Friday, June 16, 2017

Touring W.K. Kellogg Manor House

Our tour guide, Gail, shared a lot of interesting information about W.K. Kellogg and his summer "cottage", and what she didn't cover was in two books published about the residence.  The larger book on the left was gifted to me by my friend, Lori, on my 6/13 visit, and the one on the right was purchased during my 2002 visit. If you have never been to Kellogg Manor, it's definitely worth a visit.  If you can't visit, take the house tour on my blog.

In the photo below, Gail was standing in the entry way/main foyer of the summer residence owned by cereal king, W.K. Kellogg, [W.K. stands for Will Keith] and his second wife, Dr. Carrie Staines Kellogg.  His first wife and mother of his five children, Ella Osborn Davis, died in 1912.  He outlived both wives and three children, and died in 1951 at 91 years of age in Battle Creek. Cause of death was heart failure.

The Kellogg's spent their winters in Pamona, California where W.K. had a 377 acre Arabian horse ranch, that grew to 813 acres.  The land is now the Kellogg Campus of California State Polytechnic University, where W.K. is recognized with its founders.

From the foyer we went into the dining room. Gail told us the house was originally furnished by interior designers at Marshall Field's in Chicago, one of Mr. Kellogg's favorite stores. When he realized he would no longer occupy the house, he gave some of the furnishings to family members and the rest was sold, with the exception of two tapestries and some light fixtures. Using photographs of original furnishings, similar antiques were acquired as replacements throughout the house.

The dining room has an ornamental plaster ceiling, stained glass bay windows, carved limestone fireplace, and oak paneled walls. President Hoover dined here in the 1930's. Through the French doors on the right is a small screened dining porch that the Kellogg's used for breakfast and/or lunch on warm, sunny, summer days.

Across the hall and close to the kitchen is the breakfast room.  Kellogg's Corn Flakes would have been served here often! ;-) The flooring is Rookwood tiles, from a Cincinnati-based company known for their Arts and Crafts designs. 

I loved the framed Kellogg cereal advertisements on the walls.

Since the kitchen was bustling with workers preparing for our Afternoon Tea, it was not included in the tour.  From the breakfast room we went upstairs and toured guest bedrooms, the two master bedrooms, bathrooms, and sleeping porches.

W.K. was a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and had a fondness for the number 7, which in the Bible is the number signifying completion.  He considered seven  his lucky number, because he was the seventh son, of a seventh child, born on the seventh day of the week and the seventh day of the month.  The name Kellogg has seven letters, and he had seven grandsons, and his father was born in 1807.  Thus, he instructed his architect to include seven in the architecture throughout the house: seven wooden panels in the front door, seven rows of coffered oak in the entry ceiling, seven bay windows in the living room, a wall of seven windows in the library, seven hand-hewn oak beams on the vaulted ceiling in the billiard room, and originally the house had seven bedrooms and seven bathrooms.  Also original to the house is a large Flemish tapestry with a hunt scene that features seven figures.  

Below is the first bedroom and bathroom at the top of the main staircase.

All the bathrooms had Rookwood tiling in soft colors - green and mulberry, gray and blue, yellow and black, and white and rose.

Boy's bedroom [below], with a nearby back stairway, handy for running up and down!

Carrie's bedroom in picture below.  She and W.K. had separate bedrooms that were joined by a bathroom and his office.  She bartered for a Skinner pipe organ in the living room in exchange for the smaller of the two master bedrooms! 

A photo of the couple that hung in one of the rooms. 

Bathroom between Carrie and W.K's bedrooms. 

Below is W.K.'s office on the other side of the adjoining bathroom.  There were several family pictures hanging on the walls in his office, but the sunlight streaming through all the windows created too much glare to get good photographs, as evidenced in the portrait of W.K. below.

Gail said W.K. Kellogg was the Dr. Oz of his day, even though his brother was the physician.

I couldn't resist getting a picture of a beautiful tea set.

Two sleeping porches that were never used as sleeping porches.  Carrie used her's as an office after W.K. had an air conditioning unit installed.  The first sleeping porch pictured below was off Carrie's room and the other is off W.K.'s room.  I had never heard of a sleeping porch until I toured Henry and Clara Ford's Fairlane mansion where one was off their master bedroom.  In the days before air-conditioning, the porches were cooler for sleeping in than the bedrooms.

W.K.'s bedroom is pictured below. Gail told us Mr. Kellogg occasionally liked to visit the home of his employees unannounced.  One day on such a visit he found the children playing on a cold floor. It bothered him to the extent that the next day he had a big rug delivered so the chidren could play on carpeting.  In 2000 Kellogg Manor received a phone call from the family telling the story, and offering to return the rug to be placed in the house. It's the rug pictured in W.K.'s bedroom.

~ Guest Bedroom ~

Another interesting tidbit that Gail shared with us was W.K. had experienced a couple of devastating fires in his life. The first was the Battle Creek Sanitarium [or "San" as it was called] in 1902, and second was his first Kellogg factory in 1907, so this house was structurally built of steel and concrete to make it fireproof.  Below is one of the heavy metal roof tiles. 

The piece of exercise equipment below was in one of the bathrooms.  It was used at the sanitarium which was a world famous, state-of-the-art health spa for elites.

At the far end of the second floor was the billiard room.  In addition to a billiard table, the room had a radio, a game table, and high-backed chairs that were often arranged "theater style" so the family could watch home movies as well as Hollywood movies.

~ Fireplace in Billiard Room ~

~ Seven beams on billiard room ceiling. ~

After touring the second floor, we came down the English Gothic main staircase that took two years to carve by hand.

Library on the first floor with walnut cabinetry and leaded glass doors.

Then it was time to go into the sunken living room for our Afternoon Tea.  The 20 x 40 foot room is the largest in the house.  It has a Rookwood tile fireplace at one end [see living room photos from yesterday's post], an ornamental rose and thistle plaster ceiling with cherry beams. The 7-section stained glass bay window has a lake view.  The two light fixtures at each end are original.  And a screened porch on the south side of the living room was a place where the Kelloggs would relax in the evenings listening to radio programs.    

This concludes the tour of the house.  I'm sure there were many things I missed, but at least you have an idea of what a beautiful "summer cottage" the Kellogg's enjoyed.  The inclusive cost was $747,000 in 1925-26.  We didn't have time to tour the grounds which include the carriage house, greenhouse and orchards, authentic Dutch windmill and gardens, and descending staircase that leads to the lakeshore and pagoda.  That would probably require another full afternoon.

I found W.K. Kellogg's life very inspirational.  He only had an eighth grade education and completed courses at Parson's Business College in adulthood.  He was an avid reader who never stopped learning. His childhood school teacher considered him a very poor student because he had trouble seeing the blackboard. When he was 20 he discovered he was nearsighted.  His older brother, John Harvey Kellogg, was thought of as the bright one.  He was the Physician-in-Chief at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, but over time W.K. surpassed him in accomplishments.  W.K. worked at the sanitarium for 26 years doing various tasks, before branching out on his own in 1906 to create the Kellogg [Cereal] Company.  

Perhaps the greatest thing that can be said of him is that he had a philosophy of giving back, by using his wealth for the betterment of others - particularly children. He advocated education as the key element for a higher standard of living, and gave generously to that end. His philanthropic endeavors led to the creation of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in 1934 where he made the statement: "It is my hope that the property that kind Providence has brought me may be helpful to many others, and that I may be found a faithful steward."  

So the next time you eat a bowl of Kellogg's Corn Flakes for breakfast, you'll know a little bit about the man who created those tasty flakes, and all the good he did for his fellow man.  


  1. What a beautiful house and a lovely setting for tea - and what an amazing man Mr. Kellogg was. I learned a good deal about him from this post.

  2. This is fascinating for so many reasons — the beautiful home, the kindness and character of the Kelloggs, that story about the rug ... what a fun post!


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