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Western Kansas locales nominated as national historic places

TOPEKA—Three western Kansas properties are among nine nominations to the National Register of Historic Places in Washington, D.C.

The Kansas Historical Society voted Saturday to forward the nominations as announced in a news release Tuesday.

The National Register of Historic Places is the country’s official list of historically significant properties. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archeological resources.

Below are summaries of the nominations:

Norcatur City Hall

Norcatur City Hall

Norcatur City Hall – 107 N Decatur Avenue, Norcatur, Decatur County

In 1935, Norcatur residents voted 213 to three in favor of matching a federal grant of $26,000 to erect a new city hall. Despite construction delays and the frequent turnover of project managers, the Norcatur City Hall was completed in August 1937 under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a New Deal-era work relief program. Civic buildings erected as part of this program typically featured expressions of Classical or Moderne architecture. The Norcatur City Hall reflects a vernacular interpretation of the Streamlined Moderne style with its stucco and concrete exterior, multi-light steel casement windows, pipe railings, flat roof, and modest horizontal tile accents. This style gained favor in the 1930s in part because of its de-emphasis of extravagant architectural ornament in favor of clean lines and modern materials. The small-town city hall housed the local government office, jail, fire department, and a basement assembly hall where civic groups and others could gather. It closed in 1985. The building is nominated as part of the New Deal-Era Resources of Kansas multiple property nomination for its local significance in the areas of government, entertainment, recreation, social history, and architecture.

Minier, Abram M., House – 307 South Avenue, Highland, Doniphan County

Abram M. Minier, a grandson of John Bayless, a founder of Highland, commissioned the construction of this Craftsman bungalow in 1916. Though the builder of the house is not known, it was built from a house plan by Gustav Stickley first published in the November 1909 issue of The Craftsman and later published as Cottage No. 78 in Stickley’s 1912 catalogue More Craftsman Homes. The catalogue estimated the construction of the house to be $5,000. There were some minor modifications between the published plans and the blueprints for this house. For example, the fireplace was constructed as brick rather than stone, and the interior plan was modified slightly to incorporate a small, screened porch on the rear elevation. The home otherwise contains all the signature Stickley designs including wood shingle siding, exposed rafter tails, a full-width front porch, heavy structural beams, built-in bookcases and seating, and Mission-style hardware. The Minier House is nominated as part of the Historic Resources of Highland multiple property nomination for its local significance in the area of architecture.

Birchmore, John W., House – 1204 N Buckeye Avenue, Abilene, Dickinson County

Episcopal priest John W. Birchmore purchased a four-acre tract in 1878 and contracted to build this Second Empire-style residence. Examples of the Second Empire style can be found in many Kansas communities, often on residences built in the 1870s and early 1880s. A hallmark of the style is the mansard roof, a double-pitched roof with a steep lower slope. This residence features a mansard roof with pedimented windows, another common characteristic of the style. While it also is common to see Second Empire residences with a tower, this element is usually centered prominently on the front elevation. The Birchmore House has a tower, but it is located on a secondary elevation and has a cone-shaped roof rather than the more typical mansard roof. Birchmore served St. John’s Episcopal Church in Abilene for a short period, and the residence was sold several times in subsequent decades. Much of the surrounding acreage was sold off in the early-and mid-20th century for development. It is nominated for its local significance in the area of architecture.

Truitt, James, House – 305 N Steuben Avenue, Chanute, Neosho County

The James Truitt House in Chanute is an excellent example of late 19th century Queen Anne-style architecture. The two-and-a-half story residence exhibits the hallmarks of the style including an irregular plan, a complex cross-gable roof, variations in exterior wall texture, and multiple porches with Eastlake-inspired spindlework. It was commissioned in 1887 by James Truitt, a nurseryman who had moved his family from Kentucky to Chanute in 1878. Before relocating, Truitt was a successful nurseryman, having won awards as a fruit-grower, gardener, and florist in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana. While living in Chanute, he operated Truitt and Sons Greenhouse until his death in 1914, and founded Chanute Nurseries, which continued long after his passing. The house is nominated for its association with Truitt and for its Queen Anne architecture.

Sylvan Grove Union Pacific Railroad Depot

Sylvan Grove Union Pacific Railroad Depot

 Sylvan Grove Union Pacific Depot – 131 S Main Street, Sylvan Grove, Lincoln County

The Sylvan Grove Union Pacific Depot was built in 1887 and is an example of a combination depot, meaning it served both freight and passenger needs. This rail line was originally known as the Salina, Lincoln & Western Railway Line, which later became a part of the Union Pacific Railroad. The depot is located at the south end of Sylvan Grove’s Main Street and is in its original location. The depot closed in 1968 and the rails on either side of the building were removed following the 1993 flood. The wood-frame building is an example of a standardized late-19th century combination depot with minimal ornamentation, though the eave brackets and gable-end embellishments reflect the Victorian-era Stick style. It is nominated as part of the Historic Railroad Resources of Kansas multiple property nomination for its local significance in the areas of transportation and architecture.

Lowe Center School, District #115 – Indian Road & 27th Road, Washington County

The Lowe Center School was built in 1884 in response to a growing rural population in Washington County in the early 1880s. School attendance records note between 20 and 35 students enrolled at the school into the early 20th century. The one-acre property is located north of Morrowville in Lowe Township and served rural residents of this area until it closed in 1963. The building is typical of one-room country schoolhouses built in the late 19th century. The wood-frame building rests on a limestone foundation, has clapboard siding, and features a gable roof with a bell tower. There are two outhouses behind the school. It is nominated as part of the Historic Public Schools of Kansas multiple property nomination for its local significance in the areas of education and architecture.

Sand Creek Tributary Stone Arch Bridge east of LaCrosse

Sand Creek Tributary Stone Arch Bridge northwest of LaCrosse

Sand Creek Tributary Stone Arch Bridge – 2 miles west, 1.4 miles north of La Crosse, Rush County

The Sand Creek Tributary Stone Arch Bridge was constructed by local men employed by the Works Projects Administration in 1942. This double-arch limestone bridge was one of the last of several New Deal-era construction projects in Rush County. Its limestone construction is typical of structures built in this area and is representative of master stone builders and the craftsmanship of construction workers trained by the WPA. A tributary of Sand Creek flows beneath the bridge during seasonal rains, but remains mostly dry otherwise. The bridge is nominated as part of the New Deal-Era Resources of Kansas and Masonry Arch Bridges of Kansas multiple property nominations for its local significance in the areas of government, social history, and engineering.

Lone Elm Campground Swale – 21151 W 167th Street, Olathe, Johnson County

The Lone Elm Campground Swale is located in Lone Elm Park at the southernmost edge of Olathe. This city park’s single trail swale is situated along the combined route of the Santa Fe, Oregon, and California trails as it headed southwest out of Westport, Missouri to present-day Gardner, Kansas where the Santa Fe Trail split-off from the Oregon and California trail. The earliest known group headed for Santa Fe passed through this site circa 1823, and use of this part of the trail drew to a close in 1861 with the onset of the Civil War, which ended long-distance trail traffic from Independence. This trail remnant is one of the few intact trail remains in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area, as urban and suburban development has greatly encroached upon the trail in this region. The nominated site also contains a historical marker erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1906. The property is nominated as part of the Historic Resources of the Santa Fe Trail in the areas of commerce, transportation, exploration/settlement, and social history.

Little Arkansas River Crossing – Windom vicinity, Rice County

The Little Arkansas River Crossing site is located in Rice County, approximately five miles southwest of Windom. Being on the main route of the Santa Fe Trail, 90 miles west of Council Grove, the Little Arkansas River was crossed by most trail traffic, including military traffic. William Becknell initiated trade with Santa Fe in 1821 and most likely crossed the Little Arkansas River at this site that year. Certainly, though, this crossing was used from the initiation of wagon traffic over the trail in 1822 to the advancement of the railroad to Junction City in 1866. Travelers bound for Santa Fe would take the train to Junction City then continue southwest along the Butterfield Overland Despatch route to Fort Ellsworth, then southwest on a connecting road to Fort Zarah, where they resumed the main trail. This new route from Junction City spelled the end of long-distance trail traffic east of Fort Zarah (near present-day Great Bend). The nominated site contains two trail swales and a monument erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1929. The property is nominated as part of the Historic Resources of the Santa Fe Trail in the areas of commerce, transportation, and social history.

To read drafts of the nominations and links to photographs, go to kshs.org/14633.

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