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Another of my favorite house museums! This imposing structure is the Seiberling Mansion in Kokomo, Indiana. It was built by Monroe Seiberling of Akron, Ohio, who came to the area to open the Kokomo Strawboard Company, which manufactured hat and shoeboxes out of straw, but within six months, he had sold the business to open another, the Diamond Plate Glass company, the largest and most technologically advanced glass factory in the country. It specialized in producing 10-foot long sheets of glass, which was shipped as far as Chicago, which was recovering from the devastating fire, so glass was in short supply. Seiberling is also the uncle of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company Frank Seiberling, so financial success was something of a tradition in their family! Or so it seemed...

Construction of this impressive, three-story Victorian mansion began in October, 1889. It cost $50,000, an outlandish sum at the time. It took two years to construct. The family finally took up residency in 1891. A triumph of Neo-Jacobean (Queen Anne) and Romanesque-Revival architectural style, the house was located in the Old Silk Stocking Historic District. Seiberling reportedly browsed the architect's portfolio book and picked out all the specific details he wanted himself, which included a different type of wood in every room. The wood carving in the house is astonishing: even door hinges, and, especially the floors, some of which feature highly decorated friezes, such as florals and checkerboards, are elaborately carved.

Also in the 1880s, a large natural gas reserve was discovered in the region, and the town capitalized on this newly-discovered natural resource by offering both free a free gas supply and land to anyone who opened a factory in the town, which included Monroe Seiberling, but, unfortunately, the gas supply, which was thought to be essentially limitless, began to become depleted, due to a lack of technology to reach the deepest wells, and mismanagement, which rendered them all but unusable. By 1902, the gas boom had ended. As their prospects in the town began to wane, the Seiberlings moved to Peoria, Illinois, in 1895, meaning that they lived in the house for less than five years. Seiberling opened up other companies n Peoria, as well as another glass plant in Ottawa, Illinois.

The house changed hands multiple times, until it was finally purchased by George Kingston, the engineer behind the carburetor that Henry Ford used in his Model Ts, in 1914, whose family resided there until his death in 1946. In 1945, Indiana University founded a Kokomo extension center, but it quickly outgrew its existing structure, and the university purchased the Seiberling mansion to use as yet another expansion facility. It was used for several years, but was then vacated, and sat empty for seven years, before the university turned the property over to Howard County for use as a house museum. It unfortunately was vandalized to some degree while it was unoccupied, but it has since been restored to its original glory. An example of the care taken during restoration efforts: as some of the original stained glass was destroyed by vandals, he Kokomo Opalescent Art Glass company, which uses the same ingredients to produce stained glass as when the original windows were produced, replaced the glass, so the renovations were very period-accurate. The original icebox was also discovered during renovations, concealed behind drywall panels, and it's now on display. The house is now owned by the Howard County Historical Society, serving as the main museum of the Howard County Historical Museum.

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. It's open to the public for guided tours, and is one of the most opulent and impressive homes in the state.

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Additional Photos by Terez Anon (terez93) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 83 W: 78 N: 909] (1703)
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