Banker Thomas Kirby constructed this beautiful Victorian home in 1885. Later used as a boarding house, it was restored to its original elegant condition slightly more than a hundred years later. By all rights, I should have listed the Kirby House as a fine dining establishment, because it is, but Nancy and I did not eat there. We did, however, stop at the coffee bar/gift shop for a mocha, then relaxed on the front porch.
These combined attractions are in the same building. The telephone museum part shows what switchboards and times were like in that industry era back into the early 1900's. That takes up about 1/2 of the display area. The rest is of a carousel of C.W. Parker, and other artifacts of the period in around early 1900's. It is open 9-3 Monday- Friday and 10-5 Saturday, and Sunday 1-5. Admission is $4 adults and $3 seniors. The County museum is open all year round. The pieces of both are rather packed into a small space inside.
The home was constructed after A.B. Seelye saw delightful new features in homes at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. He incorporated much into his new 25 room mansion; including light fixtures, bowling alley, and a ballroom, or course. The cost back then was $55,000-a lot. There is also a museum displaying the many artifacts of the drug company he founded in 1890, and retained a number of patents. The elixirs were popular back then, and some of the cures you would not want to use today, not knowing what they do, or how, if at all to cure the ills.
I did not tour the home this time, but in past it is nice inside. Fee charge is $10, and includes the patent museum. Tours are hourly at 10-5 Monday-Saturday and Sunday start at 1PM. The best time to see is in summer when the garden is blooming.
There are some old and well preserved structures that stand out in the town. Drive around and look for them, and identify that little has changed over the years, except they were built solid back then and had style and quality. That mostly lacks anymore.
This location is next to the Abilene & Smokey VAlley RR. It used to be a thriving gift shop and restaurant as well as they tried to attract tourists with some old style buildings from the 1800's. Little is left, and it appears that the tour of the old buildings may not exists any longer. The gift shop is now consignment due to lack of purchases by tourists for normal items to keep the place going. Locals frequent the restaurant, though.
The mansion was a very nice tour when we went inside in 2002. Now it may not open again because of a recent purchase by someone this summer, who may convert it into a residence to live in; or maybe reopen for tours. NO one knows for sure yet. The old tour was about one hour and cost $5-but a local told me it is now up to $10. Lebold was the person who started the local banking in Abilene, and got wealthy. Sold to C.L. Brown in 1920's, it later became an apartment, then an orphanage, then refuge for troops in WWII, and again an apartment building. Through all of this, the inside remained intact and it still is in very elegant condition. The Victorian style home has 23 rooms and the outside colorful limestone and brick is only surpassed by the wonderful display of ornate decoration and moldings inside.
This is a museum that features the greyhound dogs and the adventures of racing throughout the years. The museum describes the evolution of these dogs and how they were bred into becoming a swift and very fast dog. It was a revered dog by Egyptians, and later the breeding was for racing and gambling. The museum is open 7 days a week and admission is free-but they accept donations. I did not go in this time, but a short stop is worth the visit, and pet the dogs walking around the facility.
On the Presidential complex is the museum and home that can be toured. The home tour is free, and the museum is $8 for adults under 62, and $6 for seniors. Wednesdays all get in for $5. The museum can take as long as you like to take in the history of Ike and his war efforts, and then on to being a President. There are some nice displays in the museum, and the chronological sequence lays out the life history of Ike and his wife, and also some of the period typified culture. The home tour is brief, and short, but they have preserved the inside with traditional furnishings from around early to mid 1900's. Those items are from Ike's mother, Ida, who retained much of the old furnishings form her earlier years in the home around 1920-30's.
The facilities are open 9-4:45PM daily except major holidays, and visitor center opens one hour earlier. The complex was started back in 1946 when Eisenhower family sold the home and grounds to a foundation. In 1966, this was dedicated to the Government as a memorial of Ike and his feats. The buildings are made of solid limestone from the area.
The Stover family from Kansas City have made an empire out of candy making. They started in 1923 in Denver. Louis Ward took control in 1969, and it has expanded. There are now 45 company owned stores and 70,000 retail operations that carry the candies. It is the largest in the US for fine candy manufacturing. They make 25 million chocolates a year; all hand dipped. Micky-my companion used to be executive secretary for Ward Stover, son of the founders, and the man who grew the business. The third generation is now in place. They have this outlet store in Abilene, and it is 10,000 square feet full of goodies to buy and sample. Located about 2 miles west of town, exit 272 is the turn off. This is also the processing of the candies here, and you can see the factory floor at work.
This 30 mile trip is a real nice side diversion. The trip takes you about 15 miles each way on an old RR line. It goes through the farm lands along the way. WE visited shortly after a huge flood of the area, and the ground was devastated, let alone the loss of crops. That was in 2002, and they still offer the same route and times. The cars are open for bettrer views,; maybe not as nice in inclement weather, though.
They are closed November-April. Fees are $6 for children and $12 adults. Summer months Tues-Sat at 10 and 2PM. May, September, October are Saturday and Sunday only at these times.
He came from this town and loved the tradition of good old family lifestyle from the Midwest. The Presidential Library and museum are very nice to tour. The sites and laid out well, and the variety good of items and chronological events of Ike's life. The tour of the campus for the overall viewpoints of Eisenhower(aka Eisenhauer) is is an area that is easily walking distances.
The museum is the only facility that charges a fee. It is $8 for adults and $6 seniors, except for Wednesdays all get in for $5. The tour is of museum, Ike's home for about a 5-10 minute tour, the library, which may not have anything to see because it is a research facility, and the visitor center that has a good 22 minute film of the whole Ike theme.
After the Texas Street shanty town was razed, a newer brick clad downtown developed beginning in the 1880's. Centered on the north side of the railroad tracks, today this part of town has a number of antique shops, restaurants, and other small businesses. This is Abilene's "downtown", but today most of the commercial business is along Buckeye nearer I-70. There are a number of commercial architectural gems in Abilene's downtown, mostly of the "semi-precious" variety, featuring brick ornamentation at the entrance or along the roofline of the building facade. Abilene has a signficant inventory, within a four square block, or so, area, that is worthy of redevelopment into center filled with restaurants, bars, theaters, etc. Unfortunately, unlike other Kansas towns like Hays, there is no brick street paving here, unless it's been asphalted over. To get here from I-70, go south on Buckeye then turn right just before the railroad tracks.
Despite the obvious decline of popularity of the sport, greyhound racing has a well endowed museum in Abilene known as the Greyhound Hall of Fame. This is a worthwhile stop not only to see videos of thrilling races, but also to pet the former atheletes. The museum is not normally jammed with visitors, so the curator was more than pleased to show off her champion dogs, who are eager to play, and tell me more about the state of greyhound breeding and racing within the USA. Admission is free, and there's a nice gift shop featuring greyhound dog paraphenelia of all sorts.
Unfortunately, I didn't have time to visit the 17 rooms of the very impressive Lebold Mansion. This building is privately held but the rooms are restored to their original period colors and furnishings, and tours are available almost daily. Sometime, I'll stop to visit this place and provide more images here.
The stage coach stop that started it all was located near the river, and today is marked by a brass plate right in front of the Lebold Mansion. On the other side of the river, is another plate dedicated to the Overland Trail and Mud Creek. The creek is well contained now, but probably flooded periodically in pioneer days. Located near the 1st and Elm street corner, another landmark here is a sizeable, old, but still functional grain elevator along the rail line. Note the Lebold Mansion in the background of the grain elevator image.