The Strawberry Hill Mansion Museum is not a haunted house.
Case in point: Their website contains a designated “No Ghosts” section. To summarize: “We are boring old fuddy-duddies. Kindly usee your EMF readers to measure the paranormal activity up your ass.”
The Strawberry Hill Mansion Museum sits on a hill overlooking I-70.
This is too bad, because the possibility of glimpsing the “lady in red,” a bloodied, spectral figure who sometimes pops in to greet visitors, is what first drew me to the 125-year-old mansion on a Halloween ghost hunting expedition two years ago. Unfortunately the museum was closed; now that I know their official position on ghosts, I understand why.
One thing the museum does right, though, is Christmas. My friend Bridget is a Strawberry Hill native who grew up attending the adjoining church and school. When we visited the museum last weekend, we parted ways with our tour and showed ourselves around.
The view of Kansas City, Missouri, from the mansion’s porch.
It was better that way — it really was. I loved seeing the place through Bridget’s eyes and watching as she pointed out family members and classmates in the photos hanging on the walls. Upstairs, rooms that used to house orphans and nuns are now dedicated to the holiday traditions of each ethnic group represented in the original Strawberry Hill neighborhood, which was primarily Croatian, including Bridget’s family.
Bridget and I are also both suckers for a top-notch holiday display. If we decorated a house together, the style would be “shabby chic meets Clark Griswold and Adrian Monk.”
The Strawberry Hill chapel.
Photos weren’t allowed, but I did manage to snap a few shots before an old man asked me to stop. Afterward, Bridget and I ate at a hole-in-the-wall barbecue joint down the street, and I was reminded that, although it is only a few minutes from my home, Kansas City, Kansas, feels like not just another city or state, but an alternate universe about which I know nothing. And for that I love it.