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German Military Products WW2

German Military Products WW2

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Published by servinjc
If you are looking for German Military Products WW2 then check out www.edelweissmilitaria.com.
If you are looking for German Military Products WW2 then check out www.edelweissmilitaria.com.

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Published by: servinjc on Jan 03, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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 ==== ====WW2 Reenactment!edelweissmilitaria.com ==== ====Walter Mathis and now, the National Historic Trust, operate the site, Villa Finale in San Antonio'sKing William Historic District. For both local history and European artifacts, culture and art, thehouse is worth an afternoon tour. With much oral history, facts are scarce. The land that Villa Finale sits on was part of an original Spanish land grant to the Canary Islandpioneers. In the not too distant history, the land was arable agrarian land for The Alamo. TheMission de Bexar. Yes, that Alamo. The street that runs a few blocks east of Villa Finale is South Alamo. Runs in front of The Alamo,then follows a course that runs north-south, then east-west, then turns north-south again. Thelocal joke is that cattle paths were used to choose streets. In this case, though, it was a waterway.The strange twists and turns of the local topography was dictated water sources, both natural andmanmade. Walter Mathis would trace part of his family lineage back to the Canary Island pioneers, provingthat Villa Finale was destiny. Standing in the front, looking at the house itself, the style is mid-1850 Italianate. The stylized frontporch and tower were not added until the decade between 1895 and 1905. The fun part, for me, I heard two different salaried curators claim the house was built in 1863 and1873, and from the material, the accepted date was 1873, built by an Englishman named Norton.It was four square, just 4 rooms with a fireplace in each room, the typical quarried limestone withan unfinished surface. Mr. Norton had the front door shipped over from England, intact, a huge,carved door frame and door, with an imposing look. In a neighborhood that was largely - namedKing William - mercantile German class, he was the solo English holdout. Norton lost the house to foreclosure, and it changed hands two more times, with the last family inthe 1890s not leaving without a fight. During that time, the back section of the house, a large kitchen and cellar, was added. And we haven't even stepped inside yet. There are two magnificent lions flanking the front walk. Walter Mathis was a Leo, but no, thosewere Victorian affectations, as were two ceremonial cannons. Mr. Mathis told tales about the earlydays when the neighborhood was rough, he would wake to find his cannons dragged across the
yard, resting against the fence, as they were really too heavy to lift over. Standing in the front yard, on the front walk, it is near-impossible to imagine that it was a seedy, or"bad," neighborhood. One of my clients, grew up maybe two miles south, as he was growing up,he was admonished to "Stay out of trouble, stay out of King William!" Looking a the stately treesand elegant mansions, it's hard to believe. San Antonio has two primary industries, military and hospitality. At the end of World War One, thename for the district was changed, the King Wilhelm was none too popular. Returning troops werefrequently billeted in the grand mansions, and Villa Finale itself was cut up into 8 apartments. By the early 1960s, the neighborhood was in a sad state. In the ensuing interval, facts are sketchy,but Villa Finale had been a bawdy house, an illicit casino, a speakeasy, and a bordello. WalterMathis denied the bordello to his dying day, but I heard it from a sweet little old lady in theneighborhood. She was instructed never to walk on that side of the street - her parents were afraidshe would be pressed into service. In the mid-sixties, Mr. Mathis could tell his then-current home was in the path of the city's first bigfreeway project, 281. He moved his nascent arts and architecture collection into storage andbegan searching for a new home. The 'Villa Finale' name was chosen because he wanted it to behis last home. It was. He bought the place in 1967, starting renovations immediately, but he lived downtown in a hoteluntil partway through the project. The "Fire & Casualty" insurance companies often did plats of the land. In one from 1894, VillaFinale had no porch and no tower, while both did show up in the 1905 plat. The porch and towerwere added were added in the interim, but not enough data surveys to be more exact. Theinsurance companies did the plats so there was a map for ingress for the volunteer firedepartments, in the event of fire. At the front porch, the Norton entrance is marveled, then guests are instructed to pull on booties,durable yet protective slippers to help preserve what Walter Mathis built. The ceiling on the frontporch is painted sky blue, and while it is patent folklore, the reason is to keep the mosquitoesaway. Allegedly. The entrance, the hall and entrance is marked by an overwhelming amount of art. It was his wishthat everything be left where he placed it. There are over 12,000 objects in the collection. For thelast few years of his life, a National Historic Trust person acted as a personal curator and carefullynoted most of the tales associated with the various collections. On December 8, 1941, Walter Mathis went over to Randolph Army Base and signed up as pilot.He went on to fly (purported) 96 mission over occupied Europe -WW2 - facts and myths. One of the most famous collections is the Napoleon Collection. Entering the hallway, then leadingto the first door on the right, careful not to touch anything, under the tower, there, is the beginningof the collection. 
It's worth noting that Mr. Mathis wanted a home filled with music. To that end, in the middle of thefront room, under that tower, there is a, forgive my bad German, "Bechstein-Weltz" reproducingpiano. "Like a player piano?" Yes, and no. It is a German machine that looks like piano, has mechanical innards, and ran - runs- on an air compressor that Mr. Mathis located in the basement. I've been told that the piano still runs, think of it as a steam-driven piano. The difference is that agreat composer or pianist would sit down and record a performance on a roll of paper, and thatwas played. Cabinet, far left, stage left, over in the corner, had scroll and rolls of paper for thepiano. Turn of the century iPod. The paper rolls were the mp3s. Asked what single object he would grab, if the house was on fire, Walter Mathis was proudest ofhis "genuine" Napoleon death mask. "One of six," is the party line. Apparently, there is a History Channel special about the cottage industry of Napoleon DeathMasks. Worthy of some attention. Seems like there might be more than just a half-dozen. It'sworth noting that this was one of the few originals, probably less than a dozen like it - provenancewith museum curators is tricky business. Napoleon was a favorite, and towards that end, Villa Finale is now part of the Franco-Bexar group,as there are more Napoleon memorabilia here than in most museums. As a military man, WalterMathis admired Napoleon's tactics. The cabinets, the table-tops, the furniture itself, most, if not all, Empire-Revival. French, fromaround 1840. The "Egyptian" flavor is woven into the art, after all, Napoleon did "conquer" Egyptand some of the Pan-Arab world. Because I was being trained when the house was being restored, I got to see a few things off thewall, like a ceremonial sword and scabbard arrangement that hangs high, like an Xmas tree star,over one set of Napoleon lithographs. "Sheer panic in the curator's eyes when she pulled that one down; it really is held together withtwine." The windows now have UV coating the prevent fading. New paint, and everything has beencleaned and replaced in its original pace, per the behest and bequest. Most of the furniture in the front rooms has been recovered, by Mathis, with one exception, there'sa green ottoman/footstool that is in the original material from the 1840s. Note the large mirror overthe mantle. Next room, more Napoleon collections, mirror over the mantle, odd military objects, acollections of dog figurines, various tokens, souvenirs, and my favorite, a pair of ivory-carvedtriptychs, which unfold and show Napoleon's victories and his wife, which shows her greatestaccomplishment, marrying Napoleon. "I hope you find the humor there," I add.

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