William Pitzer Brown, with a fortune accumulated through natural gas, commissioned the Kansas City, Kansas, firm of Wilder and Wight to design the home. Situated in a commanding position atop a hill, the 16-room Neoclassic mansion was completed in 1906 at a wholesale cost of $125,000. Inviting first and second-story verandas supported by Tuscan columns grace the entire south and west sides. Chinoiserie-patterned railings found in Jeffersonian architecture adorn the balcony. An ornate portico tops the two-story porte cochere.
Unlike the classic exterior, the interior of the home is an example of the era's most up-to-date conveniences. Nine fireplaces of different design -most burning natural gas - augment the central heating. Gasoliers - using both electricity and natural gas - illuminate the home. Both the main doors have Tiffany leaded-glass panels featuring fleur-de-lis.
The main floor includes a two-story entry, living room, parlor, music room, library, conservatory, dining room, billiard room, kitchen, and maid's quarters. A Tiffany chandelier hangs in the dining room. Five bedrooms and three full baths are on the second floor. The entire third floor is a ballroom. The walls in several rooms have hand-painted canvas coverings. A full basement houses the butler's quarters, laundry, heating system, walk-in icebox, wine cellar, and storage rooms. The 20-inch-thick brick and concrete walls serve as insulation for the gas heating system.
The terraces of the Brown's formal garden still grace the south lawn. All the furnishings within the Mansion - including china and silver - actually belonged to the Brown family; none are reproductions.
Photos directly above, courtesy of Darla Thornburg and the CCC Interactive Media
The Brown Mansion is truly a wonder of Kansas architecture as it offers a glimpse of our roots, individuals, and events contributing to and shaping Kansas.
The Coffeyville Historical Society acquired the Brown Mansion and the surrounding grounds in 1973.
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