Emporia

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 any city you will be instantly struck by two things:

1) Images before WWII show density. There are a LOT of buildings. The downtown core is surrounded by housing.

2) Post-war images convey a wholly different pattern. There are FAR fewer buildings because countless structures were demolished in a mad craze for…parking lots.

I yearn for a magic wand which could have freeze-framed American cities around, say, 1940. And fixed-rail trolley’s would still be running, too.

Make no mistake though, I am all for the brilliant Modernist structure:

 

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30 St Mary Axe, London. This stunning structure was completed in 2003.

 

The problem is that very few structures built after WWII are brilliant. Most are banal. Many are outright ugly. Few enhance our cities. Sigh. So, with my magic wand I would allow for a very few post-WWII structures. A very few. And only the brilliant need apply.

I also bemoan parking lots replacing density and lovely old structures. Sigh.

 

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ABOVE: This is Constitution, between Seventh and Eighth, in Emporia, Kansas.

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. The house on the SW corner of Constitution and 9th is by Charles W. Squires (marked on the map above as number 829; it is now 831). The house just to its south may be also by Squires (number 825). Just to the south, again, is the last survivor, another Squires design: 819 Constitution, built for Ashbel J. Crocker.

Just to the south again was number 811. It is long gone, and what, I often wondered, did it look like?

 

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Today I found the lost 811 Constitution, the home of William Martindale. Yep, yummy. Sigh. (Courtesy Lyon County Historical Society.)

 

(Walter Sanders—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
Stacia found this image! (Walter Sanders—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

 

 

 

 

8 Responses to Lost Emporia: 811 Constitution

  1. Oh.my.gosh. This just hurts my heart! My little block would have been all the more richer for this house! In other news there appears to be a lot of activity at my neighbor to the north, 831. Tons of trucks that seem to be that of inspectors. Maybe there will finally be a buyer! And PLEASE let them love and restore 831. Please.

  2. I just keep looking! This might be one of the most beautiful houses in emporia that I have ever seen! And it’s gone. I’m sad. I’m actually slightly angry. What beauties this street had!

  3. Well electric has come by, a heating and air person showed up, and then today some guy walking around in an all white (looked like a HASMAT suit lol) going in and out. The realtor was there when electric and air were. Maybe someone has decided to love it enough to buy it! Hopefully! Maybe! Our painter has shown up and doing the prep work here, or was until the snow showed. We are all a lot more air tight over here! I’m pretty sure he has gone through 10 cases of caulking, and he’s still not done! Yeah for restoration!

  4. I saw the picture and actually sighed before I read “sigh”……I think your love of old houses might be thoroughly rubbing off on me.

  5. I found another old photo of the house. It was a fraternity house in 1941, apparently, and made it into a layout in Life Magazine. They just blogged the photo today, and I found an old Emporia Gazette article about the photo which listed the address of the house as 811 Constitution.

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