Seelye Mansion: A Historic Landmark in Abilene, KS

Seelye Mansion Gardens

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If you’re looking for a unique piece of history to explore, the Historic Seelye Mansion in Abilene, Kansas is a must-visit destination. Built in 1905 for Dr. A.B. Seelye, the mansion is an 11,000-square-foot home that has been preserved as a time capsule of the early 1900s. The mansion is named one of the “8 Wonders of Kansas – Architecture” and is a popular tourist destination.

Seelye Mansion: A Historic Landmark in Abilene, KS

The Mansion is a fascinating example of the opulence of the early 1900s. Most of the home’s furnishings were purchased at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, and the cost of the furnishings alone exceeded the $55,000 spent building the mansion. The 25-room mansion features beautiful stained glass windows, intricate woodwork, and a grand staircase that is sure to impress visitors.

The mansion is also home to the Seelye Patent Medicine Museum, which occupies a former Seelye laboratory that has been moved to the rear of the mansion.

Historical Background

The Seelye home, located in Abilene, Kansas, is a historic home that was built in 1904 by a New York architect for Dr. A.B. Seelye, a patent medicine magnate, and his wife. In the 20s it was worked on by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It transitioned hand from the hands of the Seeley family to it’s current owner The mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas Architecture.

The Seelye Rise To Riches

Dr. A.B. Seelye, born in 1844 in Massachusetts, was a physician who created patented medicines called fun names like Fro-Zona, Ner-Vena, Wasa-Tusa, and Laxative Cold Tablets which were marketed as cure-alls for various ailments. In all, he would create over eighty different tonics – basically creating his own complete line, down to a horse liniment.

these medicines became very popular and made Seelye a wealthy man as he created a network of traveling salesmen over a 14-state area. He used his fortune to build the Seelye Mansion as a symbol of his success.

The Seelye family was known for their philanthropic efforts, including the establishment of the Seelye Children’s Hospital in Kansas City. However, Seelye’s success was not without controversy. 

Seelye Mansion
Just look at all the different kinds of medicine and the “lab” to make it

What is Giveth, is Taken Away (By the FDA)

In 1906, the Pure Food and Drug Act was passed, which required companies to accurately label their products and prohibited the sale of misbranded or adulterated food and drugs. This marked the beginning of the end for the patent medicine industry, including The A.B. Seelye Medical Company.

When paired with the tax implemented by the state of Kansas on medicine wagons and adding in the Great Depression, it is easy to see how it was all lost. Today, I believe we would refer to him as a “snake oil saleman”.

Architectural Design

The Seelye Mansion is a three-story Georgian-style mansion designed by a New York architect in 1904 for Seelye and his wife. It is one of the finest homes as well as one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas Architecture and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Architectural Design
It really is quite stunning, both inside and out

The mansion’s architectural design is grand and impressive, with 25 rooms and 11,000 square feet of living space. The exterior of the mansion features a symmetrical facade with a central entrance, flanked by two-story Ionic columns. The entrance is topped by a pediment and a balcony supported by two more Ionic columns.

The interior of the mansion is equally impressive, with most of the original furniture and Edison light fixtures still in place. The furnishings were purchased at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair and cost more than the $55,000 that was spent building the mansion.

tiffany fireplace from the seelye mansion
Just look at the Tiffany Fireplace- it is stunning up close

The mansion’s grandeur is further highlighted by the presence of several unique architectural features. These include:

  • Tiffany fireplace: One of the mansion’s most notable features is a Tiffany fireplace in the library. The fireplace is made of marble and features a bronze hood with a stained glass panel.
  • Carved woodwork: The mansion’s woodwork is intricately carved with designs that reflect the Georgian style of the home. The woodwork can be seen throughout the mansion, including in the grand staircase and the dining room.
  • Leaded glass windows: The mansion’s leaded glass windows are another unique feature. The windows feature intricate designs and add to the grandeur of the home.
cozy alcove in the seelye mansion
I love the perfect use of space – anywhere you ook

Overall, the Seelye Mansion’s architectural design is a testament to the grandeur and opulence of the early 1900s. The mansion’s unique features and attention to detail make it a must-see for anyone interested in architecture and design.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Influence

As you explore the Mansion, you may notice the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the most famous American architects of the 20th century. Wright was known for his organic architecture style, which emphasized the integration of buildings with their natural surroundings.

During the 1920s, renowned American architect Frank Lloyd Wright left his indelible mark on the place. Wright, known for his innovative architectural designs and contributions to the Prairie School movement, was commissioned to remodel the interior of this stately mansion.

  • A Blend of Styles: Wright’s redesign of the Seelye Mansion’s interior was an intriguing fusion of his signature Prairie Style and the mansion’s existing Victorian architecture. This blend resulted in a unique and harmonious aesthetic that showcased his genius.
  • Organic Architecture: Wright’s philosophy of “organic architecture” is evident throughout the interior remodeling. He incorporated natural materials and emphasized open spaces, creating a more seamless connection between the indoors and outdoors.
the kitchens at the Seelye Mansion
Pay attention in the kitchen part of the tour – there are a fun cool things they had!

Honestly, it seemed like he mucked it up. Many of the things he changed and removed, were restored during the renovations. You will learn a lot more about this if you take the tour.

Notable Inhabitants

Alfred B. Seelye

Alfred B. Seelye was the original owner of the Seelye Mansion. He was a wealthy businessman who owned a lumber company and a bank. He built the mansion in 1905 as a gift for his wife, Sarah. The mansion is a three-story Georgian-style mansion that has 25 rooms, including a ballroom, a library, and a billiards room.

Alfred B. Seelye passed away in 1929, and the mansion was passed down to his daughter, Helen Seelye. Helen lived in the mansion for many years and made some significant changes to the property.

While he never finished Med School (moved on after a year) he was still affectionately referred to as “Doc” by many.

Helen and Marion Seelye

Helen and Marion Seelye were the daughters of Alfred B. Seelye and the second owners of the Mansion. They sold in 1981 to Terry Tietjens and his twin brother Jerry. They were allowed to live there until the time of their demise.

Today, the Seelye Mansion is open to the public for tours, and visitors can see many of the original furnishings and artwork that were purchased by Alfred B. Seelye at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, which collectively cost more than the price to build the actual home.

Famous Visits

Throughout its history, this luxurious 25-room Mansion has welcomed many famous guests. Here are a few notable names:

  • President Dwight D. Eisenhower: Born in nearby Denison, Kansas, Eisenhower visited the Mansion on several occasions. He even wrote a letter to the Seelye family in 1962, thanking them for their hospitality and reminiscing about his childhood in the area.
  • Amelia Earhart: The famous aviator was a friend of the Seelye family and visited the mansion in the 1930s. She even gave a lecture in the ballroom, which was attended by more than 200 people.
  • John Philip Sousa: The renowned composer and conductor performed at the Mansion in 1925. His band played on the lawn, and the event was attended by thousands of people.
  • William Jennings Bryan: The three-time presidential candidate visited the Mansion in 1908. He gave a speech in the ballroom, which was decorated with banners and flags.
  • Carrie Nation: The temperance advocate and prohibitionist visited the Mansion in 1901. She gave a speech in the parlor, urging women to join the fight against alcohol.

These famous visits are just a few examples of the rich history and cultural significance of Seelye Mansion. Today, visitors can tour the mansion and learn more about its past and the people who shaped it.

original edison light fixtures in the Seelye Mansion
These light fixtures are stunning!

Cultural Significance

This Mansion stands as a prominent cultural icon in Abilene, Kansas. It isn’t just an exquisite residence; it’s a captivating time capsule, offering a glimpse into the early 20th century. A majority of the mansion’s furnishings were acquired during the 1904 St Louis World’s Fair, surpassing the cost of building the 11,000-square-foot home, which totaled $55,000. Inside, you’ll encounter a treasure trove of intricate woodwork, mesmerizing stained glass windows, and a grand Tiffany-designed mosaic tile fireplace in the Grand Hall.

Beyond its aesthetic appeal, the Seelye Mansion holds a special place in Abilene’s history. Dr. A.B. Seelye, a prominent figure in the community, established the mansion as a symbol of his prosperity and accomplishments. Meticulously preserved and thoughtfully restored over the years, it now welcomes the public for informative tours. Visitors have the opportunity to delve into the mansion’s rich past and gain insights into Abilene’s history through engaging exhibits and displays.

The Mansion also doubles as a sought-after venue for events and weddings. Its elegant interiors and picturesque gardens create an enchanting setting for special occasions. The mansion’s experienced staff excels in event planning, ensuring the success of any gathering. I can just imagine that perfect wedding in the beautiful gardens!

This place holds a significant position as a cultural landmark in Abilene, Kansas, bearing witness to the opulence and grandeur of the early 20th century. Its storied history and magnificent architecture render it an essential destination for all those exploring Abilene.

Seelye Mansion Tours

If you are planning to visit Abilene, Kansas, this place is a must-visit attraction. Seriously, make it your number one stop. This historic mansion offers guided tours that provide a glimpse into the lives of the Seelye family, who lived in the house for over 50 years.

Haviland China from the Seelye Mansion
Just look at the beautiful Haviland china!

The guided tours of this beautiful home last approximately one hour and cover the mansion, gardens, and museum. During the tour, you will learn about the history of the mansion, the original Edison light fixtures, interesting information about the kitchen areas, the Tiffany-designed fireplace, the Seelye family, and the various furnishings like the gold French furniture,  and artifacts on display like their Haviland China.

The knowledgeable tour guides will provide you with interesting facts and stories that will enhance your experience. I found our tour guide a delight and enjoyed trying my hand at playing on the box ball alley. I really wanted to sit at the Steinway grand piano in the music room and see if those years of piano lessons sounded any better than on my old upright. (I’m sure it would have been fabulous!)

The music room at the Seelye Mansion
Can’t you just see me sitting there, 100 years ago, in a fancy dress, playing something catchy?

The tours are available daily, except for major holidays, and are conducted by appointment only. The mansion is open Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm and Sunday from 1 pm to 4 pm. Tickets can be purchased on the day of your tour at the Seelye Patent Medicine Museum behind the mansion.

The Seelye Mansion also offers extended hours during the summer months, and special events like “Mysteries at the Mansion” where you can solve a mystery while touring the mansion. If you are interested in attending a special event, make sure to check the official website or call ahead to confirm the dates and times.

nutcracker dolls at the Seelye Mansion
There are over 600 of these little buggers!

Overall, a tour of this mansion is an excellent way to learn about the history and culture of Abilene, Kansas. Whether you are a history buff or just looking for a unique experience, the guided tours of the Mansion are sure to leave you with lasting memories.
Fun Fact: There are hundreds of Nutcracker Dolls there as the Seeley family liked to decorate their home for the Christmas holidays.

box bowling
OK – I am better with 10 pins than 5 boxes – I kind of sucked at this, but it was fun

Preservation Efforts

Preserving the Seelye Mansion has been a priority for the community of Abilene, Kansas. The mansion has been designated as a National Historic Landmark, and efforts have been made to maintain its original architecture and decor.

One of the most significant preservation efforts was the restoration of the mansion’s stained glass windows. The windows were in poor condition and had suffered damage over the years. In 2010, a restoration project was undertaken, and the windows were carefully removed, repaired, and reinstalled. The restoration process took several months, but the result was well worth it. The windows are now a stunning feature of the mansion and are a testament to the dedication of those involved in the restoration project.

Field of Flowers North Farm
Click on the picture to check it out

Another important preservation effort has been the ongoing maintenance of the mansion’s gardens. The gardens are an essential part of the mansion’s history, and they have been carefully tended to over the years. The gardens are open to the public, and visitors can stroll through the various sections and enjoy the beauty of the flowers and plants. The patio and fish pond have actually been restored using the 1905 landscape drawings.

In addition to these efforts, the Seelye Mansion and Patent Medicine Museum has been established to preserve the history of the mansion and its former owners. The museum features exhibits on the history of patent medicine, as well as displays of artifacts and memorabilia from the Seelye family. The museum is a valuable resource for anyone interested in the history of the mansion and the surrounding area.

Overall, the preservation efforts surrounding the mansion have been successful in maintaining the mansion’s original beauty and historical significance. The community of Abilene should be proud of their efforts to preserve this important piece of history for future generations to enjoy.


The Historic Seelye Mansion is located at 1105 N Buckeye Ave, Abilene, KS 67410, United States. The mansion is situated in the heart of Abilene, making it easily accessible by car or public transportation. If you are driving, there is ample parking available on the property.

If you are coming from out of town, the closest airport is the Manhattan Regional Airport, which is approximately 45 minutes away by car. Alternatively, you can fly into the Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport, which is approximately 2 hours away by car.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the history behind the Seelye Mansion?

The Seelye Mansion is a historic home located in Abilene, Kansas. It was built in 1905 by Dr. A.B. Seelye, a prominent physician and businessman. The mansion was designed in the Georgian style and features many unique architectural details. Today, the Seelye Mansion is a popular tourist attraction and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

What are some notable features of the Seelye Mansion?

The Seelye Mansion is known for its beautiful architecture and unique furnishings. Many of the home’s furnishings were purchased at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair and cost more than the $55,000 that was spent building the 11,000-square-foot home. The mansion also features a grand staircase, a ballroom, and a beautiful garden.

How can I visit the Seelye Mansion?

The Seelye Mansion is open to the public for tours. Visitors can explore the mansion’s many rooms and learn about its fascinating history. You can learn more about tours on their website

Who were the previous owners of the Seelye Mansion?

The Seelye Mansion has had several owners over the years. In 1981, twin brothers Terry and Jerry Tietjens purchased the mansion from sisters Helen and Marion Seelye. Jerry has passed on and now Terry is the sole owner.

Are there any ghost stories associated with the Seelye Mansion?

There are many rumors and legends surrounding the Seelye Mansion, including stories of ghostly apparitions and mysterious sounds. While there is no concrete evidence to support these claims, many visitors to the mansion report feeling a sense of unease or otherworldly presence. Whether or not you believe in ghosts, the Seelye Mansion is a fascinating and historic place to visit.


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