Mary Parrish remembers the first time she stepped into the Joslyn Castle.
She noticed the beauty of the oak paneling, the woodwork and high ceilings of the historic mansion in midtown Omaha.
Parrish is no longer just a visitor at the home. She is a key volunteer and works about 20 hours a week, helping to schedule events and tackling other duties.
She understands the important role the home plays in Omaha’s history.
She has enjoyed seeing Omaha grow and watching places like the Holland Performing Arts Center add to the city’s culture. But, she said, Omaha realizes that it also must preserve the city’s history through such places as the Joslyn Castle, which is at 39th and Davenport Streets.
“Omaha is such a vibrant place,’’ she said. “We need to preserve the treasures that are already here.”
The 35-room Scottish Baronial mansion, built more than 100 years ago by George and Sarah Joslyn, includes a reception hall, music room, ballroom and library.
The home, which is managed by the nonprofit Joslyn Castle Trust, is open for tours and is also used for concerts, weddings and other events.
Parrish grew up in Detroit and moved to Omaha in 1979 when her husband, Richard, took a job here.
She worked 31 years at Valmont Industries Inc., retiring in 2011 as logistics manager in the international irrigation division.
Valmont always emphasized the importance of giving back to the community, she said. When she retired she decided it was a good time to share her business experience through volunteer work.
Part of her duties at the Joslyn Castle include helping track the mansion’s revenue and expenses, although an accountant does most of the work.
Construction of the four-story home was completed in 1903, and it’s on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s big — 19,360 square feet — and features carved wood, stained glass, chiseled stone and mosaic tiles.
George Joslyn died in 1916. Sarah lived on the 5.5-acre estate until her death in 1940 at age 88. From 1944 to 1989, the home served as the headquarters of the Omaha Public Schools.
Parrish said the Joslyns would appreciate the way their home has been opened up to the public.
“They were proud of their home,” she said.
Contact the writer: