Thursday, June 27, 2013

Laura Ingalls Wilder Home ~ Part 2

There is so much I could say about our tour of the Laura Ingalls Wilder home.  One of the first things I thought, after being in Laura's house just a few minutes, was that in spite of all the tourists that wander through every day, it's really as if she has never left.  You can still feel her presence there.  It's as if she had to run to the store for something and would be right back.  

Maybe it's because everything in the house is like it was in 1957 when Laura died.  The only things that have been changed are the replicated curtains and bedspreads.  And the lineolem in the kitchen was replaced because the original was quite worn.  All the furnishings in the house belonged to the Wilders.

The Wilders came to Mansfield MO in 1894 and purchased this 40 acre farm which had a one-room log cabin.   After living in the log cabin through the first winter, they built a room onto the side and the next spring they moved the new room to the present historic house location where it is now the kitchen.  A second room with an attic space above it was added to create a two-room house with an attic bedroom for Rose.   Subsequent rooms were added on as they were able.  

Here's a layout of the house that was on the brochure that was handed out on the tour.

We started our tour of the house where the arrow is on the right side of the illustration above.  We went through a small porch area into the kitchen.  You can see where her wood cookstove sat almost in the center of the kitchen.  In the late 30's, Laura got a small apartment-sized electric range for summer cooking.  

The Wilder's house, including the other house that Rose had built, was the only house in the area that had electricity from 1928 to around 1950.  Rose had paid for an electric line to both houses at a cost of around three thousand dollars.  

Laura was a short woman, less than 5 feet tall.  The baking cabinet that is between the two windows in the kitchen was quite low.

Next, going through the door into the dining room and on the left is a very narrow ladder stairway which Rose used to get to her attic bedroom when this was just a two-room house.  I have no idea how they ever got any furniture up that very narrow stairway!

There is a pass through to the kitchen and cabinets on the dining room side which were left in place when the house was added onto.  Besides the dining table and chairs, there was a homemade chair made by Almanzo in this room as well as the clock which was mentioned in "The First Four Years".  Almanzo would wind this clock every night.  Laura's rocking chair remains where she used it.  Fan mail and birthday cards sent in 1957 are on the side table.  

The bedroom was built on the south of the house so that it would catch the summer breezes.  This room was long but not very wide.  Laura and Almanzo each had a twin bed to sleep in.  Her bed was nearest the bathroom.  Almanzo's handmade canes are still in the holder near his bed in the west end of the room.  According to the brochure, Laura called Almanzo "The Man of the Place" in her magazine articles and said he was a very good jack-knife carpenter.  He also made the small bedside table for her.  

In the office is the small desk where many of the "Little House" books were written by hand on a tablet.  There was a small day bed couch next to the window where Laura would sleep in the early morning hours after writing through most of the night.

There is a step up and over the landing into the parlor area.  The upstairs is not open to the public.  Upstairs, Rose's bedroom is above Laura's and a guest bedroom is above the music room and dining room.  

The music room was originally designed as a formal dining room, but Laura said that it was not practical on a farm and converted it into a music room.  There was an organ in this room and an electrola that dates from 1928.

The library is a very small area that was created by partitioning off the east side of the living room.  Shelves were built on all four sides but an area was left for a doorway.  Rose's 1904 graduation picture has a special spot on the north wall.

According to the brochure, Laura wrote that everything was used from the farm that could be, for financial and sentimental reasons.  Almanzo and another man finished out the portion of the house called the parlor by hand.  Laura called her windows "living pictures" and positioned them so that the outside world was visible.  A 1942 picture of Laura and Almanzo is on the mantle.  

The rooms are really fairly small in this house, but also very adequate.  The simplicity of this old farmhouse is very appealing and it felt like "home".  I can see why Laura loved it there.  

We left the house by the front door which opens onto a small porch.  The view of the grounds with many trees is very pretty.  A photo of that view is next.  

Whew!  If you've made it through all of this, you're a real Laura Ingalls Wilder fan, too!   This post has turned out to be much longer than I thought it would be, so I'll have to show the photos of the other house that their daughter, Rose, had built for them another time.  I also have a little more to the story to share!

Until next time...


  1. Oh gosh, even the LAND is gorgeous!!! I wish I could go myself, so you are the next best thing!!!

  2. With the floor plan and your description it's easy to visualize the place from top to bottom. Interesting that the upstairs is closed from the public. Thanks for the tour.

  3. This is one place I probably will never get to see in person- so thank you very much for the tour. I love her books.

  4. I love that it has been kept "like she had just gone to the store" and would return. And, how cool is it to describe windows as living pictures! love it! blessings ~ tanna

  5. Oh what a delightful time, you must have had.

    And a floor plan!!! I love, love, love floor plans!!! :-)


  6. This is the most awesome place. My daughter loves the old farm place. I think I like the modified Sears home best, by Rose. :) We channel our Laura when we are there.

    We'll be heading back there as soon as it's not super hot.

    Oh and did you know that you can tour the upstairs during the August festival?

  7. It's wonderful that they have kept it just as it was. And the view from the front is really lovely.

  8. I love it that there was a music room and a library! What a great tour. Would love to visit.

  9. this is a home i would very much enjoy was really simple back then but also very hard...

  10. this line says it all: Laura called her windows "living pictures" and positioned them so that the outside world was visible.

  11. We toured the Wilder home several years ago. THe thing I remember most, was the short cabinets Almonzo built specially for Laura.
    Loved seeing it again through your eyes. It is a beautiful piece of property.

  12. Hi Cheryl, I loved reading your posts on Laura Ingalls Wilder. My husband and I had visited here a few years back. It was fun reading about it again, as those were and still are one my favorite book series. Now I want to go back and visit it again :)

  13. I loved the post and was sorry when it ended so naturally I will be looking for more on Laura and her family.

  14. Well, I read every word. I wonder how she would have felt to have been the subject of a television show. I wonder if Melissa Gilbert every toured the place. That would be cool. To have acted out the life of someone and then stand in the spot where they actually would just take my breath away. Oh, yes, I loved Little House On The Prairie...both the book and the tv show.

  15. Hi Thank you for sharing as I will never have the opportunity to visit there. I loved the seat in the grounds and could imagine myself sitting there looking and listening for birds. Margaret

  16. I had to go back and read part I before I could read Part II. These posts were fascinating. I am wondering how I didn't know that this was in Missouri! I thought I had seen, or at least known to see, it all. This destination has now been added to my must do list. Thank you so much for sharing.


  17. We are definitely going to go there this Fall! Is Fall here yet? And where did you eat lunch before you took the tour?.. :)

  18. I visited the Wilder home about 12 or 13 years ago and it still remains one of my favorite tours ever. I actually planned our trip with this being one of our stops. It's such a lovely home and land with charming details. I'm enjoying your review and look forward to the rest of your tour.

  19. I'm so glad that you went there! Thanks for sharing this trip.

  20. I am enjoying all of your descriptions of the rooms and furnishing. You did an excellent job. I can picture it all. I again must say I could live in that house. I the grounds are also very peaceful and beautiful. I have always loved her stories.
    When we moved to Paradise, California many years ago we rented an farm house that was probably about that old. It was one of my favorite homes. This has brought back some sweet memories.

  21. You have made me want to read her books again. You have done such an amazing job of making it so real for us. I am so glad you are not finished.

  22. More! More! Love the floor plan you shared and the description of their home. I really like the way she thought of her windows as living pictures. So true!

  23. gorgeous view of the land. I could sure see myself enjoying a good picnic right there.
    I would love to go visit this place...Thanks for sharing with us.

  24. Cheryl
    I'm loving it all!
    don't leave out any details.
    Now I can't wait to hear about this other home...

  25. I'm a fan too, and I loved both of these posts!

  26. Great post and I love Laura! I always have. Can't wait until your next post about Rose and her house. Thank you so much for doing this. I'm sure I will never be there to see it in person.


  27. Cheryl, I can see why they came back to The Home Place... there is something about it that is so very appealing!