Today, I spent the afternoon at the Gufler Mansion in Emporia, a guest of Susan and Brad.


Brad mentioned that they had the original drawings. This information made me salivate, and I looked at Brad with pleading eyes and said: “Please, sir, can I see the drawings? Please? Please?”

And then two hours vanished in a flash as Susan and Brad and I, like kids let loose in a candy store, poured over the drawings spread across the dining table, while running from room to room and from floor to floor trying to make sense of What Was and What Is.

Fewer things bring me more joy.

Which brings me to back to a post I did recently about a strange tiny door in the house:


On the third floor is this tiny, floor-level door.


The opening had metal rods across it, which were clearly original. 


Brad said he was told the door was to the “dust chute”. So, one would sweep, and then push the debris down the chute and into the basement. I had never seen such a feature and was slightly skeptical. But what else could it have been? There was no threshold, meaning that dust and debris could have been easily swept into the chute.

Well, y’all got into a furious debate about this! And my friend, Carl, who owns a huge old house in Wichita, sent me this image:


In Carl’s 1909 main bathroom on the second floor is this petit, floor-level door. Carl said it was the laundry chute, even though I had never seen a floor-level laundry chute before. But, it does have a threshold, meaning that it could NOT have been a dust chute. In addition, by having the laundry chute placed low, a built-in cabinet was fitted above. Well, that makes sense!


The original drawings for the Gufler Mansion, third floor, show the lost elevator, the dust chute (which reads here like Dual Chute), and the Clothes Chute (C. C.) around the corner.


The basement drawings show, again, the elevator shaft, the Dust Chute (clearly labeled here), and, fascinatingly, how the laundry chute spilled into a tiny room with a Louvre Door (to aerate the clothes).


In the basement, the dust chute opening has been bricked up, as well as the adjacent elevator door opening, and the laundry Louvre Door.


We discovered that while the elevator shaft on the first, second, and third floor has all been repurposed, the shaft is extant on the basement level behind the bricked-up opening. I had an overwhelming desire to tear out the brick STAT but, luckily, I managed to contain myself with the mantra: This ain’t my house. This ain’t my house. This ain’t my house.

Really, I should get an award for self-restraint.


Even though the elevator shaft has been repurposed on three levels, this could all be reversed without significant impact on the house. I also cannot help but think: Is the elevator cab entombed behind the bricked-up basement opening????????

It appears that the dust chute is intact, and could be used as such again. As could the clothes chute which, curiously, never opened to the second floor. And, as with the bricked-up elevator opening, I cannot help but wonder: WHAT is behind the bricked-up laundry opening????????

In going through all the drawings it was a revelation at how many changes have ensued over the decades. For example, the original kitchen and butler’s pantry were gutted in 1965 and transformed into a suite with a bedroom and bathroom (the kitchen was moved into the basement). This was later undone and the whole area in now an expansive kitchen. We also discovered stunning, and previously unknown, alterations to the main stair, as well as numerous fascinating changes over the years.

I am lucky in that my big old house is all pulled apart. So, making a mess inside is not a particularly onerous thing. But Susan and Brad are running a guest house so creating HUGE dust clouds is so not a desirable option right now. However, if they ever leave town and ask me to house sit?



  1. Seth Hoffman on December 19, 2018 at 8:36 pm

    That is a fascinating confirmation! I too, was skeptical, so I’m quite glad to be correctly educated that it was in fact intended as a dust chute!

    And once again, I’m jealous of owners who have the original drawings for their house.

  2. Carl on December 19, 2018 at 9:04 pm

    I have serched online high and low for anything even remotely similar. I wonder if this was just a weird idea of the architect. Must have been a man.

  3. Jenine on December 19, 2018 at 11:27 pm

    It seems like a dust chute was that era’s equivalent to central vac? I wonder if it was also used for trash?

  4. Sandra Diane Lee on December 20, 2018 at 6:42 am

    Original drawings for Brad & Susan’s house we were so fun to see! Also as in the Cross House what were the original intentions of the architect. So the dust chute mystery solved!

  5. Mike on December 20, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    And I wonder what is at the bottom of the dust chute…with a door on each floor, no telling what had fallen down it over the years since it was bricked up.

  6. Nathan on December 23, 2018 at 1:55 am

    Oh my if the elevator cab was still in there that would be SO FRICKIN COOL! I demand that you do an update if he ever decides to pull down those brick insertions 😉

    Ps. your self control amazes me.

  7. djd on December 25, 2018 at 11:23 am

    One does wonder how much dirty laundry might be piled up behind the bricks.

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