From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.
The Leavenworth Art League met on Monday at the Leavenworth Historical Museum, 334 5th Ave.
Mrs. Gorman Hunt, in talking about the Carroll home, now the Historical Museum, made the early years of that brick structure take on historical significance which grew as the city of Leavenworth grew.
Awareness of the rapid destruction of the significant landmarks of Leavenworth, the oldest city in Kansas, was a chief factor in the organization of the Historical Society. As a charter member, and one of its most ardent boosters, Mrs. Hunt with others early realized the need for a permanent--and convenient--home where the membership would not drop in proportion to the stairs that had to be climbed for each meeting!
Much gratitude is due the younger members of the Carroll family, who planted the modern "mustard seed" which grew into the gift of her home to the society by Miss Ella Carroll.
The original house faced south; the present dining room served as the living room; the "square room" as the dining room. Those original narrow stairs would have pleased Thomas Jefferson who lamented the space taken by stairs and halls, even in Williamsburg. The bath room in the west part of the home, to this member, is a unique feature of truly historical value.
The Foster family, original owners, built their home away from the rough, raw town where it was surrounded by farm land. Soon others bought part of the farm. The Faladori-McConnel home was built on part of it; and Mrs. Cushing purchased land for the original Home of the Friendless, later to develop into Cushing Memorial Hospital.
When the Foster family left to make their home in Kansas City, Lucien Scott, a banker, took over the property. In 1880 the house was expanded. The stained glass windows were imported from France and installed, but all of the beautiful wood paneling was native oak, except that of the mantels of the fireplaces. That was native ash, and easier wood for carving. In the library, native walnut was used.
One can easily imagine the gorgeously gowned ladies ascending and descend those spacious front stairs at the grand house warming party, when the downstairs was used for dancing, and dinner was served on the second floor.
In 1888, the Carrolls moved into the home, but Mrs. Carroll, a diabetic, had but a short time to enjoy living there. She soon followed her son Charles in death.
Later, Mr. Carroll, in the tradition of the day, without breathing a word of hi intentions to his teen aged children, returned from an Eastern trip with the second Mrs. Carroll. In the midst of the surprise, and no doubt resentment, Miss Ella stepped forward and welcomed the stranger. She had always had faith in the adage that father knew best, and for that act of courtesy she received twice as much as the other children in her father's will.
While she lived on Fifth Avenue, Miss Carroll was always present at early mass at the Sacred Heart Church, acting as sacristan for the altar for 63 years. Now she is living at St. John Hospital.
With the house, she presented a five-year insurance policy with a $45,000 valuation. Now the value of the insurance stands at $250,000 with the melodeon on the second floor living room alone valued at $2,500. yet that insurance in no way covers the complete value of the museum and its contents.
The north bedroom upstairs contains some of the original Hunt-Carroll furniture. The walnut bedroom pieces with marble tops were typical of the period when exquisite furniture was brought up by barges on the Missouri River. The first Mrs. Carroll was the daughter of the commandant at the Fort, the aunt of Mr. Gorman Hunt.
The kitchen has been restored to the period of the Foster's. The old grocery store was found near Easton, abandoned in an old garage. To look at the bank, one can easily place Mr. Scrooge and Mr. Crachett on those tall stools.
After Mrs. Hunt's talk, members of the Art League toured the Museum. Refreshments were served in the "square room." A Mexican drawn work cloth covered the serving table, with a cut glass punch bowl balanced by one large candle with Christmas holly and nylon pompons. Mrs. John Malone poured.
Hostesses were Mrs. Ralph Moore, Mrs. Dan Delaney and Mrs. Julius Kaaz.