Christmas decorations can run the gamut but one of our favorite styles is Victorian. There is an elegance to this era that remains the benchmark for holiday exhibits. A visit to Leavenworth, Kansas offered a chance to check out the Carroll Mansion, which was all decked out for the season. This impressive family home has stood on a hill since it was originally built in the late 1850s. Subsequent additions have transformed the residence from a four-room home to the stately mansion that we see today. Let’s head inside to see what surprises we can discover.

We want to thank Visit Leavenworth and Carroll Mansion for hosting our visit. Rest assured all opinions are our own. 

The Carroll Mansion sits on a prominent hill in Leavenworth, Kansas.

Early Start

Our visit to Leavenworth was centered around a Shop Small event, featuring their downtown boutique stores. Our previous tour of the first city in Kansas ended before we could see the Carroll Mansion. We wanted to make sure we didn’t have the same thing happen this time, so we started our day with a tour. Fortunately, the staff was willing to meet with us before the regular opening time, so we received a private tour of the historic home.

Our guide was successful at imparting the history of the Carroll Mansion to us.

Guiding the Way

The morning was crisp but the abundant sunshine was working quickly at bringing the temperature above freezing. After a quick selfie in front of the home, we hurried up to meet our hosts. Stepping through the huge wooden doors, we found ourselves transported back to Victorian days. We were greeted by hand-carved woodwork and inlaid stained glass windows everywhere we looked. This was the type of craftsmanship that has become a rare commodity in this day and age.

The dining table is all decked out with Christmas splendor.

Holiday Presence

John and Letitia Foster were the original owners of the home. Being a carpenter by trade, he chose a prime site to construct their family home. After the original four-room portion was in service, he would begin plans for an impressive addition. The house would change hands a couple of times and by 1882 the new owners were Lucien and Julia Scott. Lucien was president of the First National Bank of Leavenworth. His high-profile job meant the home would become one of the city’s social gathering destinations. To meet the demands, they expanded the home to the sixteen rooms it has today.

The Carroll mansion is filled with personal effects from the previous owners.

Days of Old

Near the turn of the century, the house once again changed hands. When the Edward Carroll family took up residence, it would signal the final time a new family would become owners of the mansion. A Carroll family member would occupy the home for seventy-seven years until it was donated to the Leavenworth Historical Society. These days, visitors can tour the home and take in all of its amazing features.

A Victorian dress sits front and center in a bedroom.

Eye-Catching Exhibits

As our guide ushered us from room to room, we took note of the holiday décor. Each space had touches that reminded us of the Victorian era, during which the home was built and renovated. After seeing the gathering spaces on the first floor, we moved upstairs to see the rooms used primarily by the family. While I am usually focused on historical facts and figures, Crystal embraces these personal spaces. I’m sure she could picture a mother stressing over the details required to dress for a special occasion.

The Carroll Mansion also has lots of photographs from ages ago.

Family Features

Throughout the home, we saw a variety of family photos. Most were from the families that had called the residence home. There were also pictures of others who have distinct relationships with the families or the first city of Kansas. Mingled in with the photos are a variety of personal effects such as this grooming set from the 1800s.

This window would sit ajar to let others know the lady of the house was available for guests.

Hidden Gems

Moving through the home, we kept discovering secret spaces that intrigued us. A drawing room for the lady of the house had stained glass windows that opened to the main staircase. The lady would leave the windows ajar if she was available for the company, otherwise, the windows would be closed for privacy. It was these types of features that made the home special. We loved hearing the stories that connected all of these spaces into one cohesive home.

Even the drawing room was decorated for Christmas.

Refined Elegance

The man of the house also had his space for entertaining. Stepping into the study, I could picture relaxing over a drink and cigar while jawing it up with a friend or business associate. Seeing all of the pieces in place helps us better imagine how the family utilized the 16 rooms.

The authors pose for a cold morning selfie before touring the Carroll Mansion in Leavenworth, Kansas.

Carroll Mansion

A tour of the Carroll Mansion is like stepping back in time to the Victorian era. The extra boost of charm is included during the holidays, as the home looks amazing bedecked in lights and greenery. This historic home is open to visitors for a small entry fee on Tuesday through Saturday. Tours usually last about an hour, which is just enough to enjoy the entire home. Be sure to take in all of the beautiful stained glass and keep your eyes peeled for the amazing craftsmanship and woodwork. While the holidays make a visit extra special, the home is surely just as impressive during the rest of the year.

the authors signatures.

Visit the Carroll Mansion!

Carroll Mansion-Decking the Halls-Leavenworth, Kansas