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National Register of Historic Places

The Innkeepers

Gary and Virginia Walker, your hosts and owners of McNeill Stone Mansion, have given the stone mansion much tender loving care since they purchased the home. It had been unoccupied for 17 years and was unheated during many Iowa winters. The mansion has now been restored to the splendor of days gone by. The Walkers enjoy sharing the home’s history as much as they did reviving it.

Besides the work on the mansion, both have other jobs. Gary farmed all his life and has gained a national reputation for his restoration work on mid-50’s show cars, specializing in Buicks. Virginia’s long career at Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company, working in several departments, has helped her with her current job of working with vendors.

Gary and Virginia Walker, innkeepers of McNeill Stone Mansion Bed and Breakfast

We hope you will come and see why we love our warm and cozy castle. ~ Virginia and Gary Walker

McNeill Stone Mansion is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has won two other awards - the Oskaloosa Area Chamber & Development Group's Historic Preservation Award and The Friends of Historic Preservation Lifesaver Award from the Oskaloosa Historic Preservation Commission.

 

Excerpt from The Oskaloosa Herald, Friday, April 25, 2003

A jewel in Oskaloosa

To the editor:

Last week I returned to my home town of Oskaloosa for the funeral of a life-long friend. Making arrangements at the last minute, I elected to stay at a Bed and Breakfast in town.

Owners Gary and Virginia Walker welcomed me to the newly finished McNeill Stone Mansion on C Avenue East and my stay was one of the most enjoyable I have ever experienced. You may visit their website at www.thestonemansion.com.

I have been informed that this beautiful renovation has taken a few years to complete, but the end result is well worth it. The Walkers took on the restoration as a real labor of love in beautifully finishing the historic mansion with antiques and decor from the early 20th century. The rooms are elegant and spacious with private bathrooms. And my hosts were gracious and generous in encouraging me to "enjoy the house and all its amenities.

Congratulations to Gary and Virginia. I am certain that word of your beautiful mansion will spread and it will be the choice of accommodations for many discriminating travelers.

Karen Berkemeir Nielsen
Park City, Utah,
formerly of Oskaloosa

History of the McNeill Stone Mansion…

The McNeill Stone Mansion Bed & BreakfastThe Wilbur A. McNeill Stone Mansion is locally significant as an outstanding example of the design skills of the firm of Hallett and Rawson, one of the state’s leading and most innovative architectural firms in the early years of the 20th century.  Constructed in 1908-09 and exhibiting a combination of architectural details drawn from Colonial Revival and Mission Spanish Colonial Revival modes, this limestone-faced edifice is one of Oskaloosa’s largest and most elaborate residential properties. This house is as significant as much for how it was constructed as for its usage of materials and stylistic influences because of its innovative use of steel and concrete in its construction.  By utilizing these materials, they believed they could provide a virtually fireproof, energy efficient residence that would be soundproof as well.

Wilbur McNeill served in the military until a second wound persuaded him to retire from the military.  He and his brother started purchasing coal mines in Monroe County and then came to Mahaska County where they bought the majority of the coal mines. They combined the Mahaska coal mines into the Consolidated Coal Mine and they sold it to the railroad in 1881 for half a million dollars.  From there, they had interests in lead mines, near Dubuque, Iowa; silver mines in Colorado and gold in the Black Hills as well as leasing coal mines in the Canmore, Canada area for twenty years. The home that was built for Mr. McNeill’s nephew to use as he oversaw the mines in Canada is also a Bed & Breakfast, called McNeill Heritage Bed & Breakfast.

Mr. McNeill married late in life and built this wonderful home with every known convenience at the time, for his bride and him. There are several architectural features that came from their world travels, such as the “ALOHA” carved in the stone over the fireplace in the Solarium.

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