Tag Archives: Independence

Vaile Mansion, Decorated for Christmas

Vaile Mansion, Independence, Missouri, in Snow Poster

Vaile Mansion, Independence, Missouri.

Each Christmas season, the Vaile Mansion in Independence, Missouri, is lavishly decorated for Christmas in a Victorian style. I recently toured the beautiful mansion with a friend, who had visited the mansion when it was decorated for a previous Christmas season. Each Christmas season’s decor is different, based on a Victorian theme. This year was a Victorian Christmas Romance. Some of the themed rooms, all decorated by different designers, were Phantom of the Opera, Sunflowers and Music, coordinated by the Vaile Victorian Society. Mother Nature added her own touch with a blanket of snow on the lawn. It was all gorgeous!

The Vaile Mansion in Independence, Missouri, is decorated every Christmas season, coordinated by the Vaile Victorian Society, with a Victorian theme and is open for tours.


The follow information about the Vaile Mansion is from three separate sources, which I have linked at the bottom:

Built by Colonel and Mrs. Harvey M. Vaile in 1881, the Vaile Mansion was “the most princely house and the most comfortable home in the entire west,” the Kansas City Times reported in 1882. Situated on North Liberty Street, a mile north of the historic Independence Square, according to the Vaile Mansion’s website.

The three-story Gothic-like mansion includes 31 rooms, 9 marble fireplaces, spectacular painted ceilings, flushing toilets. This mansion is one of the best examples of Second Empire style architecture in the United States. The Vaile Mansion was designed by Kansas City architect Asa Beebe Cross (1826–1894) in the Second Empire style; its design was reportedly inspired by a large house visited by Vaile and his wife Sophie in Normandy. The mansion is constructed of hand-pressed red brick, partially trimmed with white limestone.

Servant gossip and a local newspaper reporter’s description in 1882 of the mural on the ceiling over Colonel Vaile’s bed caused tongues to wag in Independence, Missouri. An Italian artist painted the mural titled “Innocence” of a woman rising from a bed. Part of her anatomy is revealed, which was the cause of the scandalous talk.

The mansion features thirty-one rooms with fourteen-feet-high ceilings decorated by French, German, and Italian artists. All of the original furniture was auctioned off when the estate left the Vaile family (the house was refurnished by the Vaile Victorian Society after 1983); however, the interiors still boast much of the original paintwork, nine marble fireplaces (one of which cost $1,500), and two of the three original chandeliers, originally intended for the White House (Harvey Vaile was able to purchase them for $800 while he was in Washington, D.C., because there was some flaw in them). State-of-the-art amenities original to the house include speaking tubes, gasoliers, indoor running hot and cold water, and flush toilets; equipped with a built-in 6,000 gallon water tank, the Vaile Mansion was the first house in Jackson County with indoor plumbing.

This chandelier — or upside down — Christmas tree hangs in the entry of the Vaile Mansion in Independence, Missouri.

The mansion was originally surrounded by a 630-acre estate (now reduced to 5.6 acres), which included a grape vineyard and an apple orchard. Vaile had a wine processing plant on his property, as well as a wine cellar capable of holding 48,000 gallons.

A “strong supporter of the abolitionism movement” with a passion for politics, Vaile was among the founders of the Republican Party in Jackson County. Vaile built his wealth by investing in several business ventures, primarily interests in the construction of the Erie Canal; he was also part-owner and operator of Star Mail routes, with rights for the route to Santa Fe.

Sophie Vaile died in 1883. Her husband lived in the house for 12 years afterward. The Vailes were childless, and Colonel Vaile bequeathed the mansion to a college. Relatives contested the will. The mansion turned into a retirement home until it was purchased after the owner’s death by Roger and Mary Mildred Dewitt, who gifted the mansion to the city of Independence in 1983. That year neighbors formed the Vaile Victorian Society, and they’ve been meticulously restoring, decorating and caring for the house ever since.

Vaile Victorian Mansion Official Website.

About the Vaile Mansion.

Mansion Visitors Have Themselves a Scandalous Victorian Christmas.

Scenes from the 2018 Vaile Mansion Victorian Christmas Romance. Each room is decorated, even the bathrooms.

 

 

The Ladies’ Parlor features one of a pair of chandeliers, original to the mansion, that were intended for the White House. The White House staff rejected the chandeliers, because they didn’t match. Vaile was able to purchase them for $800 while on a visit to Washington, D.C.

Click on any photo below to see a large size.

 

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Filed under Architecture, Christmas, History, Holidays, Kansas City, Photography

Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum

Replica of the Harry S. Truman Oval Office in the White House, which is an exhibit in the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum Independence, Missouri.

My daughter and I recently visited the museum and library of Harry S. Truman, the 33rd United States president, which is in Independence, Missouri. Independence adjoins Kansas City.

I’d only been to this museum and library one time before, which is shamefully negligent of me, considering it’s only about half an hour from my house and I was an American history graduate student.

Many people make much longer journeys to visit this library, which is very well done and full of fascinating information.  On the day we visited, a majority of the license tags on cars in the parking lot were from states other than Missouri and Kansas.

I haven’t been totally remiss in my Truman travels. I’ve visited the Winter White House in Key West, Florida, where Truman spent 175 days during his nearly eight years as president, and I’ve toured his Independence home and the grounds of his family farm in Grandview, where Truman spent most of his youth. I’ll post those photos in another post.

Your first sight in the library is a mural by another prominent Missourian, Thomas Hart Benton. Then the next stop is a replica of Truman’s Oval Office in the White House. He held press conferences in the original Oval Office, until it became too crowded with reporters and photographers.  Much happened during Truman’s presidency (1945–1953), including the end of World War II, the beginning of the CIA, NATO, the beginning of the Korean War and the Cold War. 

Truman was Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s vice president and assumed the presidency when Roosevelt died April 12, 1945.  World War II was still raging.   

Roosevelt’s wife Eleanor informed Truman of her husband’s death: “Harry, the president is dead.”

He asked if there was anything he could do for her, to which she replied, “Is there anything we can do for you? For you are the one in trouble now.”

One level of the museum section of the library focuses on Truman’s presidential history, while another level features exhibits about his life before and after the presidency. Scholars can do research in the library. 

The Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum is also the resting place of Truman and his wife Bess,  as well as their daughter Margaret and her husband Clifton Daniel.  The library is located on U.S. Highway 24 in Independence, not far from the house where Truman lived most of his adult life. It was the first presidential library to be created under the provisions of the 1955 Presidential Libraries Act, and is one of thirteen presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

The library’s replica of the Oval Office is a feature that has been copied by the Lyndon B. Johnson, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, William J. Clinton, and George W. Bush libraries.

Harry S. Truman had to make many critical decisions during his presidency 1945-1953.

During Harry S. Truman’s presidency: “The Buck Stops Here” sign was on Truman’s desk, meaning that he wasn’t going to ‘pass the buck” (decision) on to someone else; The end of World War II depicted in a newspaper; the Berlin Airlift during the Cold War; A newspaper headline gets the presidential election results wrong.

Official Website of The Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum.

About Harry S. Truman.

About the Thomas Hart Benton mural in the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri.

The Day President Franklin Delano Roosevelt Died, and Harry S. Truman Became President.

Click on a thumbnail to see a photograph in a larger size.

 

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Filed under History, Kansas City, Photography