News-Antique.com - Jul 24,2008 - In Washington D.C., the Capitol Hall of Columns, the White House, and the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials combined feature 96 columns. In Bakersfield, Jack Hendrix has them all beat with his impressive collection spread throughout two historic houses.
"I have over 100 columns from pre-1900 houses," said Hendrix.
"Everybody kids me about it. It's what I'm known for."
His 1892 Victorian, which Hendrix lived in for 18 years, now hosts the Casa de Amigos Community Respite Center, a 28-bed facility for mentally ill young men who are also addicted to drugs or alcohol. He started that business ten years ago, after his retirement from teaching at East Bakersfield High School.
Hendrix then purchased and moved into a 1911 California bungalow-style Arts and Crafts house.
"It has a garden of growing columns," Hendrix said. "People stop at the fence and gawk. They ask, 'Don't you think you've got enough?' Of course! That's the point. I need to go to 12-step to get over this," he joked.
Growing up in Oklahoma, Hendrix remembers the first columns he ever saw.
"I saw a house with big, white columns," he said. "I thought it was a mansion, but it was middle class."
Years later, Hendrix began buyingarchitectural hardware and antiques while traveling the small towns on Route 66.
From those houses Hendrix would bring back beautiful old doors and columns of redwood, plaster trim, marble and cement. Some columns placed inside his houses serve as stands for figurines, another favorite Hendrix collectible. Outside, he has incorporated columns into three gazebos.
"I've always loved columns," Hendrix said. "I wanted a house with them." Now he has two.
Shortly after moving into his Arts and Crafts house, Hendrix built an in-ground backyard swimming pool, but soon regretted that decision.
"I got tired of the pool, like most people said I would," he said. He remembers thinking that he could have filled it in with dirt, but had a different idea.
"I made an apartment," he said. "My dogs and I can live in the pool apartment." Hendrix used several columns in that project, giving it an aged appearance. Stairs descend four feet underground into the 1,000-square-foot abode, which also features vaulted ceilings. A cabana and a berm with stone and plant landscaping complete the exterior.
"My daughter said I was nuts," he said, "but it turned out really cool."
Hendrix first started collecting over 20 years ago with cobalt blue glass. Then came the nuns. "As a kid in rural Oklahoma, I'd never seen a nun," said Hendrix. Then, at eight years old, Hendrix was traveling alone on a bus when two fellow passengers – nuns – befriended him.
"These two lovely women gave me cookies," he recalled. "I'll never forget how sweet they were to me."
Hendrix's collection of nun figurines now numbers over 150 and is displayed prominently in his house. One time, a visitor whom Hendrix did not know was a nun saw the display and shrieked.