#91 – The Vaile Mansion
1500 N Liberty St, Independence, MO 64050
Good for: Design inspo, home envy.
Tip: Visit around Christmastime, the mansion is decorated to max.
The Vaile Mansion is a 31-room historic mansion in the heart of Independence, Missouri. Built by businessman and politician, Harvey Vaile, in 1881, the mansion was an extreme show of wealth.
History of the Vaile Mansion
Colonel Harvey Vaile was a businessman and politician who built his wealth in a variety of business ventures, the most successful being mail routes to the West. With this newfound wealth, the Vailes hired architect, Asa B. Cross, to build their mansion on a 630-acre estate, complete with a vineyard and apple orchard. Cross built an exquisite home, and to this day, the Vaile Mansion is one of the best examples of Second Empire style architecture in the United States.
The mansion took 10 years to construct, and included the finest luxuries of the time, including indoor running water, nine fireplaces featuring marble from around the world, flushing toilets and a 48,000 gallon wine cellar. The 14-feet high ceilings are exquisitely painted and the brick that adorns the exterior was hand pressed on site.
Around the time of the mansion’s completion, Vaile was involved in a few scandals surrounding his mail routes. Shortly after the scandal, Valie’s wife, Sophia, was diagnosed with stomach cancer and later found dead from a morphine overdose. Her death was rumored to be a suicide, and afterwards, Harvey never finished the third floor of the home.
Upon Harvey’s death in 1895, the mansion fell into several hands, including a sanatorium, a nursing home and a spring water bottling company. On the verge of demolition, Mary Mildred Dewitt, a locally renowned preservationist saved the estate. A non-profit group was then established to restore the home to its original state and give tours.
About the Visit
Tours of the mansion are wonderful. The 30-minute tours are given by extremely knowledgeable and kind volunteers. Each room and piece in the home has a story to be told, and the volunteers know it all. Though the mansion’s original furniture has long been auctioned off, the Vaile Victorian Society has done wonderful job outfitting the museum with pieces from the time period.
After exploring the massive mansion, take the time to enjoy the outside of the estate, too. There are beautiful gardens and fountains in the surrounding 5 acres.
Throughout the year, the Vaile Mansion hosts special events like the Strawberry Festival, a celebration of antiques, collectibles, entertainment and sweet treats. The mansion is also closed for the month of November to be decorated extensively for Christmas. Each room even has its own theme.
The mansion is conveniently close to lots of great Independence attractions like the Harry Truman home, the Harry Truman Presidential Library and the Independence Square.
The volunteers at Vaile Mansion made me promise to come back around Christmas to enjoy the mansion in its decorations and I cannot wait. xx, Libbie.