Candlelight Vintage Homes Tour: A Leavenworth Tradition

History of LCHS homes tours                                                                      

   In observance of the Centennial of Kansas in June 1961, the Leavenworth County Historical Society, yet in its infancy (having been founded in the Centennial year of Leavenworth 1954) hosted an historic homes tour.  Featuring five historic homes and the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, tour headquarters became the Cody Hotel.  According to the Lawrence Journal World, European and oriental antiques could  be viewed along with early American furnishings at 519 N. Broadway (then home to Mr. & Mrs. D.R. Anthony III), 221 Arch (Col. & Mrs. O.E. Schanze), 409 N. Esplanade (Mr. & Mrs. John Brock Taylor), 501 N. Esplanade (Mr. & Mrs. Ormond Leavel, Jr.), and 517 Chestnut (Miss Rose T. McKee).  Mrs. Taylor was the chairman of the tour committee and sponsor was The First National Bank.   Tour proceeds in 1961 were designated for the establishment of a museum in Leavenworth.

Today, a little more than 50 years later, these historic homes are occupied by new caregivers.  Both the Immaculate Conception Cathedral and the Cody Hotel are but a memory.  The Cathedral burned to the ground December 31 of 1961,  and the hotel was torn down and replaced with Cody Plaza Apartments.  Homes that once were on that first homes tour have been featured at one time or another in the past 20 years for what has become known as the annual Leavenworth Candlelight Vintage Homes Tour, held on the second Sunday each December.  A museum for Leavenworth County became a reality and has been in existence for nearly  50 years.  Tour proceeds continue to benefit the museum.

2012 Leavenworth Homes Tour                                                                                                  

   Historically, the vintage homes tour brings hundreds of visitors from far and wide  to view festively decorated historic homes of Leavenworth, First City of Kansas.  The 21st  Leavenworth Candlelight Vintage Homes Tour, to occur Sunday, December 9th  from 1pm to 7pm, promises to be no exception.  The Carroll Mansion Museum, home of the historical society and  listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, is the headquarters for the tour, which it co-sponsored with the Leavenworth Vintage Homes Society.  The 2012 tour is dedicated to the memory of past LCHS director/curator, Joanie Kocab.    This year, as in years past,  local vintage homes offer the opportunity for tour goers to step back in time and experience a traditional Victorian Christmas.  St. Paul Lutheran Church and School are also a part of the tour, as they commemorate 150 years in Leavenworth.  This year’s tour is headed by Trish Klima with committee members Shirley Stieger, Carolyn Akins, Bobbie Bower, Mary Stephenson and B. J. Hanson.

  The Carroll Mansion Museum, 1128 Fifth Ave.

One of the best preserved Victorian homes in the state is the Carroll Mansion , home to five families from 1857 to 1975 before it was donated by Miss Ella Carroll to the Leavenworth County Historical Society as a museum.    This year the museum is featuring four local musical groups: Recorder Consort,  Don & Mim Carlson, and the Heritage Singers, from noon to 6pm on tour day.  Special tour exhibits throughout the museum will feature treasures representing local historical residents, such as an antique collection of men’s shaving mugs,  vintage photos, quilts,  DR Anthony, local newspaper magnate, family heirlooms,  and a representation of vintage clothing.  The Victorian Shoppe at the museum will offer an assortment of unique gifts and Christmas items during the tour hours.  Also available in the Victorian kitchen are homemade holiday breads for purchase.

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