Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Visit to the Queen Anne Style Victorian Mansion on Kansas City’s Strawberry Hill

This weekend I had an opportunity to visit a fine example of the Queen Anne style Victorian mansion in nearby Kansas City, Kansas. The mansion was built in 1887 for a prominent attorney name John B. Scroggs and his wife Mary. In 1919 the home was sold to become the St. John’s Orphanage which took in children who had lost their parents to the influenza epidemic that was ravaging the country at the time. For almost 70 years the mansion and later additions was home to thousands of orphaned children and a group of Catholic Sisters who cared for them. In 1988 the orphanage closed and efforts quickly got underway to save the building by converting it into the Strawberry Hill Museum.

Upon arriving at the mansion, I was immediately impressed by the home’s amazing Queen Anne style architectural hallmarks. A spacious veranda wrapped around the entire front of the original house and ornate brick, stone, and wood work enriched its façade. A large stone addition extended from the mansion's northern side was evidence of the more utilitarian purposes that the home would later serve. I was disappointed to learn that a large turret, which is one of the most identifiable trademarks of Queen Anne mansions, had been removed when this addition was added.

I was greeted by a delightful volunteer tour guide who welcomed me as if into her own home. She guided me through the home pointing out the home’s unique features and history. Each first floor room of the original house featured incredibly ornate handcrafted wood work in the form of built in cabinetry, fireplace mantels and paneling. Above every window was a second decorative window featuring Eastlake-style stained glass designs. One of the features that I found most impressive was the massive pocket doors that separated the men’s parlor room from the lady's tea room. These thick solid oak doors had to have been extremely heavy but they slid open and closed with little effort. The tour continued for over an hour. At one of the tour's last stops I learned that this Queen Anne mansion is also consider to be one of Kansas City’s most haunted places.

Speaking of the super natural, Shop 4 Classics sells many antique reproduction hardware items that are eerily similar to the original hardware found in this great house. The ornate Victorian & Waldorf doorplate set from Nostalgic Warehouse would look right at place adorning any of the doors on the elaborately styled first floor where as Nostalgic's simpler New York & Waldorf doorplate set closely resembled the door hardware found on the second floor. Because closets where considered rooms and were therefore taxed, built-in cabinetry was used instead of closets throughout the home. John Wright Company’s Eastlake bin pull is nearly identical to pulls found on some of the second floor built-in cabinetry. Unfortunately, I was not able to get a good look at the window hardware but my guess is that that it would resemble John Wright’s Eastlake sash catch and the Sunburst sash lift from IDH.

1 comment:

  1. I lived there with the Franciscan nuns who ran the place, from 1953-1962. Even in the dark corners of the cellar, which was our "cooler" and further down into the boiler room where the Croatian handyman/driver lived. Never had an occasion to encounter a ghost?

    If there are ghost, then maybe that means the facilities are being mis-used.