Our county’s history is like a priceless stained
glass window. Each interview, article, and tidbit of information is a
piece of the overall picture.
When apart, the glass is exquisite and beautifully
colored, but pieced together--then we have a true masterpiece.
Our next stop was at the original home of Howard
and Vena Knotts, where truly the collection of delicate pieces of our
stained glass window is a wonderful view.
View of Knotts' Viewpoint from Minnora Cemetery.
Howard Knotts was the eldest son of Joseph and Dora
Knotts, who built the “Mansion House,” featured in a previous article,
in 1905. He obtained property from his father, as did all of the Knotts’
Howard married Vena Westfall, and their property
was approximately 240 acres. They chose a beautiful hilltop to build
their home, which would become known as “Knotts’ Viewpoint.”
Howard and Vena Knotts
A century later, the house continues to protect and
shelter a generation of the Knotts family.
Today, Berdine Knotts Wayne and husband Wheeler
call the house their home. Berdine is the seventh child of Howard and
Vena, who had eight children: Eucle, Ruby, Opal, Raymond, Victor,
Walter, Berdine and Charles.
As we sat in the living room of this lovely old
homestead, Berdine smiled as she explained how her life began in the
home, “In 1925 I was born in this room. At the time, it was my parents’
bedroom, but today it is the living room.”
Though the house was Berdine’s beginning, it was
not Howard and Vena’s. They took to housekeeping in a little house of
only two rooms that still sits on the property.
“Mother always loved that little house,” said
Berdine. “It was tiny, but really all they needed at first.”
Howard and Vena's first homestead.
With a growing family, Howard began building a
house from the same lumber his father was using to build the Mansion
With the help of some of the same craftsmen, such
as Sam Wayne and Harvey Hall, Howard Knotts completed his home in about
1910. It was as lovely as his parents’ house and built just around the
bend on a sunny hilltop. Even today, the view is wonderful.
Nestled between the two mountains and overlooking
the West Fork, the house remains a site to see off of the main route.
Originally, the road ran on the backside of the house, but today Rt. 16
runs directly in front of the home.
A far cry from the two-room house, the new home
offered eight large rooms, six porches, nine entries and 31 windows. The
double fireplaces were all that was needed to warm the downstairs, and
Berdine remembers her mother’s swinging kettle that hung in the
fireplace between the two rooms.
Backside of Knotts' Viewpoint that now faces Route 16.
The walls, floors and high ceilings were made of
tongue and groove walnut and oak. The design, craftsmanship, and detail
can still be viewed in the doors, door frames, handmade mantles, and
The banister rails were unique as they were made
from one of Vena’s dining room tables. The main entryway is still as
open and sunny as it was 100 years ago.
The floor plan has not changed much. The rooms
circle into each other through many doorways that keep the house cool in
the summer and allow warmth to be trapped in the winter, despite the
lack of insulation.
The floors remain untouched and in their original
state, but the walls have been painted, which offers an open and airy
feeling to the rooms. No elegance is lost and the house, though grand in
size, is quite welcoming.
Berdine and Wheeler have worked hard to protect and
sustain the Knotts’ Viewpoint.
Some changes have been necessary. New siding has
been added, two porches have been enclosed, and railings were placed on
the remaining porches.
Overall, the house is still structurally the same.
The basement, which Howard dug by hand, proclaims the ingenuity of long
ago, as it remains dry as a bone.
The porches continue to exude friendliness and
create an atmosphere where a person would like to sit awhile and have a
glass of sweet tea or enjoy a quiet evening watching the fireflies.
Berdine’s stories of the family and events that
took place in the Knotts’ Viewpoint are countless. From pulling taffy,
popping popcorn, and playing hide-n-seek, the walls of this old house
have tales to tell.
“We always had company,” recalls Berdine. “This
house was full of family and friends!”
The Waynes have been married for 60 years. Both are
Calhoun High School graduates. They have one son, Michael, two
grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.
We are sure they all love to visit Berdine and
Wheeler. It would be exciting to sleep in a room that has its own porch
entrance and overlooks the valley.
Also in view are the corncrib, barn, and the
building Howard used as a grocery store in the mid 1900s. Even the
walkway lends to antiquity, as it is lit by gas burning lanterns.
This former grocery store building was made into a garage.
Although we did not spend the night, our morning in
Knotts’ Viewpoint was wonderful.
The fragments of our county’s masterpiece are
coming together. The details are starting to appear. Our stained glass
window is not only beautiful, but also a place to see our past.
The original Knotts’ homes are indeed a piece of
our Calhoun County artwork and history.
The following is from a picture in the hallway of
remembrance of our
from us have
loved are stilled
vacant in our home
can be filled
God in his
wisdom has recalled
The boon his
love had given
their bodies molder here
are safe in heaven.
The legacy of the Knotts family lives on in the
homes and people that remember the days when the Mansion House and
Knotts Viewpoint first graced the valley of the West Fork.
“I am so thankful for the good times I had with my
grandparents and parents and for their Christian heritage. I thank
them,” said Berdine.
Her eyes misted as she spoke of the faith and
labors of her ancestors and family.