The Carroll Mansion HistoryJohn McCullough Foster came to Leavenworth, Kansas Territory in 1857, less than three years after the establishment of the town. Twenty-four year old Foster and his wife, Letitia, purchased Lots 8, 9, and 10 on the northwest corner of Fifth Avenue and Middle Street from William and Abby Marshall for $900.00. A carpenter by trade, Foster built the original four-room frame house with a one-story rear kitchen wing on the property. Ten years later, in 1867, Foster added to the house creating a brick Italianate. In 1870 Foster became partners in a lumber yard with A.J. Angell. Although worth $15,000 after the addition, Foster sold the house in August of 1876 to Major David Taylor for $4000. Taylor, who was a United States Army paymaster, died in February 1878 and four years later his widow Mary sold the property to Lucien and Julia Scott for $5,200, in August 1882.
Lucien Scott was the president of the First National Bank of Leavenworth, the president of the Leavenworth Coal Company, and the vice-president of the Kansas Central Railroad. He hired local carpenter George McKenna to expand the house into a sixteen room Queen Anne Victorian mansion. Additions were built on both sides and McKenna added the back of the house, porches were expanded and the roof altered. The interior received elaborately embellished woodwork. New utility services had become available in Leavenworth and plumbing and gas lighting were installed in the dwelling. The Scott’s lavish entertaining made their home one of the city’s social gathering places in the 1880s.
In December 1887 Lucien and Julia Scott sold the property for $20,500 to Edward Carroll, cashier of the Leavenworth National Bank. Mr. Carroll and his wife, Mary Ellen Hunt Carroll and their six children soon moved into the home. Mrs. Carroll died on September 8, 1892, and about two years later, Edward Carroll married Mary J. McGaughan of New York City. The couple and Mr. Carroll's children continued to live in the home. Mr. Carroll died on March 6, 1917 at the age of 75 and the house passed to his widow and two unmarried daughters, Ella and Mary Agnes. Mary McGaughan Carroll died in 1928. Mary Agnes died December 1, 1956. The Carroll family lived in the house for seventy-seven years. Edward's daughter, Ella, donated the home to the Leavenworth County Historical Society in 1964. Miss Carroll moved to the Geriatric Unit of St. John's Hospital where she died on May 3, 1971 at the age of 91.
Leavenworth County Historical Society History
Soon after the Kansas-Nebraska Act was signed in 1854, Leavenworth became the first city of Kansas. When Leavenworth County was organized a year later, several other towns in the vicinity, such as Kickapoo and Delaware, vied with Leavenworth to be awarded the county seat. Leavenworth, awarded that honor, soon became known as the great jumping off place for western travelers. The rapidly growing town represented hope and promise to many pioneers and in many ways, characterized the people who would eventually explore and settle in the West. Few had a realistic idea of the trials that the Great Plains presented. Nevertheless, they saw Leavenworth, the budding river city, everything that beckoned them to an unknown future.
Leavenworth continued growing through the latter years of the 1800s and by the 1880s and 1890s, Leavenworth was the most important manufacturing city in Kansas and one of the largest in the entire United States, boasting sixty-seven prosperous and growing industries. It was third in furniture production in the United States, had the second largest mill-machinery plant in the country, led in the manufacture of stoves, and produced over 250,000 tons of coal per year within the city limits.
The thought of forming a historical society came during the planning of Leavenworth's Centennial Celebration in 1954 when interested citizens realized the rapid destruction of significant Leavenworth landmarks. It was actually the Kiwanis Club, then headed by James Fussell, that helped promote the idea. In the fall of 1954, they announced their sponsorship of a "Historic Essay Contest" in order to motivate public interest in the organization of the Leavenworth Historical Society. Formed in December 1954, with a mission to collect, preserve and share the rich history of Leavenworth County, Miss Ella Carroll was a charter member of the society, who then donated her Victorian home in 1964 for a museum.
As the main repository of history in Leavenworth County, it is the business of the Leavenworth County Historical Society to discover, preserve, and share as much information as possible about Leavenworth County in contrast and comparison to larger themes of the history of the state of Kansas and the United States. Being a historic home museum and county historical society, these larger themes are explored through guided tours, special exhibits, programming, research, and publications.
The Leavenworth County Historical Society Today
Today the Leavenworth County Historical Society boasts a membership of over 300 people and businesses. The museum is open over 270 days of the year, and has an annual visitation of over 6,500 visitors from around the world.
In 2008, the LCHS was approved as a Partnership Historic Site, a program that seeks to recognize and aid non-profit organizations that make a contribution to Kansas history and its interpretation. As a Partnership Site, the LCHS is eligible for Historic Sites Tax Credits. The museum has received grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), a Federal Agency which supports less than 10% of the Nation's Museums. The competition for these awards are great, and the Leavenworth County Museum is only 1 of 11 museums in the entire state of Kansas which has received an award from the IMLS. In 1998, the Society received major grants, totaling over $100,000 from the State of Kansas, the City of Leavenworth and Leavenworth County for the preservation of the museum porches. This was a major renovation project, and will ensure the structural integrity of the building for years to come. The Society received grants over the past ten years from Hallmark Corporation, the State of Kansas, the Kansas Humanities Council for the continuing development of the Everhard photograph collection as well as a grant from the Kansas Heritage Fund.
The LCHS offers assistance with local and family research in Leavenworth County. In addition to filling many reference requests, the Society has provided information to such organizations as National Geographic Magazine, Time-Life Books, The Jeopardy Game Show, a PBS documentary about the Civil War, a History Channel documentary about women in the Civil War, entitled "Full Metal Corset", and several free-lance writers working on fictional and reference material for the Smithsonian and the U. S. Congress. Local and nationally recognized writers utilize museum resources for their published books such as "Appetite for America: How Visionary Businessman Fred Harvey Built a Railroad Hospitality Empire That Civilized the Wild West" by Stephen Fried.
The Carroll Mansion Museum
A visit to the museum allows the visitor to "step back in time" and experience the Victorian era in Leavenworth County. Once the home of four prominent families, the Carroll Mansion features elaborately hand carved woodwork throughout the house, beautiful stained glass windows and elegant antiques from the Victorian era into the early 20th century. The total square footage of the mansion is 6,131 square feet with the living space divided into sixteen rooms. The first floor has a parlor, library, drawing room, dining room, butler's pantry, kitchen, and main hall. In the 20th century a small modern kitchen counter and bathroom were added in a pantry and closet, respectively. A garage was added to the southwest end of the ground floor in the 1930s. The second floor has eight rooms that may have been used as bedrooms as well as two bathrooms. The east bath was updated in the 1920s, while the west bath appears as it did in 1883.
The decorative features of George McKenna are the highlights of the house. Each room has unique stained glass windows and transoms, none of the patterns being repeated. Most rooms have combination gas and electric light fixtures dating from the 1880s. On the first floor, the parlor, hall, library, drawing room, and dining room have individual parquet floor inlays of maple, oak, walnut, and mahogany. Each room has carved decorations that reflect the wood of that room: e.g. walnut in the library, oak in the hall, maple in the parlor. There are five fireplaces in the house. Each has a carved mantle, ceramic inserts, and hearth tiles.
The museum also provides visitors with an overview of the history of Leavenworth County, which can also be researched in the extensive resources located in the museum.