- Associated Press - Sunday, May 25, 2014

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) - Climbing the spiral staircase to the top floor of Ewing Manor used to be reserved for employees and those on official business. Not any more.

Rooms once used by Ewing Cultural Center staff for office and storage space have been restored to their appearance when the Ewing family lived there and added to the tour of the former home of Davis and Hazle Buck Ewing.

Now visitors will be able to see former family bedrooms and admire the view from Davis Ewing’s restored study.

Toni Tucker, cultural center director, said the study is her favorite room in the 44-room, 6,000-square-foot mansion. Pictures taken by Ewing are on the walls and blueprints for the manor, built in the late 1920s in the Channel-Norman style for $178,000, are on the desk.

Public tours resume Monday. The 45-minute tours are available 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays from May through October, except Memorial Day and Labor Day.

The cultural center, which includes Ewing Manor, the Genevieve Green Gardens and the Ewing Theater, home of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, is owned by the ISU Foundation.

Also new to the tour this year is the restored stable, a center of activity when the Ewings lived at the estate, once known as Sunset Hill, at the corner of Emerson Street and Towanda Avenue, Bloomington.

“The stable was in very poor shape,” Tucker said. Boy Scouts spent two days in November scraping and painting the stable. They found watering troughs and oat bins which were refurbished and returned to their original locations.

The second-floor hayloft has trap doors that enabled hay to be dropped into individual stalls.

“My dream is that hayloft would make a fabulous classroom,” Tucker said.

Dan Leifel, a volunteer tour guide, called Ewing Manor “a remarkable resource - a window into that time.” He praised the work Tucker has done, saying, “Toni is making this into a living project.”

Each room in the mansion seems to hold a special surprise.

The dining room has two pieces of art with carved jade, ivory and coral.

The living room contains a mahogany Chickering grand piano, built in 1919. The surprise? It is a player piano. Tucker said around 200 piano rolls are stored in the library and still in good shape.

In the library, there is an ornate box carved by Emil Roth, who took care of the horses and grounds.

The Ewings’ grandson Ted, a son of Nelson Ewing, gave the box to the foundation with one requirement: “He said, ‘I’ll give it back to you if you put it where it was all of my childhood,” Tucker said.

The box is where Hazle Ewing kept her canasta cards, and she would send young Ted to get them.

Another grandchild, Lucinda “Cindy” Buck Ewing, daughter of Ralph Ewing, also has given many family items to the foundation, Tucker said.

Throughout the house is artwork collected by the Ewings during their world tour from August 1924 to September 1925. A lot of the artwork on display was acquired from the family in the last 18 months, Tucker said.

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Source: The (Bloomington) Pantagraph, https://bit.ly/1fCAeNF

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Information from: The Pantagraph, https://www.pantagraph.com

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