Emporia

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 without the porch the house appears too tall and ungainly.

However, 911 Union is, I suspect, a Charles W. Squires design, the architect of the Cross House.

Why do I suspect this?

Please, join me for a visual tour…

 

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My first clue that 911 Union was more more than might first be assumed was its front door. This door matches another door in Emporia…

 

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…and THIS door is at 819 Constitution. And 819 Constitution is by Charles. W. Squires. However, such doors were made by the millions and sold through millwork catalogs across the nation. MOST great old houses across the nation have doors, trim, mantles, built-in cabinets, and even entire staircases from millwork catalogs. Nonetheless, 911 Union has numerous other things in common with 819 Constitution.

 

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911 Union. You see what I mean about the facade not looking like much. But…

 

The Ashbel J. Crocker House, 819 Constitution, Emporia, Kansas, designed by Charles W. Squires in 1898.
…this is 819 Constitution, the Ashbel J. Crocker House. And this, sorta kinda maybe, is how 911 Union would have looked like originally.

 

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I am repeating the image above. In the lower right corner would have certainly been a porch originally. It was likely only one-story in height. The facade, otherwise, appears mostly intact. The house was less expensive than 819 Constitution, and there is no evidence of stained-glass or other pricey details.

 

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The south side. What THRILLED me was the lone extant column pilaster!!!!!!!!! From this seemingly irrelevant detail the front porch, and the obviously lost side porch, could be resurrected.

 

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See the numbers 911 to the right? That is where another column pilaster would have been.

 

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819 Constitution. You see see how the porch does not actually mate well with the body of the house. Rather, it crashes into the body. This is likely what the lost porch at 911 Union would have done. The columns of 819 are custom-made. The lost columns of 911 would have matched the lone column pilaster on the south facade, and these columns were ordered from a catalog. Again, 911 was less expensive than 819.

 

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A year after I wrote the above, I came across an 1899 Sanborn Insurance Map showing 911 Union. This confirms the two lost porches, and that each porch was one-story in height (hence the #1 where the porches are dashed in). Cool. 

 

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911 Union. Both 911 Union and 819 Constitution have staircases in identical locations, each with a protruding bay, and each is U-shaped. However, while 819 has a beefy custom staircase, 911 is from a catalog (but no less wonderful).

 

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911 Union. Again, this exactly corresponds with 819 Constitution, except the latter has an extra window.

 

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911 Union.

 

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The dining room of 911 Union has an angled fireplace (reworked). And so does…

 

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…819 Constitution, and in the same location. While 819 has numerous custom details, it, too, has catalog components, such as all its interior trim, interior doors, and likely this mantle. Even the Cross House, with a budget vastly exceeding 819, has catalog components.

 

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The upstairs hall of 911 Union looks a lot like….

 

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…the same at 819 Constitution.

 

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Back to the front door. I am TERRIFIED that a new owner of the house will not give a thought to throwing away this highly important piece of the house. The door, restored, would be glorious.

 

Houses like 911 Union fascinate me. The house was once gorgeous, and an asset to the community. Over time however, bit by bit, it has been degraded. This happens to most old houses. Today, the house would not warrant a second glance from anybody walking or driving down Union. But…but…if the house were restored it would be a knock-out.

I would start with the front door.

7 Responses to Favorite Houses: 911 Union

  1. I had that lovely door in an 1893 Victorian (farm style) home in S.E. Oklahoma. The window was beveled glass with an etched scene of a woman in a rose garden. I loved that window and door, and was so very tempted to take at least the window with me. However, since I and previous owners had been aware of a benevolent energy in the house we attributed to the original builder, I left it for her. After all, if it was her, the door was hers, too. Story was her husband had driven a wagon to a city many miles away and carted the door and window back as a present for her.

    The house is now on its second owner after me (makes a total of 7, 2 of which never lived in the house). I suspect the door is gone. I know from a real estate photo the original early 20th century ceiling fixtures are gone — and they were lovely — and recently I saw my beautiful oak mantel for sale in a local antiques mall. Sigh.

    I love what you’re doing with the Cross house and the carriage house.

  2. This is crazy! I LOVE the Union house and have looked at it many times either by walking by or online. I too thought that it probably once looked much like 819. Maybe because I look at 819 many a time during my day – my lovely vacant neighbor to the south :). My friend is in love with 819. I told her that she could just get the union one and return it to being similar to the other – but her heart is set on that blue beauty. Oh these emporia houses. What stories they hold!

    • Hi Sarah!!!! Well, 819 Constitution is not for sale, but its “twin” at 911 Union is! So, should we gang up on your friend and mercilessly tickle her until she buys 911?

  3. Haha! She’s a stubborn one ;). I think she’s holding out. But if I lived in a world where 2 simultaneous renovations wouldn’t make me crazy and money to spare I’d buy it!! But alas, I just wake up every morning wondering, is this the morning my painter finally shows up to paint my poor neglected house? And if he does am I still set on my color pallette? Oh well. Guess he had to show first!

  4. Hi my name is Bob Fancher and my folks bought 911 at auction in 1973 or 1974. We started remodeling it and I spent many hours steaming layers of wall paper off and cleaning wood work with steel wool and sudsy ammonia. The lady that was living in it before auction I belive was last name of Sailer. We found many boxes of old checks to her and ESU. There may of been a tie to the college. She was living in the dining room and burning stuff in the fire place. In the dining room there was a swinging door between the dining and kitchen. There was also a button at what would be the head of the table to ring for maybe a servent. The light fixtures in the foyer, living room, dining room my dad reversed/turned up side down the fixtures and rewired and reused. The front porch was a flat roof and the sides of the upper part were curved to match the north and east upper wall. In the attic area the south wall is wide and I had to craw down it to pull wire when we rewired it. There was a drive way of brick north edge that was narrow that only a MG could drive into. The wood work and the front entry floor is all the original stuff. My dad used all the bath fixtures in the master bath on the first floor.

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