A visit to the museum allows the visitor to "step back in time" and experience the Victorian era in Leavenworth County. Once the home of five prominent families, the Carroll Mansion features elaborately hand carved woodwork throughout the house, beautiful stained glass.
Soon after the Kansas-Nebraska Act was signed in 1854, Leavenworth became the first city of Kansas. When Leavenworth County was organized a year later, several other towns in the vicinity, such as Kickapoo and Delaware, vied with Leavenworth to be awarded the county seat. Leavenworth, awarded that honor, soon became known as the great jumping off place for western travelers. The rapidly growing town represented hope and promise to many pioneers and in many ways, characterized the people who would eventually explore and settle in the West. Few had a realistic idea of the trials that the Great Plains presented. Nevertheless, they saw Leavenworth, the budding river city, everything that beckoned them to an unknown future.
Leavenworth continued growing through the latter years of the 1800s and by the 1880s and 1890s, Leavenworth was the most important manufacturing city in Kansas and one of the largest in the entire United States, boasting sixty-seven prosperous and growing industries. It was third in furniture production in the United States, had the second largest mill-machinery plant in the country, led in the manufacture of stoves, and produced over 250,000 tons of coal per year within the city limits.
The thought of forming a historical society came during the planning of Leavenworth's Centennial Celebration in 1954 when interested citizens realized the rapid destruction of significant Leavenworth landmarks. It was actually the Kiwanis Club, then headed by James Fussell, that helped promote the idea. In the fall of 1954, they announced their sponsorship of a "Historic Essay Contest" in order to motivate public interest in the organization of the Leavenworth Historical Society. Formed in December 1954, with a mission to collect, preserve and share the rich history of Leavenworth County, Miss Ella Carroll was a charter member of the society, who then donated her Victorian home in 1964 for a museum.
As the main repository of history in Leavenworth County, it is the business of the Leavenworth County Historical Society to discover, preserve, and share as much information as possible about Leavenworth County in contrast and comparison to larger themes of the history of the state of Kansas and the United States. Being a historic home museum and county historical society, these larger themes are explored through guided tours, special exhibits, programming, research, and publications.