The 23rd Annual Leavenworth Candlelight Vintage Homes Tour is scheduled for Sunday, December 14, 2014 from 1pm to 7pm. As in past years, the tour headquarters will be at the Carroll Mansion Museum, 1128 Fifth Avenue, home of the Leavenworth County Historical Society. The museum will open at 11am for tour goers to pick up their tickets and view the house, decorated for the holidays and which features a special WWI exhibit this year. The museum’s Victorian Gift Shoppe will also be open; holiday breads will be available for sale in the kitchen and live entertainment is scheduled throughout the day.
While Leavenworth history abounds in each of the stops on this year’s tour, the Christmas theme is always the highlight. From the very grand mansions to a simple cottage for a Leavenworth laborer, the tour goer will enjoy a cross-section of vintage Leavenworth homes dressed in holiday luxury. Six private residences are on the tour as well as the First Missionary Baptist Church at 800 W. 7th St. and the Leavenworth High School, 2012 Tenth Avenue, both of which are celebrating milestone anniversaries. The charter for the church was granted in 1874, one hundred forty years ago, which established it as the First Missionary Baptist and now oldest Baptist church in the state of Kansas.
Leavenworth High School commemorates the 150th anniversary since their founding. An early superintendent’s report noted that the high school was begun as an experiment but had no graduates. Examinations were held and many students were graded lower than expected, prompting a general displeasure among students and parents with the faculty, who subsequently found themselves unemployed. Finally, by 1871, Leavenworth High graduated a class of students, the first in Kansas. The high school open house will be from 11am to 1:30pm on tour day.
Nathan & Mae Holman were once owners of the home at 2304 Maple Avenue. Nathan was a member of the Holman Family Nursery, whose custom was to deliver Christmas trees to city and Fort Leavenworth homes on Christmas Eve, first with a team of mules and wagon and later by fuel powered vehicles. The current owner of the home cleverly weaves her antique collections into her Christmas décor.
A picturesque piece of Leavenworth history at 122 Spruce Street tastefully blends the ambience of the past with the present. Located one block west of Esplanade Street, the two story simple Victorian is situated on a corner lot on the fringe of the Historical District, in the Clark and Rees Addition. Built in 1885 by Benjamin F. Taxler, a grain commissioner, the home has undergone extensive remodeling, bringing back the quiet simplicity and beauty of the old house.
A stucco Italianate at 1021 S. 5th Street was built in 1859, where one of the more famous residents of Leavenworth lived, H. Miles Moore, one of the founders of Leavenworth and author of the “History of Early Leavenworth City and County” in 1907.
In the Arch Street Historic District, the Tudor style home at 211 Arch Street was built by E.P. Willson, founder of the Great Western Stove Company. Later, during the residence of long-time Leavenworth physician, Dr. Ralph G. Combs and his wife, Helen Schott, a tree planted at the birth of their first grandchild, as was the German tradition, was always decorated at Christmas time. Today, the home is undergoing a major renovation and serves as the “before” in the process.
A number of residents, whose occupations ranged from tailors and bookkeepers to painters and firefighters called 918 Sherman Avenue home over the years. Some worked in a family business while others were employed by the Great Western Stove Company in Leavenworth.
The vintage homes tour would not be complete without a home on Leavenworth’s once famed “millionaires row”. Built in the Romanesque Classical Revival style the spacious residence at 307 North Broadway is a true delight during the holiday season. With a distinct French chateau flavor, current owners have incorporated pieces acquired in their world travels into the décor.
The homes tour is organized by the Leavenworth Vintage Homes Society in cooperation with the historical society, the beneficiary. The Society celebrates its 60th year of existence as a non-profit organization for the collection and preservation of Leavenworth County history. The Carroll Mansion, listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, has been their home for 50 years. For ticket information, call the museum: 913-682-7759 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Homes are pictured on the website at www.leavenworthhistory.org. For a donation of $12, advance tickets may be secured. On tour day, the donation is $17.