As a boy growing up in Kansas I can remember trips to Abilene, Kansas and driving by a very large mansion that always intrigued me. I remember hearing how two elderly sisters lived in the beautiful, yet somewhat rundown mansion, and of it having a bowling alley in the basement. For many years I longed to see the inside of that house and learn more about its history. So you can imagine my delight when I learned that the house had been painstakingly restored and was now open for tours. Yet the opportunity to visit did not immediately present itself as it never seemed to work into our schedule when we were in that area. Then finally in 2014 I was able to fulfill that longtime dream and take a tour of what has to be one of the most outstanding historical homes in all of Kansas.
Built in 1905 at the cost of $55,000 the Seelye Mansion is a three story, Georgian style mansion designed by a New York architect for Dr. and Mrs. A.B. Seeyle in 1904. Dr. Seeyle made his fortune in the “Patent Medicine” business which allowed him to build this 11,000 square foot mansion for his wife and two young daughters, Helen and Marion.
The furnishings for the home cost another $60,000 and many of them were purchased by the Seeyle’s at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. The house also included original “Edison” lighting and light fixtures that were designed by Thomas Edison, whom the Seeyle’s met at the World’s Fair. Both much of the original furnishings and the original light fixtures and lighting are still used in the house. Some remodeling of the interior of the home was done in the 1920’s under the guidance of Frank Lloyd Wright and a fire in recent years required some restoration to the upper part of the home, yet most of the original contents of the home remain to this day.