Historically Kansas has a long past, first with the Native Americans and then with frontiersman. Some of Kansas is just open fields, where the towns are few and far between. Other places like Abilene, Kansas offer a great deal to their residents and visitors. Abilene began as a stage coach stop in 1857 by Timothy Hersey. Eventually a railroad was positioned to go through the town. This brought the attention of Dr. and Mrs. A.B. Seelye. The couple wanted to have a home built in Abilene that could be called the finest home.
They hired an architect from New York to create a Georgian style mansion. At time of construction the home cost $55,000. It was completed in 1905. The Seelye Mansion is open for tours Monday through Saturday starting at 10am and on Sunday from 1pm. The house and grounds close at 6pm each day. Seelye Mansion is closed on Christmas. Admission into the house is $10 for adults, $7.50 for groups of ten or more, $5 for children 6 to 12, and youth groups are $5.
Before the mansion was opened for tour the society that owns it made sure the original furniture and Edison light fixtures would be on display. The house has twenty- five rooms which includes eleven bedrooms, a ballroom bowling alley, and kitchen areas. Some of the rooms are of special interest. There is a dining room and music room. The music room has gold French furniture and a Steinway Grand Piano. There is also a library on the premises. In the grand hall is a Tiffany designed fireplace.
As part of the tour of the house, visitors can tour the Patent Medicine Museum. This museum has many artifacts belonging to the A.B. Seelye Medical Company. The medical company was founded in 1890 and more than a hundred products were sold in a fourteen state area. Medicine bought at the time was Wasa- Tusa, Fro-zona, and Ner-vena.
Also on the grounds at the Seelye Mansion are the gardens. The gardens did not survive time, but those who own the house restored the patio and fish pond, as well as the gardens to the 1905 landscape. There was a drawing left from the past that helped the restoration project. Each tour includes the mansion, gardens, and museum with tour guide.
When Mrs. Seelye was alive they hosted Christmas parties at the house. She would decorate the entire home with trees, poinsettias, and many beautiful decorations. Today from December 1st to January 1st the Seelye Mansion is decorated as it was in the past. Visitors to the area and residents are able to take the special Christmas tours. The admission fee remains the same all year long. However, during the Christmas tour refreshments are served in honor of the holiday.
Architecturally speaking the home is symmetrical with the porches, size of the rooms, and the front entry columns. Typical of the Georgian architecture the house is painted white, with wrought iron used around the grounds.