Owners of historic Kansas home uncover trove of secrets
LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (KCTV) - When Thad and Robin Krasnesky bought a 140-year-old home in Leavenworth two years ago, they got more than they bargained for -- but in a good way.
The home has original woodwork, open staircases and stained glass windows. It also has endless secrets to be uncovered.
In 1885, the mansion’s first owner died three months after moving in. It went to his daughter and then his granddaughters, who died in the 1970s.
“In my mind, if you have an old house, there should be skeletons and hidden treasure,” said Krasnesky.
They have yet to locate any skeletons, but they have found treasures.
“We find stuff everywhere,” said Krasnesky. “The stuff that we’ve found is just crazy.”
His first discovery came while he was dusting the top of a bookshelf that’s 12 feet tall. There, Krasnesky found a Civil War presentation cane and pocket watch. He was able to find the owner’s heir and return those treasures to the family.
Someone online then noticed the transoms, one of which was not working. Out of curiosity, Krasnesky took down the painting, pulled out the nails and dug inside. He found a nook with books that were all from 1907 and have titles you’ve probably heard of.
“The Scarlet Letter, Rebecca of Sunny Brook Farm, and Ben-Hur,” Krasnesky said.
Stepping on a loose floorboard while exploring the attic led to the discovery of another hidden treasure.
“I pulled the carpet up, pulled the board up, and -- back in the corner, right here against the fireplace -- I saw a little shiny thing in the back,” Krasnesky recalled. “I stuck my hand back in there and pulled it out, and there were two jars of silver coins.”
A quarter from 1916 and a dime from the 1890s were found in a satchel under another floorboard.
“I’m like a little kid when I get these,” said Krasnesky. “I just want to sit here and play with them because they sound different than clad coins, you know?”
The unexpected discoveries didn’t stop there and continued into the basement.
“When we pulled the shelving aside, we saw that there was this metal thing that was bolted into the stone,” Krasnesky said. “And we’re like, ‘That’s really cool. We should pull that off and see what’s there.’”
Lo and behold, there was a hidden room!
It was half filled with dirt, so finding whatever is hiding in there has become quite a project. Krasnesky recruited friends to help him. They’ve been carefully digging through the dirt and using a bucket brigade to bring it out. They then run it through a sifting contraption, also known as a homemade shaker box with a motor.
It’s a lot of work and it hasn’t paid off yet, but Krasnesky doesn’t mind. He said he just enjoys the adventure.
“Since I do not plan on ever moving ever again, I will stop probably sometime around the time I die,” he said.
The Krasneskys now view themselves as stewards of the home’s history, not just its owners.
“The house is like, ‘Dude, I was here for 140 years before you were here. I’m gonna be here 140 years after you’re gone,’” Krasnesky said.
He is also working to ensure the adventure continues. As he does renovations, he’s putting current newspapers, coins and little notes in nooks and crannies. He hopes it will bring joy to the home’s next residents.
Krasnesky made a Facebook page to chronicle his finds and share pictures of their cats. It is called the Krasnesky Manor for Wayward Cats because the couple rescues felines, nurses them back to health as fosters, then returns them for adoption.
The Krasneskys also host metal detecting parties. The proceeds from one of them benefitted the historical society. Now, he is planning more functions at “the manor” to benefit the local library and animal rescues.
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