History of Loose Mansion

LOOSE MANSION: ENJOY A PART OF KANSAS CITY HISTORY

The Loose Family, and the beautiful home they built, have historic significance in Kansas City. Today we are proudly listed on the National Historic Registry, and still as in the past, home to our city’s most exquisite events. We are honored to be able to share this family’s fascinating story and incredible home.

DEVOTED TO EACH OTHER

Jacob Leander Loose and Ella Anne Clark, husband and wife, were deeply devoted to each other. This is evident in their grand displays of affection: Loose Mansion and Loose Park. Jacob built our four-story mansion for his beautiful wife as the perfect location for her to host elegant evenings. Jacob had a nickname for Ella, “Sunshine,” and for this reason, he ordered “S’s” to be hand-carved in the mahogany Grand Staircase. Following Jacob’s death, Ella donated a larger than life-size statue of Jacob and 80 acres to the city for a park that will “never be built on, and always enjoyed.” To this day, both the mansion and the park are sites for beautiful wedding ceremonies and love stories.

 

THE INVESTMENT

Although Jacob made his fortune in the cookie and candy business, the money to build Loose Mansion actually came from another source. Jacob and his brother, Joseph, each gave $10,000 to a friend who subsequently discovered copper in the Northwest. Their investment was multiplied tenfold … no wait, tenfold times tenfold with a payoff of $1,000,000 for each brother! Jacob adored his wife and told her that she could have anything she wanted with the windfall from this investment. Ella said that she wanted to return to Kansas City (living in Chicago at the time) and build a beautiful home that is perfect for entertaining.

 

BUILDING A MASTERPIECE

The Loose Mansion was built over a three year period starting in 1907 with completion in 1909 at a cost of $250,000. The Washington D.C. architect hired by the Loose’s was well known for building embassies. Although a private home, it was designed for entertaining large groups and constructed to be extremely solid with cement flooring. There are high ceilings, extremely wide doorways, and multiple ways in and out of every space. Huge pocket doors were installed to allow for larger areas to become smaller when needed for more intimate settings.

Upon completion, the mansion and it’s Carriage House totaled more than 17,000 square feet, and included 11 fireplaces (8 remain), 12 bathrooms (now 14), and 12 balconies. Originally, the Grand Salon and Music Room areas on the main level were intended for entertaining, the Dining Room for dinner service, the Cigar and Billiards Room in the lower level for additional entertaining and cocktails, and the 3rd level Ballroom for dinners and dancing. The second level housed their living quarters and bedrooms, a study for Jacob and a Receiving Room. There were servant quarters in the Southeast corner of the 3rd level. While performing their duties, servants used a separate staircase adjacent to the Grand Staircase.

SOME OF OUR FAVORITE HISTORIC CHARACTERISTICS

Some of our favorite historic characteristics include:
  • Dining Room Tiffany Chandelier
  • Imported Italian Tile Flooring
  • Hand Carved Phillippine Mahogany
  • The Bible Fireplace
  • The Grand Staircase
  • Marble Foyer with Brass Railings
  • Ornate Dome Ceiling in Foyer
  • Fireplace Tile with Jacob’s Name
  • Loose Family Safe
  • Ella Loose’s Jewelry Safe
  • High Security Bank Safe

 

THE CARRIAGE HOUSE

The Carriage House, located on the South side of the mansion, is 2,200 square feet and was originally home to three of the Loose’s full time servants on the top floor, and Jacob’s 1907 Packard Limousine in what used to be a garage on the bottom floor. Today, the Carriage House is our adorable Bed & Breakfast.

BUILDING A MASTERPIECE PART 2

The Saathoff Family purchased Loose Mansion in 2003. Their dedication to the home and Kansas City’s history is evident throughout the mansion. Keeping the integrity of the home has always been of utmost importance to them. The Saathoff’s have restored the entire mansion and Carriage House, including extensive updates to electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems, along with resurfacing roofs and rebuilding balconies.

A few of our favorite enhancements include:

  • Recreating and Expanded the Third Level Ballroom
  • Custom Stained Glass Window with Loose Family Crest
  • 60 feet of Original Wall Murals by Dan Brewer, Local Artist & Historian
  • Recreating the Second Level Parlor & Outdoor Portico Deck
  • Restoration of Jacob’s Study as a Bridal Suite
  • Portraits of Jacob and Ella Loose
  • Creating a Bed & Breakfast in the Carriage House

A SELF MADE MAN

Jacob Loose left school in Illinois at age 16 and took a job earning $5 a week. Four years later, he and his brother, Joseph, opened a dry goods store in Chetopa, Kansas. In 1878, he married Ella Clark of Carthage, Missouri. Jacob founded the American Biscuit Company in 1880.

By 1898, the company owned 17 regional bakeries across the United States. The American Biscuit Company then merged with the National Biscuit Company (NABISCO) in 1899. Shortly after the merger, Jacob became ill and he and Ella moved to England for several years. In 1902, Jacob, his brother, and John H. Wiles formed the Loose-Wiles Biscuit Company in Kansas City, which was renamed Sunshine Biscuits in 1946.

In 1905, Jacob and his company were responsible for inventing the Hydrox cookie. And in 1917, they introduced the soda cracker. Jacob’s companies developed creative packaging for their products, and many of them quickly became collector’s items. By 1925, Loose-Wiles employed 30,000 people throughout the United States.

After a serious illness, Jacob Loose semi-retired in 1919 and died at his summer home in Gloucester, Massachusetts in 1923. Their beautiful ocean-side estate home no longer stands.

THE SOCIETY DOWAGER

Ella Loose gave birth to two children, but sadly both died as infants. Ella was well known for being strong willed, compassionate, and generous, and for her lavish parties while entertaining for the benefit of both their business and community.

At age 60, “Kansas City’s No. 1 Society Dowager” activated a plan to conquer Washington, D.C. society. For years, she was a popular party hostess and donor there, and often a White House guest and friends with several Presidents and many dignitaries.

AMERICA’S MOST NOTABLE GATHERING OF MILITARY HEROES

Shortly after World War I, Jacob and Ella Loose were actively involved in the Liberty Memorial Association which was created to build a lasting National memorial in Kansas City to those who offered and gave their lives in defense of liberty and our country. On November 1, 1921, the site for the Liberty Memorial was to be dedicated, and the five Allied military leaders met in Kansas City to speak to a crowd of 200,000 people. This groundbreaking event was the only time in history that these leaders were together in one place. In attendance were Lieutenant General Baron Jacques of Belgium, General Armando Diaz of Italy, Marshal Ferdinand Foch of France, General John J. Pershing of the United States, and Admiral David Beatty of Great Britain.

HOUSE GUESTS AT LOOSE MANSION

The Loose’s enjoyed entertaining a few of the military heroes in town for the Liberty Memorial dedication. This photo was taken before the dedication and shows Jacob and Ella Loose on the front porch of Loose Mansion with General Armando Diaz of Italy standing between them. The two officers on the right side of the photo were aides to General Diaz. These included General De Luca, who is next to Mrs. Loose. The man on the far right with a cross on his helmet was a Dragoon (cavalry) officer, perhaps Major De Mierry, but this is not a definite identification. The American officer on the far left in the photo is an unidentified officer assigned as escort to General Diaz. An enlargement of this photo is proudly displayed in the mansion’s main level Sun Porch.

THE QUEEN (ELLA’S FRIEND) VISITS LOOSE MANSION

Five years later on November 11, 1926, many dignitaries returned to Kansas City to celebrate the dedication of the completed National World War I Liberty Memorial. Kansas City residents were thrilled that Queen Marie of Romania, her daughter, Princess Ileana, and her son, Prince Nicolas, traveled by train, arriving at Union Station just in time for the dedication ceremony. Queen Marie was extremely popular in Romania and throughout the world. Her popularity in her lifetime has been compared to Princess Diana in ours. During WWI, the Queen’s popularity grew enormously due to her devoted service in the Red Cross caring for wounded soldiers in military hospitals. Marie’s grandmother was England’s Queen Victoria. At age 17, Marie married Ferdinand of Romania, and was crowned Queen in 1914. The Queen and her two children were greeted at Union Station by thousands of Kansas City residents just hoping to get a glimpse of them. Upon leaving Union Station, they went directly to the memorial, and then were quickly taken to several small events around Kansas City.

They ended their tour by coming to Loose Mansion at 10:45 pm to visit their good friend, Ella Loose, who was then a widow. According to the Kansas City newspaper, Ella entertained them for about an hour in the Receiving Room on the 2nd level of the mansion, which is the room we now use to meet with our clients to plan their events. When the Queen and her children left the mansion, the newspaper reported that there were “crushing masses of people that surrounded Loose Mansion making the porches and driveways impassible.”

SUPPORTING KC / THE PHILANTHROPISTS

Jacob was a generous benefactor who started the Children’s Mercy Hospital endowment fund with $25,000 in 1913. Jacob Loose donated the incredible United States flag staff to Swope Park on July 4, 1915. For over 30 years, Ella provided new shoes and spending money for orphans at Kansas City’s Gillis Home. Jacob and Ella also gifted chimes to various local churches, and they enjoyed hearing them ring throughout the city.

The Loose’s most visible legacy is Loose Park at 52nd and Wornall Road, once the Kansas City Country Club. Mrs. Loose bought the land for $500,000 and gave it to the city in 1927 as a memorial to her husband. It continues to be one of the most beautiful parks in Kansas City, and home to many wedding ceremonies. Every year, we have couples who “tie the knot” in the park’s gorgeous Rose Garden and then head to Loose Mansion to celebrate with a gorgeous reception.

Jacob’s Last Will and Testament created the Million Dollar Charity Fund, and upon Ella’s death in September of 1945, most of their estate went to the Million Dollar Charity Fund, in spite of various lawsuits filed by relatives. This fund helped launch today’s Greater Kansas City Community Foundation and Affiliated Trusts, which still plays a significant role in the Kansas City community.

MANSION GHOSTS

What would a mansion be without ghosts?

The legend of Loose Mansion’s ghosts has been passed down from owner to owner. The presence of ghosts was substantiated in 1985 by a professional medium who worked on the HBO film crew during the filming of the HBO movie, “Truman,” a movie about President Harry Truman. She and others involved with this project observed the ghosts a number of times as they spent many long nights in the mansion filming scenes for the movie. According to legend and the movie crew, two ghosts move about the mansion, elegantly dressed in white. They are said to descend the mansion’s grand staircase late at night, arm in arm. They love to dance in the mansion’s ballroom.

The presence of ghosts was again substantiated in October 2008 by P.A.R. Investigations, a group of professional ghost hunters, sponsored by Radio 106.5 the WOLF for a fun Halloween segment. The ghost hunters were interviewed by the morning show following a night in the mansion using high tech computer, video and sound equipment to try to capture proof. According to this group, there was evidence of ghosts. The sound tapes were particularly fascinating. After the evening in the mansion, one of the ghost hunters told the owners they believed it was Jacob Loose visiting the mansion that evening, and he does this periodically to enjoy time in his study and to check in on the current owners. They believed he was pleased with the owners and what they are doing with his mansion! Whew!

Members of the Loose Mansion staff and contractors have experienced some unexplained happenings with lights, sounds, music, a window being repeatedly open, and motion detectors going off… which we like to attribute to our fun loving ghosts. We’ve also had a few guests, including a lovely bride at the end of her reception, tell us they have seen or felt their presence.