- Associated Press - Friday, February 5, 2016

MCPHERSON, Kan. (AP) - The Vaniman Mansion, 1130 E. Euclid St. in McPherson, has played a role in many lives over the last century - dormitory, art hall, museum, workplace. But for a McPherson family, it’s starting to look like home.

Luke and Alicia Chennell purchased the historic home from the McPherson Museum and Arts Foundation in 2014 and have been renovating to its original 1920s style. They have made significant progress on the first and second floors and will start on the third floor soon.

“We love it. It’s become our home,” Luke Chennell told the McPherson Sentinel (https://bit.ly/20Ctq5N ). “When we bought it, we didn’t think a 6,000-square-foot building would be our home, but it’s become almost cozy.”

Luke Chennell, a faculty member at McPherson College in history and previously auto restoration, explained that original materials were central to the restoration. He has made sure the original wallpaper and color schemes were preserved so rooms feel connected instead of disjointed across time periods.

“The main thing was to keep as much of the original walls as possible, so finding people willing to do the mechanical work while maintaining the original material was a challenge,” Luke Chennell said. “Since it was once a home, converting it back is less challenging.”

The mansion was built in 1921 by Francis A. and Molly Vaniman of McPherson. Francis was the founder and president of People’s State Bank until 1939.

The home was donated to McPherson College in 1959 after the death of Molly Vaniman, and the college used the home as a dormitory, the art department and the McPherson College Museum. The city of McPherson purchased the museum and home in 1997 and it served as the McPherson Museum until the organization moved to their current location at 1111 E. Kansas Ave.

Luke Chennell gave an update on the restoration in a conversation with residents at The Cedars Retirement Community. Several residents either lived or worked in the building and shared stories about their experiences. A man said he enjoyed playing on the third floor as a boy because Francis Vaniman kept pelts and trophies from hunting trips there. Another mentioned that this house was the first house she had seen with a drinking fountain in it. Most residents remembered that the Vanimans put window seats at every window and used a number of French doors.

“The museum took out a lot of doors to keep the space open,” Luke Chennell said. “I rehung 27 doors that I found stacked in the basement.”

Other renovations include a kitchen expansion in the traditional style, a rose garden, new HVAC systems, two half-size bathrooms and wall restorations.

“It’s a constant project, but it’s worthwhile because of the deep connections with people in the community,” Chennell said.


Information from: The McPherson (Kan.) Sentinel, https://www.mcphersonsentinel.com

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