The Parker-Hamill House

611 NW. 3rd Street

The Parker-Hamill House

Built in 1885

 

John Hamill 1

John Hamill

The compassion that early-day citizens of Abilene showed for one another is evident in a story that surrounds this property.  A few days after Elizabeth Lemaster arrived with the Buckeye Colony in 1870, her husband died in a construction accident.  Within a week, the community reached out to the pregnant woman with two young sons.  A small house was built on this land that Conrad Lebold and Jacob Augustine sold to the widow for a @1 fee.  Mrs. Lemaster baked for the hotel, kept boarders and worked as a seamstress.  It is believed she had one of the first sewing machines in Abilene.

611 NW 3rd #1

This Queen Anne house was considered quite elegant when it was built.

Mrs. Lemaster later married A. W. Gordon and sold the property to Frank L. Parker who built this new home that was featured in the 1887 edition of A Gem, The City of The Plains, Abilene, a promotional booklet.  Parker was a partner in Hobbs, Parker and Company, a grain firm, and in Hallam and Parker, lumber and coal dealers.  Both went out business by 1890.

611 NW 3rd #2

This home was pictured in an Abilene promotional booklet in 1887.

The Illustrated Reflector of 1887 reported that Parker “shows a proper appreciation of home comforts… he has one of the most elegant residences in Abilene.”  The Queen Anne architecture is expressed in the double front doors, eleven-foot-high ceilings, three pocket doorways with ornate fretwork in each, and stained glass, square-paned windows above the double doors and on the first landing of the ornate cherry staircase.

The second floor door onto the front porch balcony also has a border of square-paned stained glass.  Later, the dormers and cresting were removed and the second floor porch was enclosed.  Also,, the turned porch pillars on both the front and east side porches were replaced with large columns and thus the house took on a Colonial Revival look.

611 NW 3rd #3

The fireplace features imported tile.

Elizabeth Harmon purchased the home in 1916 and the funeral for her husband, Jonathan, was conducted there in 1934.  The widow converted the home into a rooming house in the early 1940’s during World War II.

John and Mary Hamill and family, purchased the home in 1976, rescued it from condemnation proceedings, remodeled it and returned it to a single family dwelling in the late 1970’s.

611 NW 3rd #4

Fretwork decorates a doorway.

Although its original use is unknown, the family room on the main level has eight walls and contains sycamore woodwork.  From a house being demolished, the Hamills salvaged pine grooved doors and used them as the wainscoting and doors for the built-in cabinets in this room.

The living room or front parlor has a cherry mantel with imported green glazed Italian tile.  The half bath has the original embossed cast iron lavatory.  The first floor also includes a breakfast room, kitchen, pantry and a sun room.

The original servant’s quarters were located a few steps down from other rooms on the second floor that now contains four bedrooms, one and a half baths, three sleeping porches and a utility room.

 

 

Originally published in Historic Homes of Abilene, The Heritage Homes Association, written by Cecilia Harris, photos by Bob Paull, 1994.

 

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The Mead-Rogers House

813 NW. 3rd Street

The Rogers House

Built in 1886

 

George A Rogers 1

George Amess Rogers

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.

813 NW 3rd #1

The unusual porch design adds drama to the house.

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.

813 NW 3rd #2

The library retains its original look.

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

813 NW 3rd #3

Formal entertaining is done in the dining room.

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,

813 NW 3rd #4

The large living hall is the core of this Italianate house.

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.

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The Harger House

607 NW. 3rd Street

The Harger House

Built in 1885

 

Charles Harger 1

Charles Harger

Dwight D. Eisenhower is said to have visited this home when it was owned by Charles Harger, the editor and owner of The Reflector, one of two local newspapers at that time.  Harger became known as “Mr. Abilene” by traveling extensively and marking friends with many political figures, including Presidents Eisenhower, Harding, Coolidge and Hoover.

Harger and his wife, Blanche, purchased this home in 1893.  The original structure, built in 1885 by E. J. and Sara Warner, was of the Queen Anne style.  In 1927, however, the Hargers built a sleeping porch, second bathroom and two small porches onto the home.  They enlarged the living room and upstairs bedroom, added a fireplace and bookcases, and replaced windows and floors.  In the process, they discarded the decorative Queen Anne porch and added onto the front of the house in order to line it up with other homes on the block.  The home then took on Colonial Revival features.

607 NW 3rd #3

The original Queen Anne house was altered to reflect Colonial Revival features

607 NW 3rd #1After the Hargers died, their three daughters offered in 1955 to sell the hoe to Henry Jameson, Charles’ protégé and successor as editor of the Reflector-Chronicle newspaper.  Jameson and his wife, Bernice, remodeled the kitchen, lightening the woodwork from mahogany to limed oak, enlarged closets and replaced doors.

607 NW 3rd #2

Stained glass is framed to decorate the dining room.

607 NW 3rd #4

The stair hall reflects Colonial Revival detail.

The Jamesons were among former owners, friends, and artists who penned their signatures on an attic wall.

David Eisenhower visited the home in 1968 while conducting research for a biography about the life of his grandfather, President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Ken and Ann Manning, who bought the home in 1973, restored the limestone foundation, replaced 80 years of shingles, added new guttering and repainted the structure.

 

Originally published in Historic Homes of Abilene, The Heritage Homes Association, written by Cecilia Harris, photos by Bob Paull, 1994.

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The Brewer House

418 NW. 5th Street

The Brewer House

Built in 1885

Jacob Elmer Brewer 1

Jacob Elmer Brewer

This Queen Anne house with an emphasized bay front wing has been nicknamed “The Showboat” by local residents who see similarities between the home’s design and a riverboat.  The house was built in 1886 by Thomas C. and Antoinette Sewell, who owned a book stationery and music store.

Jacob Elmer Brewer purchased the home in 1898 and was married two years later.  Brewer, who came to Abilene in 1881, started out as an errand boy in a grocery store and worked his way up to become one of the city’s leading merchants.  He operated a dry goods mercantile and shipped produce to other parts of the state.

418 NW 5th #1

Local residents have nicknamed this home the “Showboat House”.

Active in the Republican party, Brewer served as a state senator from the Dickinson-Clay district from 1905-1909 and was appointed by the governor to become the assistant state business manager.  He served as a member of the Board of Education and also was a director of the Abilene National Bank.

418 NW 5th #2

Windows shed light on the living room located in the bayfront wing.

The home features hand carved front doors and a foyer with a parquet floor.  The living room has three tall, thin windows that reach to the floor.  The dining room has a bay window and a back door containing beveled glass.  Glass-paned French doors in the dining room lead to an office that also can be entered from the hallway.

The second level boasts three bedrooms and a laundry room.  Present owners Kevin and Gina Dalton believe this level contained either a walk-in window or a door to the widow’s walk that once contained an iron railing.

The front stairway features a shelf along the wall between the second and third floors.  The bedroom on the top floor is an original, but the storage attic has been remodeled into a sitting room and bathroom.

 

Originally published in Historic Homes of Abilene, The Heritage Homes Association, written by Cecilia Harris, photos by Bob Paull, 1994.

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The Kirby House

205 NE. 3rd Street

The Kirby House

Built in 1885

Destroyed by Fire in 2013

Thomas Kirby 1

Thomas Kirby

Two prominent men who contributed to the growth and development of the city of Abilene – Joseph McCoy and Thomas Kirby – both once resided on the land on which this house now stands.

McCoy, an ambitious livestock dealer from Illinois, was the first to build a home here on what was then known as Grand Avenue.  McCoy conceived the idea of making Abilene a shipping point for Texas cattle bound for markets in the east and north.  Although his business endeavor turned Abilene into a famous Cowtown, it left McCoy penniless.  His home ended up in the hands of Thomas Kirby, who founded the Kirby Bank in 1878.

205 NE 3rd #1

In 1885, this house was built in the Italianate style.

The Kirby Bank was reported by The Illustrated Reflector newspaper as having a yearly business “not exceeded by any bank west of Topeka in Kansas”.  Thomas Kirby was known to attend strictly to business and deal honorably.  He thus amassed a fortune with which he purchased several blocks in the city and large tracts of land in the county.

205 NE 3rd #2

The reconstructed porch of this Italianate mansion is an exact duplicate of the original.

Thomas also was a civic minded and generous individual.  He often donated both his time and his money to such worthy projects as the building on Mount Saint Joseph’s Academy and the establishment of Kirby Park.  He also served two terms as county treasurer.

In 1885, Kirby moved the McCoy home off the property and built this Second Period Italianate mansion to reflect his pride and position in the community.  After his death, his wife, Annie, sold the home to the Abilene Commercial Club, a private men’s club believed to be the forerunner of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce.  The club added a large dining room at the rear of the home and used the house as its headquarters for 20 years.  In 1944, the structure was sold and transformed into six apartments.

During the home’s lifetime, major changes were made to both the interior and the exterior of the building.

205 NE 3rd #3

An imposing walnut staircase is located in the centered hall.

In 1986, Terry and Jerry Tietjens purchased the structure with the intent of transforming it into a fine restaurant.  After a long restoration process that returned the mansion to its former glorious state, the Kirby House Restaurant opened the next year.

Double front doors lead to the foyer’s parquet floor of walnut, mahogany, oak and maple inlaid in a geometric design.  The leaded glass in the foyer and the hardware throughout the home are originals.  Ceilings are 12 feet high and the doors are nine feet.

The focal point of the front parlor is its original birdseye maple fireplace.  Adjoining the parlor is what was the Kirby family’s dining room, once connected to the kitchen by a butler’s pantry.  Two more parlors on the main floor are separated by pocket doors.

205 NE 3rd #4

In the parlor, the corner fireplace has a mantel of birdseye maple.

Located on the landing of the walnut staircase is a casket niche.  The second floor once housed the Kirby family’s private bedrooms, the original bathroom and the servants’ rooms.  Again, pocket doors separated the master bedroom from its parlor.  An open porch at the rear of the home allowed the Kirbys to enjoy cool summer breezes.  The porch has become the restaurant’s solarium.

The Second Empire period tower, which can be reached from this floor rises four stories above the street and was entirely reconstructed, as was the front porch.

 

Originally published in Historic Homes of Abilene, The Heritage Homes Association, written by Cecilia Harris, photos by Bob Paull, 1994.

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