The Inn on Crescent Lake
Crescent Lake Manor, so named because of the crescent-shaped lakes that surround the mansion, was the stylish home for two decades of Dr. Aretas S. McCleary and family. Dr. McCleary was founder of the McCleary Sanatorium and Clinic in downtown Excelsior Springs.
Dr. McCleary purchased the 15-room Georgian Colonial mansion in 1925 when he moved his medical practice from Kansas City, Mo., to Excelsior Springs. At that time the town was considered to be one of America's leading mineral water resorts. The seller was Douglas Stinson, a lumber baron and former Kansas Citian who had the residence built in 1915 for his family.
Dr. Richard C. Hedges of Kansas City North, grandson of Dr. McCleary and the only direct descendant still residing in Clay County, recalled that the latch string was always out at his grandparents' home.
Easter egg hunts, ice-skating, and even an open range shooting gallery were a few of the pleasures available on the 22 acres of wooded grounds encircling the home. Upstairs at the mansion, ping-pong and pool were played in the third-floor ballroom.
Festive family Christmas celebrations were a big part of life at the manor, as well as afternoon teas held on a regular basis for outpatients at the clinic. Sometimes as many as 200 guests were transported from the downtown clinic to the residence, where Dr. McCleary often greeted his patients as friends in the sunroom.
A number of the stately pines were lost when a tornado roared through Crescent Lake Manor and the surrounding area in June 1947. The caretaker's house also fell victim to the violent storm. Other outlying structures, Dr. Hedges recalled, included a good-size garage outfitted for three electric cars, a root cellar, a tool shed, a barn since torn down, and a unique two-story-tall ice house made of stone (which still abuts the lake). Ice cut from the lake was stored there.
A major social event occurred at Crescent Lake Manor on June 23, 1937, when 700 relatives and friends gathered for the golden wedding celebration of Dr. and Mrs. McCleary. Dr. Hedges noted that the minister who officiated at their wedding was present for the renewal of the couple's vows. The following year Anna McCleary passed away of congestive heart failure.
After Dr. McCleary's death on October 21, 1946, at the age of 82, Crescent Lake Manor was unoccupied for several years until another grandson, Robert B. Hedges, who was associated with the clinic, moved in with his family.
The children of Robert and Marion Hedges (Robert Jr., Susan, and Joan) were reared at the manor, and both daughters were married there. A swimming pool and tennis court were added to the estate during this period. Mrs. Hedges continued the tradition of hosting teas for patients at the clinic until it closed in 1974.
After Robert Hedges' death, his widow sold Crescent Lake Manor to Mary Elizabeth Leake, who relocated from California to operate the property as a bed and breakfast from August 1988 until June 1995. The manor then was sold to Dr. Robert E. McClelland, once again becoming a private residence for a brief period.
In the winter of 1997, the manor underwent extensive renovation and was reborn on July 1 of that year as the Inn on Crescent Lake.