Whether from a glance on the surrounding lawn, or a peak through a window on the inside looking outwards; the Conrad Mansion’s gorgeous view is so much that it might come as complete shock to passersby that there’s more to this place than just its ocular charm.
To attest to this is Cindy Conner, a former tour-guide turned manager, whose familiarity and love for the Conrad Mansion seemed to shine through every word she spoke about it.
“What’s fascinating is that people really don’t know just how much is inside until they come,” Conner said from an adorably small office that sits at the back of the Gift-Shop, which, for those who don’t know, is chalk full of neat stuff. Beside the table of conversation stood a cat, “Sweetie-Pie,” perched on the ledge of somebody’s work desk. “She’ll come on tours” Cindy laughed, as the famous cat prepared to stick a landing. Sweetie-Pie has been around the Mansion for as long as Cindy, an impressive 13 years, and continues to this day to scamper around the house, and in the event of a tour, wonder along underfoot.
We sat down with Ms. Conner to get a deeper look into the mechanics of what really goes on inside the mansion. She answered every question with an endearingly warm smile, which breathed a certain honesty only found in truly dedicated people. The enthusiasm was palpable.
To conjoin this enthusiasm was a statement she made when asked about the nature of her work. “…This place is owned by the city of Kalispell, but we do the work to keep it and running. We do the maintenance, we do the lawn care, and we do pretty much everything needed to keep it in good condition for tours…And that is not an easy job.”
The 1890’s mansion boasts 3 floors, 26 rooms, and 8 sandstone fireplaces over 13,000 square feet, so one can only imagine how hard it must be to arrange everything to stay in a particular condition. Over 90 percent of the furnishings in the house are original to the Conrad Family, including an impressive collection of artwork, books, firearms, taxidermy, and three generations of children’s toys and dolls.
The Mansion itself was donated to the city of Kalispell in 1976, in loose and boarded disorder, in the hopes of both reparation and maintaining the important Conrad Family legacy. Now, over 40 years later, it is completely redone and still holds true to its mission to maintain an interesting past of Kalispell’s most historic family.
Between the humongous structure, the expansive and trimmed lawn, and the decorative inside, visiting the Conrad Mansion is almost definably a perfect way to spend your afternoon. Not only is it an interesting story, and a visual masterpiece, but it is also made daily residence of warm, caring, dedicated, and exceedingly pleasant people such as Ms. Cindy Conner, who in just about twenty minutes safely convinced us to come take a tour, without ever having solicited a single thing.
In essence; what’s left behind in that house is enough to satisfy any curious mind.
The Conrad Mansion officially opens May 16, but offers off-season tours year-round for $18 per person if booked in advance. After May 16, tours run Wednesday through Sunday every 10:00am and 4:00pm and the same times every Tuesday through Sunday from June 12 through October 15. For more information, visit www.conradmansion.com or call (406) 755-2166.