Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve & Spring Hill Farm and Stock Ranch

The Tallgrass Prairie Nature Preserve is located 16 miles south of Council Grove.

The Preserve includes the former home of Cattleman Stephen F. Jones which he named the "Spring Hill Farm and Stock Ranch".

The porch provides a panoramic view of the Flint HIlls.

The eleven room home was built with hand-cut limestone.

Built in 1881, the house is characteristic of the Second Empire Style of 19th century architecture. Second Empire Arcitecture was modeled after the opulent architecture of Paris during the reign of Napoleon III and was popular in the United States from about 1855-1885. It is a style of Victorian architecture which preceeded the Queen Anne era of painted ladies.

Second Empire architecture often included small entries, mansard roofs, towers, dormers and wrought iron.

I loved this detail on the front columns.

The front doors are massive.  They are deceptive because they are made of pine painted to resemble a more expensive wood.

Natural Springs are found on the hillside behind the house.  A cistern was built to collect the water which was then piped under ground and down the hill to the house. A ice house was also constructed to store ice for summer use.

Chuck checks out the "Icehouse".

The "Necessary House" or what we might call the "Outhouse".  This outhouse even had windows with curtains, which was highly unusual.

The interior includes a child's toilet seat.

The fireplaces also use trompe l'oeil painting (fool the eye).  The limestone is painted to resemble marble.

Notice the ornate plaster molding and the bay window.

Another interior room.

Ornately carved bannister.

Up close detail of the pine doors painted to appear like more expensive paneling.

The three story barn is 60x100 feet. 

Horses, cattle or other animals were housed on the lower levels.  Hay,grain, and equipment were stored on the upper levels which were reached by means of these unique ramps.

View of the prairie out the barn window.

The day we visited, a quilt show was being held in the barn.

When built, the barn roof contained two and half tons of tin.

The real star of the Preserve is the Prairie itself, nestled among the gently rolling Flint Hills.

At one time, Tall Grass Prairie covered 140 million acres of North America.  Today, less than 4% of Tall Grass Prairie is still in existence. Tall Grass can reach heights of 6 foot.

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