Atchison is home to a vast collection of stately, turn-of-the-century Victorian mansions, and the three-story brick Queen Anne on Fourth Street is one of the most impressive. Built in 1885 by lumber merchant George Howell, the 14-room beauty boasts a slate roof, eyebrow windows, and an inviting wraparound porch. For several years prior to construction, Mr. Howell carefully collected magnificent woods of oak, walnut, and mahogany to handcraft this masterpiece.
Handsome parquet floors and hand carved woodwork can be found throughout, and especially unique are the carvings of the faces on the ornate newel posts in the lower hall. The eight faces are said to represent the Howell family. Cast bronze hardware is found on all the doors. Other notable details are the original fireplace tiles (each representing a theme), fireboxes, fenders and bronze fireplace trim. Embossed leather is found on the paneling in the dining room and both lower and upper halls. Beautifully etched glass embellishes the transoms above the bedroom doors on the second floor. Stunning stained glass windows in unique jewel-toned colors brighten the solarium, dominate the second-floor landing and adorn the top panels of the parlors and dining room windows.
The Muchnic family purchased the home in 1922 for $ 9,000. Triple parlors span the length of the house and feature fine parquet floors and stain glass transoms. The paintings in the library are portraits done in the late 1930’s; Mr. H.E. Muchnic (over mantle); Mrs. H.E. Muchnic (on North wall); Mr. Wm. H Muchnic, son (left of window); Mrs. Elizabeth Muchnic Mize, daughter (right of window); and Mr. Wm. M. Quigley, Mrs. Muchnic’s father (in tower). A large antique French console table and mirror in the third parlor once belonged to the actress, Marie Dressler. The mirrors in the lower and upper halls were among the original furnishings in the house. Although they had been removed from the house, the Muchnics were able to acquire them and restore them to their original setting. The Muchnics were very hospitable and loved to share their home with friends. Traditionally they entertained two generations of friends with a gala New Year’s Eve dance. A midnight buffet was customarily served in the Muchnic’s dining room on a massive mahogany table with a deep-grained inlaid border pattern, matching chairs and buffet. The three connecting parlors were cleared of furniture except on the perimeter; glittering candles sparkled before the mirrors on the mantles, and the entire lower floor was decorated with Christmas greens. An orchestra played for over 200 dancing guests.
The house is now owned and maintained by The Muchnic Foundation, which has graciously made it available to the community. Since 1970 the house has been dedicated to exhibition space for the Atchison Art Association. Art classes, special events and rotating exhibits of some of our region’s finest artists are featured throughout the year.
Open 1 – 5 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday; closed January – March. Minimal fee.