The Question and Answer section for Rip Van Winkle and Other Stories is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
I see no evidence of a grand staircase or huge columns in the text of Rip Van Winkle. Are you using modified version of the text?
The children follow Rip because they love him. He tells them stories, makes toys for them, plays games, shoots marbles, and teaches them to fly kites. Rip was fun..... just like a kid.
What note are you referring to?