“Wichita! There is something bewitching in thy name. A corps of magicians must have presided at thy birth and the star of empire twinkled in its zenith at thy coming. `Wonderful Wichita’ is no misquotation. She is a marvel to many and a mystery to multitudes.”
When the 1888 Wichita Journal of Commerce crowed thus about the city’s potential, it noted the many magnificent homes that silently and majestically spoke volumes about its business community’s success.
In an effort to save the spirit of Wichita’s past, the Metropolitan Area Planning Department’s Historic Preservation Office helps place grand, old homes on the Wichita Register of Historic Places, the Register of Historic Kansas Places, or the National Register of Historic Places. Here are thumbnail sketches of a few of the city’s historic homes.
The Pratt-Campbell House, 1313 N. Emporia
Rising up out of the ground in breathtaking manner, this house, built in 1887, is noteworthy for its Queen Anne and Romanesque influences. Owned in 1899 by a cattle baron, the brick-and-stone mansion has an imposing roof line with dormers and crest ornaments that speak to the residents’ status.
Johnson Cottage, 133 S. Charles
Significant for its more middle-class status, the Johnson Cottage was designed by architects Proudfoot and Bird in 1887 and an example of the Shingle architectural style. It was built by a stone mason who worked for the architects and has its construction date — 1887 — carved in a floral pattern on the exterior chimney wall.
Enoch Dodge House, 1406 W. Second
Built in 1887 by principal developer Enoch Dodge, one of the first settlers in Old Delano, the house features Queen Anne design, sunburst designs, spindled posts and balustrades. Originally a farmstead, this 14-room, two-story mansion has bay windows, a wrap-around porch and original stained glass.
Clapp Manor, 320 N. Belmont
Built in 1923 for $150,000, the Elizabethan style architecture stands out in the three-story u-shape home and an 800-square-foot great room. It was originally built for Robert Clapp, a prominent Wichita businessman of the day. It is modeled after Sheffield Manor in England, home of a steel magnate.
Fairmount Cottage, 1717 Fairmount
Another Proudfoot and Bird home, Fairmount Cottage was built in the late 1880s for the president of the Kansas Sash and Door Co. Built of limestone and shingle siding, the two-and-a-half-story cottage still has its original stained glass, and a full-width veranda that reaches out across the east facade. Like other Proudfoot and Bird projects, the name of the house is on the exterior wall of the chimney.
Skinner/Lee House, 1344 N. Topeka
A gothic Revival two-story home constructed in 1886 for a wealthy banker, it was originally located at 637 N. Topeka. In 1990 it was moved, which must have been some project. It is noteworthy for its facade bearing two bays, wrap-around porch and double front doors with stained glass windows.
Wiedeman House, 1805 S. Wichita
Representing classical Italianate architectural style, the Weideman House, which was built in 1887, represents one of the few remaining Italianate villas in the city.
The house has an east wing with projecting bay, entrance porch and upper level balcony. Typical of this design, the villa has an angular tower, balustrades, eave brackets and a low pitched roof.
Hypatia House, 1215 N. Broadway
Designed and built between 1903 and 1906, this is an example of Dutch Colonial Revival architecture with a front gambrel roof, a front wrap-around porch, Tuscan columns, wide eave overhangs and clay tile roof.
The original owner was manager of the local coal company, but in 1934 the home became headquarters for the Hypatia Club, a national self-improvement organization for women.
Henry J. Allen House, 255 N. Roosevelt
No list of Wichita’s grandest, historical abodes would be complete without some mention of the Henry J. Allen House. Known nowadays as the Frank Lloyd Wright house, it was designed by the famous architect in 1917 for Allen, a Kansas governor and prominent journalist. When finished after World War I, the house was known for its sweeping low roof line, ornamental stone trim and as an example of one of Wright’s so-called “Prairie Houses.”