Laura Ingalls Wilder Week: The Comfortable Home

Last week was spring break for me, so I took the time off to visit my dad and my grandmother, who is ill with cancer, in Missouri. My grandma finished her last radiation treatment while we were there, so we are hoping that things look good and that she’ll start to get stronger and be able to care for herself again.

While there, my dad took us to the Laura Ingalls Wilder house in Mansfield. I have been wanting to visit this historic site for some time, but we were last there during Christmas, and the house is not open until March 1. I had good timing for this trip, and we took a day to visit the site.

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So this week on my blog, I’ll be posting all about that day trip and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

There are two homes that belonged to the Wilders in Mansfield. One is a more “comfortable” home, as described by the tour guide, on a beautiful knoll overlooking the town. It is white and the rooms are cobbled together. They built each room as they could, and the kitchen was moved over from another cabin. It contains all of the furniture and items left behind by Laura and Almanzo, as they left them. The kitchen counters were lower than ordinary because Laura only stood 4’11” and they custom built the kitchen for her. There is a neat pass-through window to the dining room that directly reaches the table. On that table were birthday cards sent to Laura for her 90th birthday. That room also contained the clock that is featured as a Christmas gift to Laura from Almanzo in one of the books. The caretakers of the property keep winding it, and it is still running.

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The bedroom they shared was painted a nice rich Kelly green. They had separate twin beds, but we were told that when Almanzo died, Laura took to sleeping in his bed. In a small adjoining room, we saw the desk where she wrote the books. It was her “writing room” and she began writing there after the first four books were already written. She wrote those in the other house, which I will describe in another post. The desk still had letters and correspondence with publishers on it.

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In the living room, there was a beautiful little corner enclosed with bookshelves about 5 feet high. This was their library, filled with wonderful books. I recognized one as a Dorothy Whipple, a delightful novel called Because of the Lockwoods. Next to that was a small alcove that was Laura’s music room with an organ. I wished I could have sat down and played it, but that tour guide kept a close eye on our large group and wouldn’t let us touch anything! There was also a loft, which was roped off and we couldn’t see. He told us there was a guest bedroom up there that their daughter Rose stayed in.

Tomorrow I’ll post about the other home. It was delightful to be able to visit the home of one my favorite authors.

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