813 NW. 3rd Street
The Rogers House
Built in 1886
Reflecting the mid-Victorian years, this Italianate home was built in 1886 with an open plan and spacious interior that was a significant departure from familiar architectural tradition. The layout of the first floor includes a foyer, dining room and library attached to a large living hall, a feature that emerged as the core of the house. There is also a sunny morning room that has two built-in china cupboards with leaded glass doors.
Built by Clarence F. Mead, a prominent attorney, the home offered many luxuries for his new bride, the former Juanita Wise. A call button summoned the maid, who had her own second-floor bedroom with half bath that could be reached via a back stairway. The second floor is completely divided by a long hallway with windows on either end.
George A. and Della Brown Rogers bought the home in 1901 and added the innovative massive front porch a few years later. The columns and masonry of the porch are of the Richardsonian Romanesque style.
The couple remodeled in 1923, replacing the existing bathrooms, staircase, floors, and woodwork, except in the library. The early Craft movement was influential in the Rogers’ choice of unrelieved oak woodwork. New oak flooring was laid upon the old pine floor. They also added the second floor bay windows, extending one of the hallmarks of the Victorian façade from ground level through two stories.
George Rogers was president of the Abilene National Bank from 1900 to 1928. He bought 12 acres of land, including Sand Springs, from
an eastern estate. He then built a pipeline to the springs and offered the entire system to the city for exactly his cost, $5,000. Abilene secured the finest system of water in the state almost as a gift, according to the March 10, 1928 issue of the Abilene Daily Reflector. When Rogers died in 1928, the Governor of Kansas attended the funeral in the home.
Della Rogers was the daughter of C. L. Brown,
the Abilene man whose success in the milling, utility and telephone business led to the establishment of United Companies, composed of at least 60 corporations.
The house features four sets of pocket doors, three of which have glass panes. Many of the original chandeliers remain, as do the wine- and gold-colored velvet drapes and rods. Also original to the home are the icebox and a hunt table with a yellow pine top. Rogers left a gun cabinet he had built for the upstairs sitting room.
Present owners Don and Edwina Anderson’s choice of wallpapers has been period style,, always endeavoring to add light and warmth to the extremely large rooms with high ceilings, while restoring the Victorian ambiance.
Originally published in Historic Homes of Abilene, The Heritage Homes Association, written by Cecilia Harris, photos by Bob Paull, 1994.