Emporia

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 shopping. They wanted to drive. But, classic American Main Streets were not conducive to this tectonic shift. So, once sleepy roads fanning out from Main Streets were transformed into traffic-choaked thoroughfares highly conducive to shopping via a car. All the countless businesses which sprang up to accommodate this new pattern had something which Main Street businesses did not: ample parking lots in front.

In Emporia, Sixth Avenue is just such a street. The section closest to Main Street (Commercial) was originally lined with houses, and, farther out, farmland. After WWII the houses started being replaced with burger joints, car lots, hardware stores, etc. And each, you can be assured, had plenty of parking.

Today, Sixth Avenue is mostly commercial. However, there are still, somehow, houses managing to hang on.

1308 Sixth is just such a house, and a more improbable survivor there never was.

The house is very tiny, and sandwiched between a Sherwin-Williams store and a McDonalds.

I have watched this petite structure since moving to Kansas in 1996. Each time I come into town I am always amazed to see it still standing. I do not recall it ever having a tenant.

The house no longer makes sense as a residence, but it seems ideal as an office for a lawyer, accountant, insurance agent, or you get the idea. One could easily even work on the first-floor and live above. A basement offers additional space options.

The house is also delightfully charming.

I would hate to see the house demolished, although no one else would likely miss it. To me, such oddities are what make a city interesting. You know, the quirky things, the unexpected, and the eccentric all make a city more appealing. Even if most people do not consciously take note of X oddity or Y, they nonetheless will still experience a city as more interesting for their survival.

I deeply believe that if somebody came along and did a great restoration on this house, people WOULD take notice. Indeed, they would WANT to stop, step inside, and, perhaps, unexpectedly purchase some insurance.

If you restore it, people will come.

 

1308 Sixth, Emporia, KS. The gable end faces south.
1308 Sixth, Emporia, KS. The gable end faces south. The porch rail is, no doubt, desperately yearning for improvement.

 

I must stress how petite the house is. Charmingly so.
I must stress how petite the house is. Charmingly so.

 

I have always loved such windows: single pane below; thing vertical panes above. Nice. Even the windows were replaced (as most people would do), the houses would be ruined.
I have always loved such windows: single pane below; thin vertical panes above. Nice. If the windows were replaced (as most people would do), the house would be ruined.

 

In the rear is this sweet sweet extension. Is a breakfast nook inside?
In the rear is this sweet sweet extension. Is a breakfast nook inside?

 

You see what I mean about the commercial nature of Sixth Avenue.
You see what I mean about the commercial nature of Sixth Avenue.

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