About the Building
The Smith Mansion is located in Wapiti Valley, Wyoming. It sits approximately 15 miles from the East Gate of Yellowstone National Park. Construction started in 1973. The creator/builder, Francis Lee Smith, was an Architect/Engineer. He spent nearly three decades building his mansion, his life's work. Smith died while working on the mansion in April of 1992.
My name is Sunny Larsen, daughter of Lee Smith and owner of the Smith Mansion. I have taken on a new project, restoring this historical part of Wapiti, the Smith Mansion Preservation Project.
What's Really Weird
No one knows what it is when they drive by. People are so curious about the house and its purpose. Everyone in the valley gets tired of the same old question. "What is it?" Guesses have included: Pagoda, mine shaft, old mine, the crazy house, weird log house, etc.
The mansion is built primarily by hand tools, handmade pulley systems, and a lot of hard work. It stands high, over 75 feet tall. The mansion is built in the direct center of the valley. All the timbers used in its construction were hand picked from Rattlesnake Mountain, in Cody. Five to seven logs were hauled out at a time, using a small half-ton pick up.
To see more photos, visit the Smith Mansion Web Site
Lessons LearnedSmith had a dream to build a mansion that would fit into its natural surroundings in Wapiti. This is a truly beautiful, wild, and fascinating place. The mansion was Smith's life's work. He worked on it every spare minute he had. I grew up in the mansion. Yes, in the mansion! My brother and I had a very strange childhood. No running water and limited electricity. Our only source of heat was a small wood burning stove. This was not only the mansion, but our home.
Now I have a dream. I want to preserve the mansion and be able to share it with the public. There is no denying, this place grabs everyone's attention.
Jackie Craven, About.com Architecture, says:What a truly astonishing structure, and how exciting for you to have grown up there!
For readers interested in learning more about log home construction, here are some resources: