This beautiful old mansion is rich with history and is one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas Architecture, but it needs serious renovation and maintenance to restore and maintain its former glory. Many of the defects will not be obvious to the casual viewer, and the building is structurally sound. The beautiful Mansard roof was replaced in the 1980s and the copper plates are in good condition. The unique outer stone walls are solid, although some minor patching of holes and cracks at the base is underway. Although mostly made of stone, the outside wood areas need restoration, as do the beautiful interior inlaid parquet floors. Without immediate attention, such details in this historic home will be lost!
The home is built over the dugout dwelling of the first settlers in Abilene, KS, where the first settler baby was born, and it is still there for visitors to see. The stone walls of the dugout were solid enough to serve as a foundation for the entire front of the house, including the turret. Electrical systems need to be restored, as does the well on the property and numerous other details. The acre of land around it has more weeds than lawn left, gates need to be replaced, plumbing needs to be updated, and damage caused by the previous owner needs to be repaired. The previous owner made some bad choices, such as planting vines that grew up the side of the house and destroyed much of the wood. She added hideous 1960s wainscotting, often by driving nails through the wood into the plaster walls! Interior doors are missing, door hardware is damaged, interior paint around the windows are peeling, and wood needs to be properly treated and repainted. Screens for the windows need to be replaced. The cheap garage doors added to the carriage house are already broken and falling apart. The previous owner also destroyed the original kitchen with two vintage coal-burning ovens/stoves and replaced them with a modern kitchen remodel that does not fit the architecture--I'd like to restore the original look, if possible. The two original coal-burning fireplaces have pieces missing.
I bought this house as a foreclosure, so I got a great deal, but I'm not a millionaire and don't have the money to properly fix everything any time soon, so I am applying for grants and other seeking financial assistance while I try to fix the most urgent issues myself. The home needs air conditioning to be truly livable (currently have window air conditioners in only two rooms) and the flexible vents of a new high velocity small duct (HVSD) heating/cooling system would fit between the hollow walls, reducing humidity by 30% and invisibly providing total comfort for all visitors and tour guests--without affecting the architecture. Many community events are planned to share this glorious lady with the community and visitors. Thank you for any help you can offer in this worthy cause!
- John Cuneo
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