The Leavenworth Candlelight Vintage Homes Tour is scheduled for Sunday, December 13, 2015, from 1pm to 7pm. This time honored tradition in historic Leavenworth marks its twenty-fourth year in featuring six vintage homes, the Carroll Mansion Museum and this year, the Richard Allen Cultural Center and Museum, all decorated for the holiday season. Many of the tour stops are either on the National Register of Historic Places or are located within a historic district of Leavenworth. The tour is as much a part of the holiday activities in Leavenworth and the greater Kansas City area as Father Christmas himself. With a reputation as one of the finest holiday homes tour in the area, tour goers come from all over the metropolitan area and beyond, to experience the holiday spirit and compelling connections offered with each tour stop to the unique history of Leavenworth. This eagerly anticipated annual tour is planned by a committee composed of volunteers from both the Leavenworth Vintage Homes Society and the Leavenworth County Historical Society. It is a major fund raiser for the historical society with most tickets ordered in advance for a $12 donation ($17 on tour day) at the Carroll Mansion Museum or downtown at dorMail, The Pot Rack, Candle Queen, June’s Northland, 5th Avenue Frames, Sunflower Sisters Vintage, and the Leavenworth Antique Mall. Tickets are also available on-line at www.leavenworthhistory.org.
The Carroll Mansion Museum is tour headquarters, where the tour begins. As the museum opens earlier on tour day at 11am, a preview of the excitement for the day is clearly apparent as advance-tickets are picked up, the Victorian Gift Shoppe bustles with activity and holiday breads are sold in the Victorian kitchen. The 50th anniversary of the museum, the Edward Carroll House, listed on the the National Register of Historic Places, is celebrated this year and the 16-room mansion has never appeared finer at Christmas. Before the official tour begins at 1pm and throughout the day, tour goers have the opportunity to walk through the house and observe some of Leavenworth’s unique history found in its furnishings. On exhibit will be some of the prints made from the original Everhard Glass Plate Negative Collection, which the Society is attempting to acquire. A visit from Father Christmas is expected and live entertainment is scheduled throughout the day to include: The Recorder Consort, Heritage Singers, and new this year, members of the Kansas City Harp Society with Wujeong Duncan.
The home at 625 Olive Street
has always been recognized as the house Fred Harvey built for his youngest daughter, Sibyl. While she never resided here, the house has always been a part of the must-see Harvey family sites in Leavenworth. The home has retained its original charm with interior oak woodwork, native to Kansas, and original stained glass windows. Current owners, Mike and Mary Stephenson, have furnished the home with period pieces collected from around the world, incorporated with treasured family heirlooms. Over the years, the home has been featured in magazines depicting the lifestyle of the early 1900s and included on several local tours to benefit community organizations. The home is included in the Union Park Historic District where adjacent Union Park was dedicated in December 1870, commemorating the victory of Union forces in the American Civil War.
Significant because of its location in Leavenworth is the two and one-half story foursquare with reversed gabled roof home at 412 Walnut Street. The first residential home of Leavenworth was built just across the street in 1854. Prior to the construction of the house, the land was the site of the Westminister Presbyterian Church, built in the early 1870s and razed in the early 1900s. Now owned by Rebecca and Sam Lex, the house was built one hundred years ago, in 1915, and showcases original hardwood floors, built-in oak buffet and leaded windows.
Newly renovated, the Stove Factory Loft apartments are steeped in history. A small foundry that manufactured parts for steamboats and stoves back in 1857, grew into the Great Western Stove Company by 1875. Headed by E.P. Willson, the company then manufactured coal, wood and gas stoves and ranges of all kinds. The $25 million Stove Factory Lofts development began in 2005, by the Foutch Brothers. Today, the first phase of the renovation has resulted in a 5 story apartment building overlooking the Missouri River on South Esplanade Street. The apartment of Ray and Chelsea Hackler highlights brick walls and wood beams in juxtaposition with modern interior design. The building is within the Leavenworth Downtown Historic Industrial District.
600 Osage Street has long been recognized as the Judge Robert Crozier home. While the original structure, built in 1860 by land agent, real estate broker and attorney, William Ralston, it was in 1882 that Judge Crozier purchased the property and undertook its major renovation. Crozier served as a U.S. Senator and Chief Justice of the Kansas Supreme Court, having arrived in Kansas Territory in 1857 to establish the Leavenworth Daily Times, known today as The Leavenworth Times. The visitor is warmly welcomed by owners, Bonnie Joranko and Mike Burke with an oak bridal staircase in the main entry, oak pier mirror, original woodwork, parquet floors, and stained glass.
The Merritt H. Insley home at 602 Seneca is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was initially constructed in the late 1850s. Renovations were made in the early 1860s by John Kerr, local banker, and in 1866 by Civil War Captain Merritt H. Insley, banker and entrepreneur. Since 1920 the home has been in the family of current owners, Priscilla and Dave Bodde, who have meticulously restored the two-story Italianate to the glory of its Victorian years.
The 311 North Broadway frame home, has offered many secrets to its past history to the current owner, Sally Graham, during various renovations. Hand cast ornate plaster moldings and cornices, not frequently found in Leavenworth homes, can be seen in the living room. Prominent Leavenworthians to reside here included John B. Lamber, at one time a proprietor of the famed Planter’s Hotel and an early settler in 1857. His wife was Mary J. Smith, sister of Leonard T. Smith and Mrs. Jasper S. Rice, also leading citizens. Throughout the home are hardwood floors, a completely remodeled kitchen, French doors, plantation shutters, high ceilings and period architectural details.
From humble beginnings as the home of U.S. Army Captain William Bly, a Buffalo Soldier during World War I, the original structure became the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church before it was opened in 1992 as the Richard Allen Cultural Center & Museum on Kiowa Street. In 2002, a modern addition was built to the front of the home to accommodate additional exhibit space, office and tutoring classrooms. The museum is a treasure trove of history with professionally executed exhibits highlighting artifacts of African American pioneers and members of the military. “Black Dignity” portraiture of the 1870s to 1920s from the Everhard Glass Negative Collection is also on display. The museum is another one of Leavenworth’s best kept secrets.
The LCHS and the Vintage Homes Society cordially invites the public to join them in celebrating the traditional holiday season, in support of the historical society, by joining other tour goers in sampling the Victorian age of Leavenworth. It was here in Leavenworth, that the history of Kansas began and by stepping back in time, the importance of our place in history can be felt. For additional information, visit the LCHS website, email@example.com, their Facebook page listed under Leavenworth County Historical Society, or by calling the museum, 913-682-7759. Most homes are not handicap accessible and the tour goes on regardless of weather.