Sunday, July 10, 2011


We had noticed this house from the road years ago and hoped to someday get the chance to tour it.
So, last weekend when Jim was surfing the internet checking out interesting things to do, he noticed there was an annual Ice Cream Social and house tour at the Maclay House in Tipton.  We thought “This is perfect!  We’ve been wanting to see that house for ages!”
We headed up Highway 50, through Tipton, on to Highway 5, since we knew that is where the house is located.  But when we got there, we were the only ones there.  It didn’t take us more than two seconds (maybe only one) to figure out we had our homes mixed up and there really was a mansion IN Tipton, not north of Tipton, that really was giving tours and was having an ice cream social.  But, there was an OPEN sign on the gate of what we now knew is RAVENSWOOD.  What the heck.  We were there and this is the house we’d been wanting to see, so we walked around until someone came out.
I will have to tell you it was a little bit like stepping back in time.  The “tour guide” was apparently a caretaker who happened to give tours if someone showed up.  After we paid the $14 admission (we let him keep all $20… just because…), inside we headed.  I was occasionally put off by his wife-beater almost white t-shirt, and once white, very stained jeans.  We held our nose (seriously) and  pushed ahead. 
Ravenswood was built in 1880, and six generations later, remains in private ownership in the same family.  It and the 2000 acres that go with it is in a trust and cannot be sold.  We’ve heard that in many ways the family consider it a bit of an albatross around their necks. 
Over the years few changes have been made to the house.  Electricity and indoor toilets were added at some point.  My heart ached for the dismal state it was in.  Some rooms were kept in the “period”, others were mostly junk, and yet others were a mixture of the past and present.  It was all very confusing.
I think since we tipped George $6, he not only took us through the house, but also up the rickety stairs to the crows nest, and down into the moldy, damp, basement.
In the basement was a “gentleman’s room”, with a door only 18 to 20 inches wide.  This is where the men went when they wanted to drink or smoke, since neither were allowed on any other floor of the house.  The story is that the door was made narrow on purpose so that no woman in the full hooped dresses of that time period could get through the door into the men’s territory.   Supposedly the room was very elaborate at the time.  All we could see in the darkness was water/dirt covered floors and what looked like faded leather wallpaper.
Sometimes, mistakes are good.  This was one of those times.  But, next year we are going to try to make it to the annual Ice Cream Social at the Maclay house!


Cheryl @ The Farmer's Daughter said...

I knew as soon as I saw the photo of the mansion that it was not in Tipton! We've driven past Ravenswood on the way to the Lake of the Ozarks countless times over the last 40 years. It's a shame to see the way it's gone down hill over the years. I can remember when it was really beautiful and looked like it was a thriving farm. But you know in all these years, we've never stopped to take the tour. It's one of those things we meant to do, but never did. I'm so glad you shared your tour with us, Deanna. It was fun to see!

That corgi :) said...

Can you imagine the house in its elegance, its "heyday" so to speak. How grand it is now, how grand it was then. I can imagine the parties, the men descending, the women gathering, discussing what one did during those times. It is interesting none of the family embraced it to really try to preserve it; such a fascinating piece of history. I would have enjoyed the tour, been thinking a lot of why it was made to be the trust it was, why wasn't anything done with it etc. Maybe it wasn't the house you guys intended to go to, but I sure enjoyed the tour you gave us!


Queenie Jeannie said...

That was so cool!!!! What a lucky mistake you guys made! I would have loved seeing that in person, so thank you for sharing those pictures. It's a shame the family doesn't appreciate what a jewel they have. I'd sooooo love to live in a house like that, surrounded by such gorgeous, period items!! I wonder what treasures are in that attic??? They are probably sitting on a gold mine of antiques!!! *sigh* Fun to daydream, isn't it???

ChicagoLady said...

I agree with Jeannie, I too was wondering what wonderful things you could come across if given the opportunity to sift through all that "junk" in the attic. It's a shame the house has not been fully kept up. I would love to take that tour, and am so glad you and Jim decided to go ahead inside and let us see it with you.

tmarie said...

That is the same house we went to, Mom. I think we might have had the same 'tour guide'!

Toriz said...

That's great that you finally got a look around the place (despite it "technically" being the wrong place). Such a shame it's been left to get in that state though! :(

Rita said...

That was fascinating!
Maybe it's like many families--you force them to keep something in the family, forbid them to sell anything, and it costs an arm and a leg for upkeep--they just don't give a rip what happens to it. How sad! If it had been sold it might have been lovingly taken care of all these years. Sad.
But I'm glad you got to visit and showed us all the pictures!! Too bad it couldn't be made into a proper museum.

AliceKay said...

Thank you for the tour. I enjoyed the visit. (especially that shot from the crows nest)

It's a shame someplace as beautiful as that mansion is is decaying from lack of attention. I would imagine it would cost quite a deal to bring it back to what it was in it's "heyday", but wouldn't it be great if that were to happen?

I hope you have a great time next year attending the Ice Cream Social at the Mcclay House. :)

GardenofDaisies (Gayle) said...

It is such a beautiful old house. But I think it's sad that a family does not live there and keep it up. It is sorely in need of some love.

Intense Guy said...

You made a beautiful slide show!!

Those "Victorian decors" are really eye-"filling" they are so dizzy-busy! and so large too! I wonder how many people were employed in it's heyday to keep it all nice and sparking?

Hugs! I hope you are well!

Anonymous said...

I would love to see that house in person, I love old houses and I am always wondering what kind of families lived in them and it is sad when the big pretty ones are just sitting there slowly fading away. Thanks for sharing HUGS!

Pix at Under the Oaks said...

Deanna we did this place for Book Club a couple years ago. I thought the whole thing was kind of creepy and it freaked me out. But worth the visit. It did have the weirdest odor. I could hardly wait to get out of there and eat lunch with the gals! I think the Ice Cream Social sounds like a good plan for next year :)