Cecil White’s love of thatched roofs emerged early and from simple beginnings: admiration of a picture hanging on the wall in his childhood home, a farm house with a thatched roof. His curiosity about the ancient craft blossomed and eventually led him to pursue training in Bedfordshire England, earning him the title of Master Thatcher.
“Galvanized steel roofs aren’t artistic enough for me,” White stated during a recent working visit to Wessington Springs. “Made from Canadian water reed, thatched roofs are practically immune to water and will last 50-60 years. Plus it’s wonderful to use all natural materials.”
No stranger to Wessington Springs and the original artisan who thatched the Anne Hathaway Cottage roof in 1995, the 82-year-old Master Thatcher’s return to the city by the Foothills was welcomed by the Shakespeare Garden Society.
“He has made several working visits through the years to maintain the roof, and he's always a welcome addition to our community,” stated Susan Arnott, Shakespeare Garden Society board member in the society’s newsletter.
During his early fall visit, White took on interior and exterior restoration of the cottage including cleaning the chimney, installing wall slots, fixing the doors and painting upstairs. He also patched walls throughout and made certain the historic cottage was in good working order for years to come.
One of only three master thatchers in the United States, White also took time to explain the art of the trade to Wessington Springs Elementary School students. He demonstrated the techniques with special tools required to install a quality thatched roof on the south lawn of the cottage.