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Behind the Scenes at the McConnell Mansion

Following the original "Visit to the McConnell Mansion in Pictures" post last month, we received a few requests for a photo tour of the "unseen" areas of the Mansion - basement, attic, and anything in between. These areas can be just as interesting as the more polished public museum, but for a variety of reasons are off-limits to the average visitor. A photo tour sounded like a great idea!


I decided to start at the bottom. Cellars are not very easy to photograph; they're dark, cramped, and usually full of spiders. I am not particularly a fan of being wrapped in spiderwebs, but as your intrepid photographer, I sallied forth to find a few good shots.


From the outside, the entry to the basement doesn't look like much, but from the inside this old door has some serious character. Imagine the difference here with natural light coming in through those windows. And the glass doorknob is a lovely bit of sparkle in this dark space.


The basement also offers a great view of the original stone foundation of the house. They certainly don't make them like this anymore!



Coming around to the back of the Mansion, let's look at the original cellar stairs off the kitchen. For safety reasons, they are no longer in use, but I think the dust of disuse adds a certain old house charm.



Next: a maintenance closet up on the second floor. The McConnell Mansion was the first house in Moscow with indoor plumbing and this was one of the original bathrooms. Most of the fixtures have long since been removed, leaving only this very cool - and very small - triangular sink and cabinet set in a corner.



In another storage room on the second floor can be found an unusually narrow door with an equally dainty transom window above it. What kind of closet is this?



Not a closet at all of course! It's the entrance to the attic.



These stairs are narrow and steep and a little daunting. But this space also gives us an interesting, up close and personal look at the inside of the walls.



The attic is mostly used for storage of miscellaneous items of unknown provenance, whose shelves are pictured here with protective coverings during the roof replacement project last summer.



A few items of interest:




Since we're up here, let's check out the roof!


Looking northwest - definitely a different view of Russell School
Looking southwest - note the university's "I" water tower in the distance
Looking south, 1912 Center to the left

And a closer look at one of those beautiful chimneys, the newly-restored ridgecombs, and decorative shingles.



One of my favorite little details here is this bit of graffiti on the inside of the roof access hatch:


Penciled writing inside roof access hatch: "12-4-1924, [?] McConnell and E.E."

This is so intriguing! The Adair family owned the Mansion in 1924, and while their daughters were friends with the McConnell daughters, the date seems to be a bit later than that of a "schoolgirls hanging out on the roof of the old house" scenario. And who was E.E.? I haven't yet had the opportunity to ask around or do any further research, but I can't wait to find out more.


Finally, because what goes up must come down, here's another shot of those attic stairs, with my average-size feet for reference:



Thank you for joining us for this behind-the-scenes photo tour. We look forward to being able to once again share the McConnell Mansion in person, as well as everything else in the LCHS collection! Elaina Pierson Office Coordinator Latah County Historical Society Additional information for this article was found in:

McConnell Mansion & its Residents, by Nancy Ruth Peterson. "The McConnell Mansion," by Karen Broenneke, Latah Legacy, Fall 1980-Winter 1981. All images courtesy of Elaina Pierson.

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© 2020 by the Latah County Historical Society.

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