Thursday, June 21, 2012

A trip to Laura Ingalls Wilder's House!

I had been promising my niece since last summer that we would go to Laura Ingalls Wilder's home and museum so last Thursday that's exactly where we went!

The scribbles and words you see are written in the dust on the sign. 

We weren't allowed to take any pictures inside the museum or the houses which was a bummer. I always find people's lives who have accomplished something so huge fascinating.  In the museum they had everything from clothes Laura wore to the things that were in the buggy when they came to Mansfield. There were photographs of the real Ma, Pa, Laura, Mary, Carrie, and Grace. As people trickled into the museum while we waited (for-freaking-forever) for the next tour to start, several questions were being asked about how different the TV show was from their real lives. One big thing was that in real life Mary never regained her sight nor was she ever married with children.

Front view of house

When the tour started we went into a small room that played a mini documentary with Laura speaking on some parts of it. As a writer I find it amazing that Laura didn't start writing her books until she was 65 years old! Because of her sister's blindness she had adapted a key sense of description so she could always explain things to her which is why her memory for the books held out so well. After the documentary we started on the tour.

Back porch which was actually the first part of the house that had been built.

In some ways it was like a time wrap and in other ways it seemed like I was walking into someone's grandparents house. The fact that the house hasn't had much done to it and is still in great condition is amazing. Laura's husband, Almanzo loved to woodwork and put a lot of different things into the house like all the cabinets, sitting areas by the big windows, and I loved-loved the mini library that was set off to the side of the living room. The only downfall of the tour were these four bratty boys that were all under the age of seven or eight. I know they were kids, and I know they were on a family vacation, but c'mon now, what two-year-old is going to be interested in an old house?  Plus a very snooty woman was driving me a bit bonkers with questions like, "Did he really do that? That seems like too much work for someone of the time period." It's called people actually busted their butts back in the day, lady.

Walkway up to the Rock House

After the tour we went into the gift shop, got a few things then headed down to what they call the Rock House. The Rock House was the retirement house that their daughter had built for them. They never got to see what it looked like until Christmas day when it was all finished. Talk about one awesome Christmas gift! And guys, I fell in love with this place. So gorgeous and so many little details on the inside. I want to live there!

So. Freaking. Cute.

I want this door!

Speaking of....what is really neat is that the Rock House sold back in the 1940's and a family friend of ours actually grew up in that house during the 70's! Me and Bree ended up being the only two people down there at the time to go to the tour (the bratty kid pack showed up but luckily we were already inside so they had to wait -- hoorah!!) so I was telling the tour guide about how I knew someone who lived there. She got all excited because the historical society didn't get it back until 1990 and spent 7 years restoring it back to how it used to be thanks to a lot of photographs that were taken when Laura and her husband lived there.  They only lived there for a few years before they decided to go back to their bigger house on the other side of the property because that was what was really home to them.

We headed back into town where we stopped at Laura's Sweet Memories. It was mainly a candy type store, but the cutest little old lady who I assume owned the shop along with her husband, told us that she was the fourth cousin of Almanzo and talked to us a bit about the books and her husband told us about Pa's fiddle which is taken out each year at an annual festival and played. I plan on attending next year!

Fun Facts We Learned That Day:

Laura said she wanted to live to be 90 years old. She died three days after her 90th birthday.

Laura hated baking bread so she had her husband put in two big windows on both sides of the bread making table so she could look outside at the animals or see when company was coming.

They were the first people in Mansfield to get running water.

All their friends convinced them to purchase an electric stove when it first came out. They used it a few times, but Laura said the food tasted awful and went back to cooking on their wood stove up until they day she passed away. Both stoves were still in the kitchen.

Their daughter, Rose, lived in their bigger house after she built them the Rock House. She wrote a few of her own novels while staying there.

A guest bedroom was put on upstairs and the only person to have ever stayed in it was her sister, Grace, who visited her 3 times. 

They loved their dishes and had many collections on so many shelves including a lot of Depression Glass.

Laura was only 4'11 so when her husband started to build the house he built it for her size. Low ceilings and cabinets where she could reach. In the Rock House her daughter made sure the shower head was also her size. 

Most of the Little House on the Prairie books were written in Laura's kitchen until her husband started adding onto the house and built her a small office where she had a writing desk, a lounge chair, and a big window to look out from.

After that we came back home, freshened up a bit then hit up the carnival that was in town! (And dumb me forgot to bring my camera with me!)  I was all excited, but it ended up being such a small one and not many adult rides. There was maybe 4, I think. We ended up just going on two ride, Bree played a few games and she won two stuffed animals out of three, ate cotton candy and snow cones then ended the night eating Chinese food for dinner. I was out of it by the time I dropped her off, but it was such a fun day! I can't wait to have more of them with her this summer!


  1. ahhh that looks like so much fun! little house on the prairie, anne of green gables, etc make me feel nostalgic for some reason!

  2. Me too! I'm such a sucker for Anne of Green Gables *sighs*


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