Sunday, May 10, 2009

Historic Northeast Mansions: Volume 1, Garfield Heights

Welcome to Garfield Heights the home of Kent T. Dicus and Michael G. Ohlson, Sr. Located in the Pendleton Heights Neighborhood of Historic Northeast Kansas City this 1887 mansion has 7,000 square feet of living space filled with artistic and historic treasures. It was built by Charles Leach, a lumber baron, who spared no expense on design or in the use of many wonderful woods throughout his home. It remained a private home until 1915 when the Helping Hand Institute moved into it and the Jefferson Home for Women then used the space
and built a 32 room dormitory onto the back of the house. This actually helped save the home from being subdivided into small apartments. William Volker had purchased the home in 1921 for $12,000 and donated it to the Helping Hand. Later the house was a retirement home until the 1990s. The dormitory structure was torn down after the home returned to private hands. One of the great things about living in Northeast is the devotion to history shown in the loving preservation of historic structures. Thanks to Kent and Michael who let me photograph their wonderful home.

Entering through the front door the visitor to Garfield Heights sees very much the same interior that Charles Leach saw in 1887. Note the first of eight fireplaces on the far wall and the staircase made of white oak.
To your immediate right is one of many curved spaces at the end of a short hallway... allowed by the towers, a prominent part of Queen Anne architecture.
Looking toward the front of the house the curtained doorway to the formal living room is visible.
In both the architecture of the house and the interior design, it's the attention to detail that is noticeable. There are 23 stained glass windows in the home.

The formal living room walls are hung with portraits of family members of both Michael and Kent. Many of the furnishings throughout the house have been handed down from generation to generation in both families. None of the rooms in the house are perfectly square or rectangular owing to the towers placed along the outer walls. This creates many a warm nook.

Right off the living room is the music room.

Incidentally, the globe ceiling lights in the music room came from Annie Chambers "house". For those of you not familiar with Kansas City history Annie ran one of the most famous bordellos in KC for years.
View toward the formal dining room and hallway. Note the portrait over the mantel. It is of Kent's great-great grandmother and her daughter. The mantel is made of satinwood. There are nine kinds of wood used throughout the home.

Looking across into the formal living room the entryway visible on the left.

Looking north through the door of the music room into the formal dining area.

Luckily almost all doors and pocket doors and their hardware were intact when the house was returned to private hands.

The side entrance where carriages used to pull up is still in place.. This view greets one as he enters from the side of the house.

This is the library top photo looking toward the front of the house, bottom photo toward the rear.

All along the staircase to the second floor are paintings of family members done in oil from photographs. The lady in red on the right is the grown-up child from the picture of mother and daughter over the mantel in the music room.

Michael is a collector of masks... and the result decorates the wall at the top of the stairs to the second floor.
By the way.... in case there are any bad surfers out there... the house is fully alarmed and, more importantly, is protected by two cats... Tommy and Boots .


  1. Wow, that Library is freaking amazing.

  2. Ahhhh . . Perspective correction warms my heart. Impressive inside and out!

  3. Thanks for these awesome photos. I've always been curious about this home. I also just recently explored the area North of this mansion, which in all my years in the neighborhood, have never visited. (Mike told me to check out the castle over there.)

  4. elBryan.... the Tiffany Castle.... I would kill to be able to photograph inside it... it's my understanding that it's pretty much mint inside. I need to finagle an introduction to the home owners. Keep your fingers crossed.

  5. Wow! but there is no way I ever see myself living in a house like this. too much stuff

  6. Very typical of the Victorian era ... a very faithful recreation of the decorating mode.

  7. Reminds me a bit of my old place in Richmond. It was nice, for a while, but m.v. is right. Too much "stuff". I've downsized twice since then and probably still have too much stuff. I've become a minimalist.

    Nice pictures, though.

  8. Great shots. A step into the past.

  9. re: tiffany castle.

    i've been in it. it's awesome. very period looking except for the modern things like appliances and tv's. the wood work is incredible. it is owned by a former nun from samoa, if you can believe that. it's true. don't know how she came to be in k.c., but i gained access because one of her nephews came from samoa about 10 years ago to go to school at umkc and he lived there while here. a friend of mine was also going there at the time and they became friends and so that's how i met him and her. i've been in it about 10 times.

    this pic of mine of the house was published in a book called "weird missouri" which is a book in a whole series of weird states books.

  10. Thanks for posting this. We have watched that house over the years and were glad when someone bought it and began refurbishing it. What a jewel. The hard work really paid off. Thanks for taking such great photos!

  11. i would not be able to live there, either. edith wharton would not like it much, either, i believe, but i wonder how much they pay the housecleaner (certainly there must be one). merrily, i troll along. no, i'm not really good at cleaning. i think d. castle tried to gain more recent access to the tiffany castle and found that owner was very private. but, everyone is different! you never know … and, i might have my houses confused. yay for homes-tours, during which you could have seen the garfield one and lots of other great places like the heim mansion over the years. check the northeast news, the hyde park neighborhood association and historic kansas city foundation web sites for upcoming ones in the kc area.

  12. Amazing photos! I would (almost) sell my soul for that table lamp!

  13. how can i contact Michael and or Kent about the possibility of a photoshoot? this is the most exquisite house! i work for a local women's clothing boutique, and it would be the perfect location to shoot our pieces!

    my email is please let me know if this is possible. thank you for posting & sharing!!!! i'm inspired :)

  14. What a crazy, gorgeous house. Seems like a cross between Biltmore in North Carolina, and something out of a William Faulkner novel.

  15. Hi David! I hope all is well. I want you to know I misplaced your email address. I want to extend an invitation to you...Please feel free to email me at (my casual address is

  16. Great job indeed. The victorian aesthetic at its best!This is the result of knowledge and love. You have created a lovely nest you boys!Why there are not photos from your master bedroon? Receive my sencere congratulations for this wonderful recreation.