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House tours at the Wolf Mansion

Written by Nicholas Serrano. Posted in Entertainment

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Published on April 13, 2011 with No Comments

To start off spring in style, take a trip back in time, back to the 19th century. Clement and Lynda Khan will be hosting house tours at the Wolf Mansion this month. The house was built in 1875 by Josephus Wolf for his wife Susan Young Wolf. The house itself required the labor of 300 German bricklayers and took three years to complete.

The Wolf Mansion has been restored and maintained as closely as possible to the original design. As the tour progresses through the majestic rooms, Clement and Lynda talk about the life of Josephus and Susan Wolf. It was in the first floor bedroom – now the library – that Susan breathed her last breath in the year 1903.

Although the house is termed a “modest” Victorian Italianate, the grand scale pays tribute to Josephus Wolf who at one time owned 4,500 acres of land in the surrounding area.

Lynda’s family carefully preserved the 19th century heirlooms of the previous generations of her family, which are now displayed throughout the house. There are the quilts made by grandma Daisy, and a small trunk crafted by great-great-grandpa Calvin Owen. Oil lamps from the old Owen homestead abound in many rooms, along with original documents from the Civil War.

The house tour includes the rooms on the first floor, second floor and third floor. There are actually two separate third floors, but one of them is still unfinished. Someone called it the “secret room” because it is accessed from a small room on the second floor and is not connected to the third floor main archive room. This “secret room” is still under construction, so it is the only room not included on the tour – yet.

The cupola on the third floor provides a unique view, and, on a clear day, one can see the Chicago skyline. The cupola rises about 40 feet above the ground and is open to all adventuresome visitors who are able to ascend the small staircase to the very top. It is structurally sound, so there is no danger in exploring up there, once one has entered the room. There is also a telescope if anyone desires to expand their vision.

There are several informative exhibits throughout the house. One concerns the Civil War and the famous battles of Gettysburg and Antietam. Another illustrates the work of the famous Sally Patchin, noted for both her civil service as well as her lovely painted baskets. A few of her baskets will be on display in the sewing/trunk room.

And on the second floor there is a “Dickens” room, with a display of over 50 Department 56 Dickens houses and figurines. It is necessary to call in advance for reservations, because attendance must be regulated so that everyone can participate in the tour and hear the narrative as it progresses.

The Wolf Mansion is located at 453 W. 700 North in Valparaiso. For more information, call 219-364-8102, or visit www.wolfmansion.net.

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