August 18, 2007
While reading here, Walking Prescott: The Mysterious Staircase, I was reminded of my own
fascination of old staircases. I remember some that I saw a few years ago, which were really interesting.
The staircase was in an old house, called Kelly's Mansion, and located on Kelly's Island, Ohio, which is located in the Western basin of Lake Erie, and is about four miles square. It's the largest fresh water American Island in Lake Erie. There is a ferry service from Marblehead, and air transportation from Sandusky, Ohio.
I visited there several years ago, when it was just a rustic, nearly primitive, little place with only a few little stores, such as an old grocery store, and various other things. It was a place to camp, to explore, and the glacial grooves, carved into the limestone more than thirty thousand years ago, are there.
Kelly's Mansion was about the only place to stay while there, being used as a hotel of sorts. In its present state then, it was not fancy, but certainly interesting.
According to information available, Irad and Datus Kelly visited the island on July 12, 1833, and by August 31, 1861, they had purchased all except 91 acres for four-thousand-four-hundred-seventy-five dollars...and six cents! They later acquired the other 91 acres.
Kelly's Mansion had been built by Datus Kelly, as a wedding present for his son, Addison. In the front part of the house was a grand spiral staircase.
According to information available, Mr. Kelly had met a man from England in New York who had built one like it, and commissioned him to build one like it for the mansion.
It was constructed from one solid piece of oak, about twenty feet high. The steps were constructed in groups of three, using no nails, and is self-supportive. It was transported by boat from London, England.
During the years that the Kelly family were in residence there, the back stairs were used by the servants whose living quarters were upstairs. On those stairs, imprints are visible...footprints forged there over the years by the many trips their feet made up and down those stairs!
The Kelly Mansion was purchased in 1933, by the Domican Sisters of Adrienne, Michigan, which they used as a retreat and educational center. From 1945 until 1957 it was a summer camp for over 8,000 girls over the years.
The nuns, and twenty of the girls in residence, restored the staircase to its original conditiion. After the restoration, the stairs were used for graduatiion purposes only, when the girls would be allowed to descend the staircase.
This is a sketch that I did of the Kelly Mansion when I visted there.
Posted by Jan at 11:02 AM