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, new porch railings), the fact that the 19th-century porch survived was impressive.

It would not have taken much to restore the exterior, and the house would have been a very sweet charmer.


1017 Mechanic.

1017 Mechanic.


1017 Mechanic.

1017 Mechanic.


1017 Mechanic.

1017 Mechanic.



The stripping begins.



Somebody at least salvaged the sweet brackets but did not bother with the columns.



I wish I had a picture of the staircase before…



May, 2015.


As I noted, parking lots do not make for great cities.

Cool old house, and density, does.

Mechanic Street is one block from Emporia’s main street, Commercial. Having housing close to a main street is highly desirable; the more the better. When a large residential population is adjacent to a main street, there are more customers for restaurants, bars, stores, theaters, and all the cool things which make main streets so interesting.



  1. Denali Dragonfly on May 30, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    I agree! I would much rather see the old houses restored, including the two much larger ones on Commercial that were torn down before these five. Now they are building the new Chelsea Lofts in place of the two, hence the need to sacrifice the five smaller ones for parking. There may soon be more people living on the 1000 block in between Commercial & Mechanic than before, so the opposition might argue that point. But it is at a high cost to the integrity and history of the city.

    I heard a part of this story that I LOVE. The developers offered the owners of Willard’s Doughnuts any location of his choice available in the city. He refused. YAY! Even though it’s just a concrete block rectangle, that’s what it takes, is for property owners to not give in. But then we only know a glimpse of their situations.

    I ponder if ten years from now The State of Kansas/ESU will have leveled all the houses between Exchange Ct. and Market. If I’m still here then and they try to buy me out, I plan to adamantly refuse. Unless of course by that time there are other circumstances I’m not aware of now that I need to let it go. Where is that crystal ball? I could really use it now, too.

    • Ross on May 30, 2015 at 6:59 pm

      I was OK with the two houses on Commercial being demolished to make way for a 3-story apartment building with retail on the ground level.

      This makes the city BETTER.

      However, the five houses on Mechanic were, if I am correct, demolished for what will be a city-owned parking lot not associated with the new apartment building.

      • Denali Dragonfly on May 30, 2015 at 7:03 pm

        I may be wrong, but I thought the newspaper said it was a joint agreement and would be shared space between Chelsea Lofts and the city. Certain spaces would be reserved for Chelsea residents only.

        • Ross on May 30, 2015 at 7:12 pm

          I might be wrong, too. I am basing my comments on this article, which makes it clear that the parking lot on Mechanic is a separate project from the Chelsea Loft project.

          • Denali Dragonfly on May 31, 2015 at 11:22 am

            I think this is the article I remember, but I didn’t re-read it completely again.

  2. Ross on May 31, 2015 at 11:46 am

    Thanks Grace. The article you linked to is really confusing. However, it supports my above statement that the Mechanic parking lot is a separate, and publicly-owned, project from that of the adjacent Chelsea Loft project.

    The article indicates however that Chelsea Loft tenants MIGHT be able to purchase parking passes to the lot, effectively making it a PRIVATE rather than PUBLIC lot.

    However, while I support the Chelsea Loft Project, I still deeply believe that parking lots do not make great cities. New York City is notoriously difficult to find a parking space yet the city is THRIVING. As I also stated previously, Portland, OR, just said no to more parking 30 years ago in the downtown core, and it, too, is THRIVING.

    What makes a great downtown is DENSITY of buildings and people. Vast swaths covered in asphalt harm a city.

    • Denali Dragonfly on May 31, 2015 at 12:33 pm

      I agree with you Ross about not “paving paradise to put up a parking lot,” I also think the article is confusing. From past experience, I’ve come to expect anything written by either of the two reporters named “Jessie” is often confusing and sometimes inaccurate and never proofread. For example I made an assumption that even though it reads the parking lot on “Commercial,” I assume it should read “Mechanic.” There are already two parking lots in that block of Commercial. One on the east appears to be owned by Family Video, the other on the west (across from the Chelsea Lofts location) appears to be owned by Genesis Health club, but that is only my assumption. Maybe the city owns it, but it’s been there a while now and I can’t imagine this is the one they were debating about in the meeting this article reports. I’ve been considering attending these meetings to learn first hand. Let me know if you want to join me.

  3. Becky on June 1, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    It was wonderful being able to walk downtown this past weekend to watch the Dirty Kanza finishers. We’ve lived here 8 years, and this is the first year I’ve been there for it. I never wanted to bother when I had to get in my car, drive across town (yes, clear across Emporia!), and park. I had a great time and when my kids wanted to leave and I wasn’t ready, I was able to send them on home. I love having a cool old house near downtown!

    • Denali Dragonfly on June 2, 2015 at 9:47 am

      I agree Becky, I LOVE living within walking distance to downtown Emporia.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will NEVER be made public or shared, and you may use a screen name if you wish.