Emporia

This page is about Emporia-related restorations. Or Emporia-related real-estate needing restoration. Or Emporia-related real-estate that I just like. Or just cool stuff in Emporia.

Emporia, Kansas, is a city of 25,000 people, and right in the middle of America.

I have always liked the name Emporia. It has a nice 19th-century flavor.

Currently displaying blog entries in Chronological Order. Switch to Most Recent.

Looking for Mr. Squires

The Cross House was designed by architect Charles W. Squires. But who was Squires? I can only find scant historical documentation, and would love to learn more. Charles Wesley Squires was in born Southampton Township, Long Island, New York on February 5, 1851, and lived there until 1870 when he left for Columbus, Ohio, to study… Continue Reading

Small City; Large Impact — William Allen White

It is a common belief that if one does not live in a major urban center like New York City, or Los Angles, that one, well, really does not exist. William Allen White (1868 – 1944) would have disagreed.White was the owner of the Emporia Gazette, as well as a politician, author, and leader of the Progressive movement. White was… Continue Reading

Enjoyable Dreams

My favorite blog is about, not surprisingly, old house. The blog is a feast of gorgeous old houses. And all for sale! Old House Dreams is owned by Kelly, and she works hard at making her blog incredibly user-friendly, and rich with great posts and great comments from her users. Daily, I look at Old… Continue Reading

The House Which Lost its Face

Across the street from the Cross House, at 517 Union, is a house. It is painted blue. So, I always think of it as the Blue House. A glance reveals that the house has been much altered over the years. Windows have been changed, porches enclosed, and the whole re-sided. Still, the house looked to… Continue Reading

Endangered Houses: 725 Exchange

I have a terrible affliction. I want to save every old, endangered house I come across. The affliction is powerful and debilitating. When I was in high school, I was riding my bike along Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, Florida, and stopped dead in my tracks in front of a lovely 1920s bungalow. It looked… Continue Reading

Favorite Houses: 831 Constitution

At the corner of Ninth and Constitution, in Emporia, is a remarkable house: the Keebler House. One cannot drive by without craning a neck to admire. The house has a dollhouse-like appearance. It is charming to an extreme, and looks like something a giant would eat in a children’s fairy tale — a delicious cookie.… Continue Reading

Favorite Houses: 625 Union

For a long time I have lusted after this home. It is a block north from the Cross House, and was built, I believe, in the 1870s. What is particularly remarkable about the house is that its two intricate wood porches are largely intact. After almost 150 years? This is extraordinary. And what porches they… Continue Reading

Endangered Houses: 1308 Sixth Avenue

Before WWII, it was common for people to walk along Main Street, and peer in the many enticing window displays. They either walked to Main Street from their house a few blocks away, or got on their horse (in the early days), or drove their car. After WWII, people no longer wanted to walk while… Continue Reading

Favorite Houses: 701 State Street

Some houses get me REALLY excited. Such as 701 State. This is house easily overlook. But do not be fooled by its current appearance. This is a FABULOUS house. If the circa-1950s siding were removed, the missing bits of the porch reinstated, and original colors reintroduced, 701 State would STOP TRAFFIC.        … Continue Reading

R.I.P.: 1002 Market Street

I am always sad to lose a house. It is rare that I think a house cannot be saved. A concurrent concern is how demolition diminishes a neighborhood. While I well appreciate that an empty house invites problems, demolition is a draconian, permanent solution to a temporary problem. Surely there must be a better way?… Continue Reading

Miraculous Survivors: Porches

While wood houses can last centuries (with a decent roof), wood porches are rarely so lucky. Porches are highly vulnerable to the elements, and in an age before pressure-treated lumber became the norm, wood porches rotted. It was not uncommon for an 1895 wood porch to be totally punky by 1915. Porches are also highly… Continue Reading

Alert! Alert! House Kidnapped by Aliens!

On the southwest corner on Ninth Avenue and Exchange Street is a GORGEOUS foundation for a house. But, no house sits on it. Obviously, there once was a house on the foundation. And, based on the remarkable nature of the foundation, it must have been quite the house. At some point however the house was,… Continue Reading

Prolifically Mysterious & Curvaceous

For years now, as I have slowly driven around the leafy residential districts of Emporia, I have noted houses which must be by the same architect as they all have certain characteristic details, the most telling of which is a curvaceous piece of trim under the windows. Most houses have no such trim, curvaceous or… Continue Reading

Favorite Houses: 819 Constitution

Constitution, between 8th and 9th Streets, in Emporia, Kansas, would be almost unrecognizable today to anybody who lived on the street before WWII. Of the eleven houses which graced the street in 1911, only three remain today. The rest have been demolished for parking lots, and a church. What remains though is highly attractive. The… Continue Reading

A Curiosity: 821 Market

Some houses just make one stop and think: What? Such a house is 821 Market. I mean, WHAT happened to this house? WHAT did it originally look like? The house is now divided into two condo units. Clearly, it was further altered. The hex-shaped windows are not original, and nor is the brick. A door,… Continue Reading

Favorite Houses: 1015 State

Under the growth, under the jungle, under the camouflage, there is a house. I suspect it is a fabulous house. I suspect, rather than know, because the house is almost entirely hidden under a wild green cover.           Continue Reading

Favorite House: 810 Mechanic.

This is a house easily passed by. The exterior has been heavily renovated. The siding is circa-1950 and circa-1990. The original front porch is long gone. But…but…what remains is highly tantalizing, and speaks for a GORGEOUS home if the whole were restored. The house is just a block from the main street, and the restored… Continue Reading

Favorite Houses: 911 Union

This is a tale of two houses. 911 Union. 819 Constitution. The Union Street house does not, at first glance, look like much. The whole is covered in white paint (originally the house would have been in several shades of earth tones). The front porch is missing, too, giving the facade a blank expression. And… Continue Reading

Urban Planning 101

Really, urban planning is not hard. However, based on the countless urban planning disasters since WWII, one would think urban planning is some incredibly complicated and obtuse thing to understand. It ain’t. For example, in designing a building for an urban location, like a Main Street, there are just three rules: 1) Make sure the… Continue Reading

A Lustron In Emporia!

  What, you might ask, is a Lustron? After WWII, factories across America were suddenly idle. As were many millions of workers. One man had an idea: why not transform the steel factories which had created tanks and battleships into factories creating housing? Thus, the dream of Carl Strandlund became reality, and Luston built around 3,000… Continue Reading

Favorite Houses: 702 West Street

I see dead people. This is, of course, the memorable line from the hit move The Sixth Sense. Well, I do not see dead people. But, like the boy in Sixth Sense, it seems that I see quite differently than most people when it comes to, not dead people, but old houses. Houses which I… Continue Reading

Lost Emporia: 811 Constitution

Since WWII American cities have been reshaped. Before WWII, cities were laid out based on patterns going back to ancient times. In short, cities were places conducive to walking. All this changed in the 20th-century, and vastly changed after WWII when cities became conducive to automobiles. If you look at aerial images of pretty much… Continue Reading

Faded Houses: 727 Market

One of my favorite things is coming across an archival image of an old house. I immediately think: Is the house still around? Then I go on the hunt. When I find the house my excitement is great. Occasionally, there is a near match between the archival image in my hand, and the actual house… Continue Reading

Favorite Houses: 628 Cottonwood

A year ago I never heard of architect Charles W. Squires. Today I am — OK, I admit it! — a little obsessed with the man. I long for a time-travel app on my iPhone so I can go back to, say, 1925, and walk up to the Squires home at 613 Exchange, knock on the door,… Continue Reading

Damn. Houses I Lust After (but cannot buy).

I am really mad. And frustrated. You see, I want to buy a lot of houses and restore them. Tragically, I cannot. My lust notwithstanding, a lack of endless finances precludes my snapping up every house attracting my special attention. I really hate when reality conflicts with desire. DAMN! So, this post is the best… Continue Reading

Favorite Houses: 526 Exchange

A block directly to the east from the Cross House sits 526 Exchange. The house is, without question, the work of Charles W. Squires, who designed the Cross House, and who lived just down the street at 613 Exchange. While I have no confirmation as to this attribution, the house abounds with signature Squires design… Continue Reading

Enhancing Emporia

Overall, Emporia looks a lot better than it did when I moved to Kansas in 1996. You see, a restoration consciousness has slowly but surely spread across the city, like pixie dust being sprinkled from the sky by the Preservation Gods.                 Projects such as this make Emporia… Continue Reading

Intersection Magnifique

In 1894, the year the Cross House was built, the intersection of Union and Sixth in Emporia, Kansas, was Ground Zero for fine homes. On each corner were elegant structures occupied by the city’s elite.     On the NW corner was the magnificent Plumb House, occupied by Caroline Plumb, the widow of US Senator,… Continue Reading

Favorite Houses: 810 Market

Because the Cross House was designed by architect Charles W. Squires, I have become a, well, Squires groupie. I am ever-alert to new Squires sightings, and have a fantasy that an app will be invented for my smart phone which will allow me to time-travel so I can meet up with Charley and have a… Continue Reading

Favorite Houses: 1214 Exchange

While driving along to visit a friend, I slammed on the brakes, backed up, parked the car, got out, and stood before a house which I instantly recognized as being by the architect Charles W. Squires. The house has very similar qualities to 628 Cottonwood, which I have a post on. The house also has… Continue Reading

Favorite Houses: 613 and 617 Exchange

A block from the Cross House, architect Charles W. Squires built two nearly identical houses; The Twins, as I call them. Number 613 is to the south, and 617 is to the north. 613 was built as an up/down duplex, and Squires lived in the house until his passing in 1934. 617 was built as… Continue Reading

Favorite Houses: 919 Merchant

I had an adventure today. And not just any adventure, but an architectural adventure! Whoee! Recently, I was contacted by Bill, who was doing research on his house. Looking through old deeds, he discovered that in 1869 Harrison Cross owned his house. Harrison Cross, of course, built my Cross House in 1894. Obviously, I was… Continue Reading

A Lost Thing of Great Beauty

Today, on the NE corner of 12th Street and State, Emporia, is a church. The church, completed in 1948, replaced an extraordinary house, one of the finest in Emporia. The house was certainly the work of architect Charles W. Squires, who designed more buildings in Emporia than any other architect. Squires designed my Cross House,… Continue Reading

Favorite Houses: 526 Exchange. PART 2.

This is my second post on 526 Exchange. My previous post is here. The house originally sat of the north side of a double lot. In the 1920s, Scott Mouse, who later owned the Cross House, purchased 526, moved the house to the south side of the lot, and built a gas station on the… Continue Reading

R.I.P. 1009 Mechanic Street, Emporia, KS

        The five house were leveled by the city of Emporia for…a parking lot. I feel like I am in a 1970s time-warp. While the main commercial street is a block to the west, Mechanic is (or rather was) a residential street in this area. Funny, but I have always easily found… Continue Reading

R. I. P. 1017 Mechanic, Emporia, KS

Yesterday, I did a post about the demolition of five historic houses for…a parking lot. 1017 Mechanic was one of the five, and I previously included it in a post about porches. What captured my special attention about 1017 was its surviving original porch. While the house had been mussed with a bit (1950s siding,… Continue Reading

Favorite Houses: 512 Exchange

Around the block from the Cross House is 512 Exchange, built in 1900. My realtor, Lacie, contacted me. “Ross, have you seen 512?” I rushed right over.   THE PLANS On the first-floor is a spacious entry hall, living room, dining room, butler’s pantry, kitchen, and sunporch. Half-flight down is a half-bath. Full basement. There… Continue Reading

Favorite Houses: 614 Union, Emporia, Kansas

This post is about one of the finest homes in Emporia. It was designed by a prolific, brilliant, and delightfully impish architect. It was built with high-quality materials. The quality of the craftsmanship is dazzling. The house is gorgeous. Yet, for many decades, the house has not been treated very well. This causes me immense… Continue Reading

Favorite Houses: 614 Union, Emporia, Kansas. UPDATE

In a previous post I wrote about one of the finest houses in Emporia: 614 Union. Last year when I first toured the house, a large mantle was the first thing one saw upon entering the house. When I toured the house again recently, after the house was listed for sale, I was bereft to… Continue Reading

A Safe Place During A Zombie Apocalypse

I know a couple of wild & crazy kids: Brian and Bailey. The couple is impossibly young, and attending Emporia State University. So, why are they wild & crazy? Because they want to buy an old house. Even an old house needing work. Even an old house needing a ton of work. God love ’em. Young… Continue Reading

An Unexpected Outcome.

  I have been trying to buy 618 for 2-1/2-years. It is just north of the Cross House, and is by the same architect, Charles Squires. Squires lived right behind 618. In 2014, I offered the owner $20K. He countered with $30K. Which I didn’t have. In 2015 I offered $10K (all I had). He… Continue Reading