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 elements.
Moreover, I cannot recall a house with so tumultuous a history. While the Cross House has had an highly convoluted history, too, it has managed, by some miracle, to remain essentially intact.
Not so with 526 Exchange.
There are three bedrooms upstairs.
The attic is now a separate apartment. It uses the north, rear entrance, and the servant’s stair. The apartment was a shock. It is…enchanting. I was with three other people and we all had the same reaction: I LOVE THIS! Really, a more charming apartment could not be found in all of Kansas. I felt like I was in Paris.
The first and second floors are still one unit. There is a full bath on the second floor (no original bits), and a half-bath on the first floor (not original). The kitchen was wholly rebuilt at some point post-1980.
A Conjectural History
526 Exchange has been through a lot:
It was moved. Not far, though.
The house has been foreclosed upon numerous times.
I am guessing, guessing, that during one foreclosure the soon-to-be-evicted owner stripped the house bare. I mean every stained-glass window, every bit of interior trim*, and perhaps the original lighting. Sigh.
A later owner gutted what remained, and installed new sheetrock through-out.
The same owner found stacks of old trim, and installed this through-out.
The house was, briefly, a B&B.
[ *It is clear walking through the house that all the interior trim is, well, odd. Some rooms have several different styles of trim. In other rooms the trim clearly does not quite fit. None of this is readily observable; I tend to see such things because of my long experience with old houses.]
My heart goes out to a house like 526 Exchange. It has suffered a lot. I want to nurture it back to wholeness & health.
The current owners appreciate what they have, after having purchased the house a few years ago. They may, perhaps, consider selling at some point.
Two things weigh heavily against anybody ever investing significant sums into 526.
The house is SMACK against the old Skelly gas station lot. And this has abandoned cars littering an expanse of concrete. However, the owner of the lot MIGHT sell. In my opinion, unless the Skelly lot can be combined with 526 — as they were originally — the future for 526 is not, likely, good. What owner would invest the time and money into this way cool, and way deserving house, with abandoned cars right next door?
Even with all 526 Exchange has been through, what remains is highly appealing.
So, I wish for somebody to buy 526 Exchange, and the Skelly gas station.
I wish for somebody to lavish money on both, expense be damned!
I wish for all the missing stained-glass to be recreated. The Cross House, a block away, offers many excellent templates for Squires-designed stained-glass.
I wish for a period-correct fence to be installed around the two properties.
I wish for the concrete covering the Skelly lot to be removed, and a lovely garden created.
I wish for the Skelly stone buildings, potentially quite charming, to be restored. They could be a great home office. Or guest suite. Or workroom. Or home business. Why, the possibilities abound!
When the exterior of the Cross House is completed, and the landscaping, I deeply believe there will be a resurgence in the immediate neighborhood. 526 Exchange, just a block away, is another landmark house. I have always thought of it as the sister to the Cross House, the big older brother.
With BOTH houses being fully restored, wow, what might happen!