FIDDLE HOUSE (constructed 1944)
"Although he may be better known for the 'World’s Largest Totem Pole,' Ed Galloway’s first and continuous love throughout his life was wood. From his first creations of buttons as a child to his gigantic sculptures that brought him to the brink of national recognition, to his later years constructing fiddles and inlay pictures, Galloway had an enduring love affair with wood. He would pick up samples from everywhere he traveled, and eventually the children he had taught for 20 years at the Charles Paige Home for Children, would grow up to become servicemen and travelers, bringing samples of wood from all over the world.
"Built in 1944, the Fiddle House is an eleven-sided structure that resembles a Navajo hogan that originally utilized a monitor roof to provide sunlight during the daytime. It was originally called his Grape House because of the grapevine motif that runs throughout the building. It is said that this was built partially at the urging of his wife Villie. Mr. Galloway steadily made so many carvings and fiddles that their little house could no longer hold them.
"The rest of this guidepost will take place inside the Fiddle House, so go ahead and walk inside if you’d like. This structure served as a showplace and museum for visitors traveling along Highway 28A. In an article from 1957, the place was teeming with literally hundreds of fiddles, inlaid pictures, and household furniture along with a can of canes that Galloway would sell and give to visitors. One of his final inlay projects of which he seemed especially proud, was a depiction of all the presidents of the United States up to John F. Kennedy. Unfortunately, these were all stolen from the Fiddle House along with countless other treasures after his death in 1962.
"Always the teacher, Galloway used the inlaid fiddles to be a teaching guide for woods across the world. If you’ll notice, he has each fiddle number coded to correspond to the description of the type of wood on a placard. In one of his recorded interviews with his son, Galloway identifies several of the exotic woods he used in the fiddles. It is very apparent the Galloway had an encyclopedic understanding of woods, their uses, and their origins.
"On the interior walls of the Fiddle House, you can see a series of murals that depict nature scenes, many of them in what seemed to be fishing scenes from the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. These murals are of historical importance because they are the best remaining examples of the colors Galloway used for the Totem Pole Park that have not been retouched. When the Kansas Grassroots Arts Association started a massive restoration project at the park in the late 80s, these murals were instrumental in matching what colors of paint to use for the rest of the park.
"In keeping with Ed Galloway’s original rule, admission is not charged for the Totem Pole Park, but a donation will help the park maintain the splendor it had when Ed Galloway was still alive.
"Before we leave you, we wanted to include the last words Ed Galloway said to his son before his death in 1962. 'If you stay with the 10 Commandments and listen to what it says, God will lay his hand on you and he will build you up. Because it says in the Bible, "Seek and you shall find and hark and it’ll be given unto you." So you’ve got to seek for these things, they won’t come to you. You’ve got to seek for ‘em; you’ve got to use your mind, and build it up, and seek for these things. ‘Cause, they’re the most essential thing you’ll have through life.'"
"Totem Pole Park Audio Tour," written by Tim Brown, commissioned by Dr. Carolyn Comfort and the Rogers County Historical Society.
The 1944 Fiddle House is "one of the hallmarks of the park; this building was constructed as Ed Galloway's woodwork 'museum'. The eleven-sided building faces north, toward State Highway 28. The low pitched, hipped roof is covered with composition shingles, as was the historic roof. There is no overhang. From the center of the roof rises an eleven-sided, low-pitched monitor roof, with composition shingles and wood siding. Seven of the sides have rectangular, single-light, wood-frame windows. The building is constructed of rock and steel, covered over with thick concrete plastering. At each of the corners (there are thirteen) is an engaged column carved in shallow relief, painted, with figures, like a totem pole. Eleven of these are carved and painted bird figures, but at the due southwest and due southeast corners, the columns are trees, with branches that project outward; on each branch sits a carved owl. The front five panels of the building have windows that are festooned with painted grapevines and leaves. The front of the building is the widest 'wall". having a thirty-five-light wood door flanked by 18x18 single-hung, wood-frame windows. The wall panels to the east and west of the entrance also have 18x18 single-hung, wood-frame windows. All windows have concrete sills. The remaining six panels have no openings. On the due east and due west, panels are painted oval bust-portraits of Native American men; on the two southmost panels are areas that resemble a raised frame, apparently prepared for portraits but never finished by Galloway. The two other panels are blank. Except for the portraiture, the six rear walls are plain brown concrete."
"The interior of the Fiddle House is decorated as well. A new sheet-rock drop ceiling has a rectangular opening to admit light from the monitor roof. There are thirteen engaged columns at the corners. Twelve are carved and painted as bird totems, and one is a tree trunk. The six unwindowed walls are covered with murals, four depicting mountain-and-lake scenes. The windowed walls have grapevine motifs festooning the windows. The roof is supported by four centrally placed cylindrical columns; two are tree trunks with bird motifs and two are bird totems."
Everett, Dianna. "Ed Galloway's Totem Pole Park." National Register of Historic Places. 27 July 1998. Certified 25 January 1999.
Vintage FIDDLE HOUSE - Photos Courtesy the Rogers County Historical Society - Totem Pole Park Archives