Monday, November 21, 2011

Visiting Abilene's Historic Seelye Mansion with Lisa Waterman Gray

It was an accidental meeting. While nursing my daily café latté at
 Lenexa's finest coffee house, I heard bits of pieces of a nearby conversation and surmised they were discussing Kansas and photography. Upon introducing myself, I learned that one of the folks was Lisa Waterman Gray, a name which I recognized, but could not remember why.  I later learned that Lisa is a much-published free lance writer whose credits include articles for Midwest Living; AAA's Midwest, Southern, and New Mexico Travel magazines; Kansas City Star; Christian Science Monitor; Delta Sky; KANSAS! Magazine, and numerous other magazines and journals. 

Lisa has recently published a guidebook for travelers, Explorer's Guide Kansas, as well as authoring a blog: Crossing Kansas.

I was recently honored by a request to do a "guest spot" on Crossing Kansas, and now have the privilege of returning that favor to Ms. Waterman Gray. I am pleased that she chose to share her views and photos of the historic Seelye Mansion in Abilene. I have driven by on several occasions, but never toured this majestic old home, one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas Architecture.


I pulled into the driveway of the graceful Historic Seelye Mansion, in Abilene, on a cool fall morning. Set against a cobalt sky and a wide expanse of emerald lawn and manicured gardens, the 1905 Georgian-style mansion combined a natural stone foundation with massive columns and expansive porches.
Tiffany Fireplace - Seelye Mansion
I entered through the back door, just across from the building that served as Dr. A.B. Seelye's workshop, and home to more than 100 medical and other products that were distributed across 14 states. But my tour began in the beautifully appointed and spacious living room where stunning Tiffany-designed mosaic decorated the fireplace face and Edison lights illuminated the space.
Curved wall with window, Seelye Mansion

Much of the décor in this lovely 11,000-square-foot home came from the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. Delicate lace curtains flanked a high leaded glass window that followed the subtly curved wall and low radiator. A stunning gold side table stood atop a richly hued Oriental rug.

Elegant table service, Seelye Mansion

Crystal and gold bowls, and sterling candlesticks decorated a long table in the elegant dining room while a pair of antique dolls stood on the single side table in this bright and airy bedroom shared by Dr. Seelye's daughters.
Daughters' bedroom, Seelye Mansion
The upstairs ballroom astounded me with its beautifully maintained, highly polished floor and arched ceiling. Modest bedrooms encircled the space, which Mrs. Seelye frequently offered as a weekend sanctuary for soldiers who were stationed at the nearby Fort Riley.

Upstairs ballroom, Seelye Mansion
Twenty-five rooms, original furnishings and a very devoted owner/caretaker - Terry Tietjens - introduce visitors to one of the finest homes built between Kansas City and Denver, during the early 1900s.

Crossing Kansas Blog:
Lisa Waterman Gray - The Storyteller:

Seelye Mansion Site:
Abilene Tourism Site: 

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