs against the wall. Fred told us that it was a toy rake for Cleo (perhaps so that she could help him in his vegetable garden).

There are also three photos (downloaded from the internet). One dates from 1919, the year before Lucy moved to the house, and is a photo of her class at the 8th Street School in downtown Jamestown (not 8th St. in Celoron):

The second photo is an enlargement of the portion showing Lucy:

The third is a photo of Grandpa and Grandma:

We sent copies of the photos of Lucy and her grandparents to an artist friend of ours, Chuck Dransfield, who found photos of DeDe and Fred Ball; we commissioned him to paint the family portraits that hang in the parlor:

For a letter from Dransfield to me that provides the sources of the portraits of DeDe and Fred, along with some insight on his painting process, link here.

On the table in the center of the room, surrounded by souvenirs from the amusement park and elsewhere in Western NY, is a display case on top of which is a page from an 1881 Chautauqua County atlas showing the James Prendergast Library Building on the corner of Main and 3rd St. in downtown Jamestown:

(The present Prendergast Library building on 5th St. was constructed in 1890.) This original Prendergast Building was torn down around 1937, and the building that is there now was erected and leased from the library for use as a Woolworth's:

After Woolworth's moved to Chautauqua Mall, the building housed a Rite Aid pharmacy, and now houses the Lucy-Desi Museum. But of more significance for us, the original building housed the showroom for Ahlstrom Pianos (take a close look at the 1881 atlas figure). So, the piano in the parlor was most likely purchased from the building that used to be where the Lucy-Desi Museum is now!

In the display case underneath this atlas page is a December 1923 issue of the Jamestown Morning Post newspaper that Mary found wrapped as insulation around the outside of the "poop pipe" that leads from the upstairs bathroom to the sewer. (It's not in great shape, but it is now nearly 100 years old; who are we to throw it out?)

There are also two photo albums on the coffee table under the front window. One contains photos from the 2005 visit by Fred and Zo Ball, Cleo and Cecil Smith, and Lucie Arnaz, as well as photos from the 2007 visit by Zo (Fred had passed away earlier that year), Cleo, and Lucie. The 2005 visit was videotaped (including Fred and Cleo's re-enactment of the shooting!), and a DVD of it is in the DVD player next to the piano. Here a few of those photos:

The other photo album contains historical photos of the house, beginning with a photo that may have been taken around 1927 and that I found in a TV Guide article about the family. It shows Lucy, an unidentified little girl (could it be Johanna?? — despite local newspapers saying that she was from Celoron, no Ottingers show up in the 1922, 1926, or 1928 City Directories), Fred (holding a dog), and Cleo, standing in the driveway of the house. (This is the only other photo I have of the family at the house. The dog might be Lucy's dog Whoopie, according to Michelle Zimmerman [personal email, 9 May 2023), who identified the dog in another photo with Lucy.) The photo also shows a house across the street, but the house in the photo doesn't quite look like the house that is currently across the street, so either the one in the photo was torn down and replaced, or else remodeled. (In nearly a hundred years, anything can happen!)

This is followed by a series of photos given to us by Lloyd Faulkner that were taken when Lucy and Desi visited Jamestown in 1956 for the world premier of their movie Forever Darling at the Palace Theater in downtown Jamestown (now the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts). (The full story of this visit, with many photos, is told in Christopher T. Olsen's Lucy Comes Home: A Photographic Journey" (New York: G-Arts, 2018). (You can look inside Olsen's book at its Amazon.com page.)

Lucy had been back to Celoron in the 1940s. Here are two photos from Lucy's visit in 1946:

But this was the first time she had returned to her childhood home. And, of course, it was Desi's first visit to the area. The photos show Lucy, Desi, Mrs. Faulkner, Lloyd's toddler son, and several neighbors. The two central photos show Lucy in the parlor; in one of them, she touches the curtain rod:

Besides perhaps being used to provide privacy for Flora Belle, Lucy also used the curtain rod when she put on plays (along with Pauline Lopus and, perhaps, Fred and Cleo) in the foyer, with the adults seated in the parlor as the audience. Lucy would put a sheet over the curtain rod to use as a curtain:

There is one other possible use of the curtain rod: As we'll see later, there are three bedrooms, one for DeDe, one for Grandpa and Fred, and one for Lucy and Cleo. But where did Lola sleep? The 1926 Jamestown and Celoron city directory lists Lola as working downtown at a hair salon but with her residence in Celoron, yet she is not listed in the Celoron section of that directory. Presumably, she was living at the house and, perhaps, sleeping in the parlor — where she would have needed something hanging from the curtain rod to give her privacy.

Courtesy of Michelle Zimmerman, here are two other photos from that 1956 visit:


The Foyer

We needed a telephone for both the online store and our security system. Gregg Oppenheimer (son of I Love Lucy creater Jess Oppenheimer) told us where we could get reconditioned 1920s telephones that would work with modern phone systems, and so the old phone in the foyer really works. Gregg also gave us the phone label with the old letters+numbers version of the current phone number:

According to James Sheridan (personal email, 29 April 2023), "an undated 1915 newspaper announcement with new telephone numbers … lists the number of Lola Hunt, Celoron resident, as 358-w. I assume this was the first telephone number for the household in the Celoron house." (There is a 1914 Jamestown area phone book in the foyer; it does not list Lola or any of the Hunt/Ball family.)

On the coatstand in the foyer are several city directories from the time period that Lucy's family lived there, listing some of the family members, including Lucy and Fred. The one that I show to visitors is the 1926 Polk Jamestown City Directory, several pages of which I have put online (click on the book title):

So there's the proof, if you needed it, that Lucy and her family really lived there!


Upstairs

DeDe's Bedroom

The first, and largest, bedroom belonged to DeDe and Ed.

The wood floor in several of the rooms (including this one) show a hundred years of dirt and grime, whereas the floors in the hallway have been scraped clean. We did not scrape in the bedrooms, because they each have original linoleum, and we did not want to take the risk of damaging them. The linoleum patterns were designed to look like area rugs, and they are in surprisingly good shape.

The dresser in this room is DeDe's original dresser:

Lloyd Faulkner knew the woman who had acquired it when Lucy's family lost the house, and he put Mary in touch with her. Mary offered to buy the dresser from her, but she refused on the grounds that she needed her dresser! But she offered to give the dresser to Mary, if Mary would buy her a new one, which, of course, she did. My guess is that the dresser was made in Jamestown, which had a large furniture manufacturing industry. (See Carson, Clarence C. (2014), The Jamestown Furniture Industry: History in Wood, 1816–1920 (Charleston, SC: History Press).)

On a mannekin in the room is one of Lucy's costumes from her 1950 movie Fancy Pants with Bob Hope, which we won at an auction:

She wears it in the opening scene set at a racetrack in England.

Next to the mannekin is another old newspaper that Mary found stuffed in the kitchen ceiling as insulation. This one dates from 1927 (and, despite its relative youth, is in worse shape than the one downstairs from 1923).

On the wall is a portrait of Grandpa Hunt. As you walk into the room, it looks like a photograph, but, when you get up close, you realize that it is needlepoint (or, perhaps, cross stich). It was done by Lloyd Faulkner, who gave it to us to hang in the house. One of Lloyd's hobbies was turning photographs (including some of the ones with Desi and Lloyd's son) into needlepoint.

On the far wall is a door that opens into a sizeable walk-in closet, one of two in this room (the second is near the mannekin). I always feel like a real-estate agent when I show the house to visitors: It has three bedrooms, two baths (a full bath upstairs, a half-bath downstairs), large walk-in closets in each bedroom, a beautiful back yard, and a full basement. The house definitely feels larger inside than it looks from the outside. And although there were a lot of people living in it, they were a close-knit family, and I don't think that they felt strapped for space.


The Middle Bedroom

The middle bedroom was shared by Grandpa Hunt and Fred. It, too, has original linoleum:

Mary needed two beds for this room: a double bed for Grandpa Hunt, and a twin bed for Fred. Caresse Bush knew where Mary could get Pauline Lopus's old bed, and so we use that one for Fred. And, although the dresser in this room also did not belong to Lucy's family, it did belong to Lloyd Faulkner when his family lived in the house.

The bedspreads in all of the bedrooms are anachronisms: They date from the 1950s, not the 1920s. But they were a product that Lucy advertised. (A copy of one of the ads is on Grandpa Hunt's bed; click on the link and scroll down to see the ad). They were also used in I Love Lucy. Mary couldn't exactly display them in a shadow box, and she needed bedspreads for the beds, so this proved a good way to use and display them. (The sheets on all the beds, by the way, are vintage, not permanent press.)

This room, too, has a large walk-in closet, to the left of Grandpa Hunt's bed — it is so large, in fact, that it could easily be used as another room such as a nursery, if only it had a window.

Between Grandpa Hunt's bed and the closet hangs a wooden item containing a pull-down mirror and a drawer. If the women in the house were occupying both bathrooms, and if the men wanted to shave, they could use this mirror and the water pitcher and bowl next to it, with their shaving equipment stored in the drawer.


The Bathroom

The bathroom also has old, if not original, linoleum. But the most important item in the bathroom is the bathtub: Lucy's original tub. In her autobiography, Lucy talks about the day that the tub arrived and they no longer needed to use a "galvenized washtub" with water heated on the kitchen stove. Thank goodness Elaine Thoni never got around to removing it (no doubt that is the reason that she installed the stall shower downstairs).


Lucy's Bedroom

The final room in the house is Lucy and Cleo's bedroom. They shared the room, and they shared a bed. When Cleo visited, she sat on the bed (ours is an antique, not the original one) and laughed, telling us that Lucy would come in at 3:00 a.m. from some escapade at the amusement park, and sneak around the bed trying not to awaken her:

There is also original linoleum (with the same pattern as in the middle bedroom), and another walk-in closet. The light fixture above the bed is the only remaining original light fixture in the house:

In 2001, Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr., made a TV documentary for the 50th anniversary of I Love Lucy. When they were filming, the house was for sale on eBay and was unoccupied. There's a scene in the documentary where Lucie and Desi Jr. walk through the house. When they get to this room, Lucie looks out the window and tells Desi that their mother used to love looking out that window at the lilac bushes in the back yard. There are still descendents of those lilacs in the back yard.

The final eerie coincidence (to add to those of the columned chicken coop and the wallpaper similarity) concerns that doumentary. It was produced by Fred Rappoport. Despite the different spellings of our last names, he is my 3rd cousin! I only met him once, at a party that Lucie Arnaz gave a few years ago, but I knew his family well, having gone to high school with his sister. So my family seems to have been destined to be associated with Lucille Ball's family!


Acknowledgments:

Thanks to:


Copyright © 2023 by William J. Rapaport (59lucylanellc@gmail.com)
file: https://cse.buffalo.edu/~rapaport/Papers/59LL/59LL.html-20230920