In the summer of 2005, a kitten wandered into the Museum grounds from Heritage Park, located across the street from the Museum. The gardener watched her eating grasshoppers and playing with butterflies. The homeless kitten found her newly explored area quite inviting, so she decided to stay around. It was only a matter of time before the Executive Director at the time made the decision to adopt her. Although initially named Alicia, in honor of the long line of Conrad women who held that name, her sweet disposition soon earned her a new moniker,
Sweetie Pie, The Conrad Cat
Sweetie Pie is a dark brown and orange tortoise-shell calico cat and is currently the only full-time resident of the Conrad Mansion Museum. Her official title is "Mansion Greeter" and she plies her trade while on the Museum's front porch or strolling through the grounds.
It's almost 10:00 am. I think I see the first visitors.
5:00 pm - clocked out for the day!
Although Sweetie Pie currently holds the title of "The Conrad Cat," she was not the Conrad Mansion's first resident pet. She joins a long list of feline companions that belonged to Conrad's youngest daughter Alicia while growing up in the Mansion. This charming story, recalled by Alicia years later, occurred around the 1900s when she found comfort in her pet cats - all thirteen of them!
I'd put them in the tub in the morning. They didn't scratch or object but seemed to enjoy the water. Then I'd lift them out and use big sheets and bath towels to dry them. I can remember Dr. Alexander McDonald looking in one day, when someone was sick. He saw all the cats in the tub and asked, "What are their names?" I said, "Well, I have Adam and Eve." He said, "From the number of cats, there must be one named Philander." I knew I wouldn't have been allowed to have so many, except I had been a lonely child, and they were my playmates." (excerpt from "Half Interest in a Silver Dollar: The Saga of Charles E. Conrad")
Over the years, Sweetie Pie became a big hit with the public and the Museum staff received as many questions about her as whether ghosts inhabited the Museum. In 2011, then-Executive Director Mike Kofford penned a book about Sweetie Pie's daily activities of the Museum. The book was illustrated by graphic artist Miriam Emerson. A book signing (pawing) was held on November 19, 2011 at the Museum to launch the book sales. Sweetie Pie enjoyed a milk champagne toast at the event. "The Conrad Cat" book can be purchased in the Gift Shoppe.
It may be a coincidence that Sweetie Pie wandered into the Museum grounds over 10 years ago or it may be that a kindred spirit drew her in. Perhaps she felt the karma of Alicia's pets. In any event, the Museum's resident cat can be seen/and or petted during the tour season.
Sweetie Pie is also the subject of some of the ghost stories told during the Museum's annual Ghost Tours in October.