Endangered Places 2009

Greenwood Hotel, Eureka, Greenwood County

184_greenwood_hotel_eureka_countyOnce Eureka’s largest hotels, the Greenwood Hotel served as a popular meeting place for wealthy cattle traders and oil businessmen of the early late 19th century and early 20thcentury.  Built in 1883 and remodeled in 1926, the Greenwood Hotel reflects elements from both its original Italianate design, as well as its Spanish Revival remodel.  Its character-defining exterior features include the stucco walls and multi-colored clay tile roof, as well as the tall, narrow window openings with Italianate window hoods.  The hotel has fallen into disrepair and is suffering from water damage and neglect.  Funds must be raised for repairs and to mitigate further water damage to the structure.  The local preservation group, the Greenwood Preservation Society, would like to see the Greenwood restored to its 1926 period and reopened as a 32-room hotel for Eureka.

UPDATE:
The Greenwood Hotel is currently under restoration by the Greenwood Preservation Society. The first phase of work is nearing completion and meeting rooms and business suites are available for rent. For more information visit the Greenwood Hotel website or blog

Chouteau Trading Post, Station and Post Office Site, Shawnee, Johnson County

184_Chouteau_Trading_Post,_Station_and_Post_Office_SiteLocated at the mouth of the Kaw River, this historic site in Johnson County was home to the first trading post, train station stop and post office for former Monticello Township (now Shawnee).  Established in 1828 by Frederick Chouteau, the site first served as a fur trading post and ferry stop along the Kaw River.  When railroad travel became popular in the late 1800s, Chouteau Station provided a stop for mail service, shipment and passenger service for Monticello Township on the Kansas City, Topeka and Western Railroad.  Later, the township’s third post office was established at Chouteau Station.  A two story, wood-framed structure, serving as the postmaster’s residence and marking a physical location for Chouteau Station was destroyed by fire in 1978 (only the limestone foundation of the structure remains).  The history of this site and the remaining limestone foundation is in danger of being lost by development of the area.  The Monticello Historical Society is working to place an interpretive sign at the site to remind residents of the rich history of the site.

Phillipena Strasser House, Manhattan, Riley County

184_Phillipena_Strasser_HouseCommissioned to be built in 1874 by widow, Phillipena Strasser, this dwelling is the second oldest house in Manhattan’s 2nd Ward and one of few surviving examples of stone residences in the city.  In an agreement with the City of Manhattan, the Strasser House will remain at its current location though the surrounding context of homes and farmland has long been lost.  The Strasser House has been vacant for over a year and is in danger of demolition by neglect.  Though it is in good condition, funds must be raised for repairs to the roof, windows and foundation.  Adaptive use into office or retail space would serve this property well, as it is surrounded by commercial zoning.

UPDATE:
This building was rehabilitated by McCullough Development into apartments and received an award for Commercial Community Enhancement from the Manhattan/Riley County Preservation Alliance in May 2011. For more information visit the site.

Historic Churches Statewide

184_historic_church1This thematic grouping aims to bring attention to the many historic church buildings throughout Kansas that are neglected or in danger of demolition.  Churches are places of collective memory and are often landmark buildings reflecting the architectural development of a community.  Congregations statewide are facing reductions of their membership and loss of funding for church maintenance.  Additionally, few historic churches are listed on the National or State Registers of Historic Places, which limits preservation efforts.  Though there are many groups dedicated to the preservation of Kansas churches, the greatest need is for better educational programs for congregations to facilitate the development of creative ways to fund repairs and maintenance of these important Kansas places.

Sumner Elementary School, Topeka, Shawnee County

184_sumner_elementary_schoolThis Art Deco school dates to 1936 and served as the neighborhood elementary school for white children in Topeka.  In 1950, third-grader Linda Brown, an African American girl living seven blocks from Sumner School, was denied enrolment and forced to attend the all-black Monroe School, which was a mile away and across a railroad switchyard from her home.  Her father, Oliver Brown, along with several other black families whose children had been denied entry, appealed the school’s decision to the Supreme Court and in 1956 the court concluded schools could not separate students by race.  In 1987, the National Park Service designated the Sumner School as a National Historic Landmark for its role in the 1954 Supreme Court Case “Brown v. Board of Education,” the ruling of which ushered in the nation’s Civil Rights Movement.

Today, Sumner School sits vacant and deteriorating. The City of Topeka has initiated an auction for the sale of the property for rehabilitation.  In 2008, the National Trust for Historic Preservation placed Sumner School on its 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list.  Purchase and appropriate rehabilitation are needed to protect this historic site.

Diskau Archeological Site Vicinity of Riley, Riley County

184_diskau_archeological_siteArchaeological test excavations have recovered Clovis projectile points and the remains of extinct Ice Age mammoths and camels in a cultivated field near Riley, Kansas.  State archeologists indicate finding these kinds of remains is very rare not only in Kansas, but across North America.  Access to the site is being restricted, limiting the further discovery of tools and mammal remains that could shed light on prehistoric human and mammal activity.  Continued agricultural use has potential to destroy remaining archaeological deposits at the Diskau Archeological Site.

Parker House Hotel, Minneapolis, Ottawa County

184_parker_house_hotelOriginally constructed in 1887 as a business building in the heart of Minneapolis, Kansas, widow Isabelle Parker retrofitted the building into a 26 room hotel in 1889.  This Italianate style building not only served as a resting place for many travelers looking for the finest accommodations in town, but was the primary meeting place for local suffragettes in the early 1900s.  Neglect and deterioration, in particular significant water damage, threaten the Parker House Hotel.  The City of Minneapolis has expressed interest in demolishing the building rather than capitalizing on its qualities and restoring the landmark.

UPDATE:
Friends of the Parker House Hotel worked with the Kansas State Historical Society to list the building in the Kansas Register of Historic Places in 2009, certifying the building for eligibility in the Kansas Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program.

Lion Block, Ness City, Ness County

184_lion_block_ness_countyThe Lion Block is an excellent example of late 19th century Italianate style design.  Popular nationwide during the mid-to-late 1800s, this style was common for landmark buildings in Kansas downtowns.  The Lion Block was a center of activity on Main Street in Ness City throughout the last century, with occupants over time including a photography studio, a dry goods store, a post office, and meeting hall for organizations such as the IOOF and Boy Scouts.  Financed by the Shepard Brothers in 1887, the building retains its historic architectural integrity on both the exterior and interior.  Among its character-defining features are the decorative, smooth-cut limestone elements crafted by master stonemason Henry Tilley, who also completed work at the Ransom Christian Church and Grade School.  The Lion Block represents the last remaining example of Tilley’s craftsmanship in Ness County.  Though the building retains a great deal of original fabric, the rear wall structure is in need of repair and the roof needs replacement to prevent any further water infiltration and deterioration.

Stone Arch Bridges Statewide

184_stone_arch_bridges_statewideStone masonry is the strongest and most durable historic bridge construction method.  When arranged with an arch stone can bear immense loads, which historically made it a popular choice for bridges near mills with heavy vehicles or along a major roadway into a town.  Stone bridges represent a 19th century shift in structural engineering and aesthetics from wood bridges to more permanent river crossings constructed with local stone. Though incredibly durable, stone bridges in Kansas are becoming increasingly rare.  Constructed prior to the motorized vehicle, these bridges are often narrow and offer limited visibility.  Lack of government funding to repair these stone arch bridges has resulted in deterioration of many structures.  Many historic bridges are also being replaced to accommodate larger and heavier vehicles and agricultural equipment.  Examples of historic stone bridges that are in immediate danger of demolition in Kansas include the Diamond Creek Bridge outside of Strong City and the National Register-listed Clements Stone Arch Bridge, both in Chase County.  Though a statewide thematic National Register Documentation Form is in place for masonry arch bridges across Kansas, further study of stone arch bridges is necessary to develop a more comprehensive plan to protect and repair the few remaining structures.

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