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Visiting the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum

In early November I had the opportunity to visit Mansfield, Missouri for the Laura Ingalls Widler Children's Literature Festival. (Linked to my previous blog post about the festival...and a certain fiddle.) I also had the chance to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home & Museum (LIWHHM) three times during my visit. 
For those of you who aren't familiar with the LIWHHM, there are actually three buildings that are part of the complex. 

The museum (pictured below on the right, center), includes a self-guided tour.
Rocky Ridge Farmhouse (pictured below large) is the house that Laura designed and Almanzo built. 
The Rock House (pictured below right, top) is the home that Almanzo and Laura's daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, built for them. 
Let's start our little tour at the museum. Photos weren't allowed in the museum itself, so the photos below are from the museum entrance, bookstore, and outer displays. 

Photos starting at the top and going clockwise:
A display case within the bookstore actually holds my book! 
The LIWHHM store has lots of copies of so many Wilder-related books, including signed copies of The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide.
The LIWHHM from the outside, but only about half of the building shows here. (The other half includes offices and archives from my understanding.)
Cheryl Harness's sculpture of a young Laura is displayed near the ticket counter.
The signage for the LIWHHM includes the signature of Laura Ingalls Wilder. 
As stated in The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion, this museum displays the fiddle that belonged to Charles Ingalls. Years ago I bought the CD of Pa's Fiddle music to hear the songs Wilder wrote about in the books. When I heard Pa's fiddle played, I did take a picture (since I knew I couldn't in the museum). The CD is now a crazy price on Amazon, but you can purchase the digital files or listen through Prime for free. (Affiliate link.) The museum likely has it available for purchase, too. 

As much as I loved the museum, I appreciated the homes even more. From the museum parking lot, you can walk a paved path to Rocky Ridge. Though it's not a short walk, it's not long either. It may take 5 minutes if you don't stop for too many pictures. Handicap parking is available at Rocky Ridge. A parking lot is also available across the road from the house for those who don't want to walk from the museum.

Below you see two views of Rocky Ridge, including the back side where the small kitchen is. My mother-in-law (and traveling companion) and I stood in front of the porch which opens into the kitchen.
Photos aren't typically allowed inside Rocky Ridge, but the group of us from the LIW Children's Literature Festival were encouraged to pose with the Laura Ingalls Wilder cardboard cutout. From left to right: William Anderson, Annette Whipple (me), Dorinda Nicholson, Laura Ingalls Wilder cardboard cutout, Chuck Todd, Veda Boyd Jones, and Laura McLemore. (I had known Bill and Laura as part of the world of Little House, but it was incredible to meet them both and make new friends, too.) 

The tour guides are all incredible, but our little group had a special tour given by William Anderson, THE Laura Ingalls Wilder expert. (Yes, I spent years researching and writing The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide. But I was grateful for others' input, including Bill's, before it went to print.) 

(I'll need to post about the cardboard cut-out and the height of Laura Ingalls Wilder another time though I mention it in my book.) 

From Rocky Ridge Farmhouse, we chose to walk over to the Rock House. (You can also drive. Most people that day drove.) The 3/4 mile walk was beautiful. Though I would not suggest pushing a wheelchair since it begins and ends with hills, it is a paved path. And beautiful. The final picture below is the view of the Rock House from the path.
I can't show you photos from inside the house. What I can tell you is that the house was beautiful. Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote many of the Little House books when she and Almanzo lived at the Rock House before she and Almanzo returned to Rocky Ridge. 
Rose spared no expense and made the house as modern as possible. I also knew that Laura and Almanzo chose to return to the farmhouse. So, I expected the Rock House to be rather extravagant. I was only able to tour the first floor, but it was a simple house. Beautiful. Well-planned. But not over-the-top and certainly not large. With two bedrooms on the first floor in addition to the living spaces (living room, dining room, kitchen, and bathroom), I thought it was a wonderful house an older couple. Like Rocky Ridge, none of the rooms were large. (And I want to know what happened to built-in, pull-down screens like the Rock House had. I want those!) 
Have you visited the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum? Or do you have plans to? I hope so. Be sure to visit the museum, Rocky Ridge, and the Rock House while you are there. I had daytime commitments with the book festival, so I had to spread out my visit over three days. However, most people could do a complete tour in a few hours. Be sure to plan in advance because the tours are timed. 

See all of my posts about my trip to Mansfield, Missouri: 

You might also be curious about my research trip to the Almanzo Wilder Farm in Malone, New York. 

Happy Trails! 
 ~ Annette 
 Annette Whipple is a nonfiction children's author. Learn more about her books and presentations at

1 comment

  1. Thank you so much for sharing! I’m looking forward to.visiting someday. I’m certain the homes will be my favorite part of the tour also. Will make a point to check out the window screens!