Every house has a history and a town’s housing reflects the story of its people. In Eudora, the earliest housing was of wood, because timber was plentiful. Brick, used more in buildings than houses, also proved easy to obtain, because Eudora had a brick factory by the Wakarusa River.
Eudora’s dwellings, too, reflect the advance of the mid-nineteenth century when machine-made products began replacing handwork, thus causing more standardized housing. As the wealth of a community, too, is reflected in its housing, Eudora housing shows a fairly even economic distribution with its early and later dwellings offering testament to a middle-economic class lifestyle.
Sixteen men, four women, and assorted children shared the first house in Eudora, an 18-foot by 20-foot, one-story log cabin. Crude log cabins with thatched roofs evolved into small frame or stone houses, typically with four rooms, built around Fifth Street and Sixth Street and along Main Street. Showplaces were few and far between as Eudora citizens concentrated on making a living in a frontier land edging toward civilization. The stone home of John Fish, 710 Church Street, built in the 1850s, is a good example of the era.
Housing styles. On a single block in the heart of Eudora, there may be a Victorian-era house, a trailer, a ranch house, and a multi-family unit. North of Tenth Street, many housing styles may be unrecognizable because of extensive remodeling. One clue as to whether those houses were built by Eudora’s early German population is whether the house has one or more rooms on a lower level with a step or two between rooms. “Two-down, two-up” was a popular style of early houses, many of which have been enlarged.
Recent subdivisions share housing traits, such as the bi-level design in Hunters’ Ridge on the west edges of Eudora. The ranch houses of Winchester Estates between Twelfth Street and Sixteenth streets in western Eudora were developed by George Waters and Larry Midyett who bought the 58 acres from the Eudora School District in 1989, originally platting 144 houses. Each ranch home was built a little over a thousand square feet, not including the basement. The original price range was between $65,000 to $70,000 and included eligibility for Farmer's Home Administration financing that requires no downpayment.
Then there’s the modified ranches of northern Prairie Estates in southeast Eudora developed by Hamilton Properties of Leawood, Kansas, on land bought from Marie Eder in 1990. Greenway Addition, an area containing Prairie Estates, had almost 300 homes built from 1990 to 1996. Later houses in this area were built larger in a higher price range. Whispering Meadows, a subdivision adjacent to Prairie Estates constructed by B.R. Coppinger Construction, offered eight different floor plans in houses initially priced from $150,000 to $200,000. By 2005, half of the lots were sold in this area between 14th Street and 15th Street, east of Arrowhead Drive. The Meadowlark Development Group, LCC, launched its second phase with 30 houses in 2003 on streets named after birds, and in 2006, the city voted to add the Deer Valley subdivision on 30 acres on 1400 Road.
Rose Acres, built on 70 acres of land that Oscar Broers developed on the former Pilla farm and picnic area along the Wakarusa River, has houses on small acreages as does Hesper Heights, which was developed in 14, five-acre tracts for homes originally in the $130,000 price range.
Meadowlark, platted to contain 500, single-family homes on land just south of Church Street exit on Kansas 10 Highway by Brett Fritzell Builders Inc., initially offered 14 different floor plans ranging from 1,500 to more than 3,500 square feet.
Frame houses predominate in Eudora with many older, two-story houses such as 714 Twelth Street, the long-ago Neustifter family home, a variance of the Midwestern rectangular vernacular housing style. Some of these have Victorian accent detailing, for example, 839 Locust Street built in 1904; 1122 Church Street built by Henry Myers and his Swiss wife in 1892 and lived in by their daughter, Anna and husband George Gerstenberger until the 1970s shown here in the photograph; or the nine-room, frame residence at 723 Church Street built by Carl Durr on two lots in 1894 for his bride. This house along with a barn, outbuildings, and some furniture was sold to the druggist Homer White in 1904 when the Durrs to their new ranch in Artesia, New Mexico.
One such Victorian gem is the 733 Pine Street house nestled in mock orange bushes, old hackberry and walnut trees, and pines sprung from former Christmas trees. This is Eudora’s only house with wrought iron Victorian trim work, especially distinctive around the chimney surround, a miniature widow’s walk. Once decorated with ornate gingerbread detailing, the house now has burnt yellow siding with triangular strip accentuation.
Inside transom widows abound; one over the front door features etched glass flowers in a hexagonal design. Of particular interest is the stained glass dining room window with its five square pattern of red, green, yellow, purple, and gray hues surrounding a clear circular inset. Owners of this home included Dale and Wendy Wheeler, Darren Roper, Virgil Mills, Ernest Simon, Fred Stewart, Lavern Wayland, Kelvin Hoover, and the Garrett family.
West of this house is 803 Acorn Street, built in 1880, whose owners at one time, the Seiwalds, also had chicken coops, small barns for livestock, and other outbuildings. While other early Eudora families often had large gardens, fruit trees, and berry patches, the Seiwalds had extensive orchards.
Often one- or one and one-half-story, the Craftsman Bungalow style, popular in the first quarter of the twentieth-century, is exemplified at 729 Elm Street, 815 Fir Street, 1039 Church Street, 1035 Elm Street, 1101 Elm Street, 112 E. Sixth Street, 607 Main Terrace, 706 Maple Street (built 1930 with 728 square feet) and one-fourth mile south of 1061 and K-10 Highway by the Eudora Middle School. Studs at the bungalow house at 1131 Elm showed it was originally ordered from Sears Roebuck & Company when it sold house kits between 1908 and 1940. This home doesn’t have the brackets under the eaves that are characteristic of this style.
A classic example of this style is 1023 Elm Street. This house dates to 1917, according to previous owners and a date on the living room plaster wall. Distinctive Craftsman features are book case room partitions with colonnades, window seat, built-in linen closet, a china cabinet in the divided light style, extensive trim, and copper hardware. The east dormer (originally a nursery) links to other bedrooms, which have walk-in closets with their windows and built-in drawers. Harriett Banks said her parents, Carl Schubert and Rose Wilhelmina Krueger Schubert, built the home. She said the basement was built to store the hearse used in the family’s undertaking business, and her father initially wanted to use the front living room as a displaying chapel for embalmed bodies.
The largest example of this style is the home built by George Lothholz, owner of the Eudora lumberyard, at 621 Main Terrace. The kitchen was remodeled in 1995, and later owners re upstairs walls to create a larger bedroom and added wainscoting to the living room. Stone walls bordering the south yard add an imposing aura to the house. A few doors north at 607 Main Street Terrace is a similar 2,591-square foot home with four bedrooms built in 1939.
While Eudora has several Craftsman houses, it has but one reflecting a French influence with a mansard roof -- the sandstone, three-story home with a three-story tower long known as the Rosenau House, a half mile south of Eudora. Of 1870s origin, the home with five acres was listed at the reduced price of $80,000 in 1997 because of weakened structural integrity.
Not surprisingly, the ranch style house has been popular in Eudora as it has throughout the United States. These ranches range from one thousand to eighteen hundred square feet and have full basements or rest on slab foundations. Examples of early ranch houses in Eudora and their year of construction are at 203 East Sixth Street (1947), 826 Locust Street (1955), 810 Acorn Street (1956), 804 Pine Street (1965), 406 East Seventh Street (1971), and 403 East Sixth Street (1975).
Perhaps the most unusual house style in Eudora is the circle house at 1219 Elm Street. In 1969, Leo Lauber and R. B. Cowden had the American Fiberglass Company build this house entirely round in shape. The house was the first round fiberglass house built in the United States, and the third in the world, according to its sponsors. When new, the $8,000 home had living area in the front half, a kitchen in the north quarter, bedroom, and bath. The house has since had an addition. A June 25, 1969, Eudora Enterprise article describes the home and includes its debut photograph.
With the influx of the Sunflower Ordnance Works employees, Eudora tripled in size within months during World War II. Housing needs were met by renting out any available structure and converting basements, attics, sheds, and other possible living spaces into rental units. During this time, mobile homes, also known as trailer homes, first appeared in Eudora, which sprouted three trailer park areas to meet the need. By 1980, Eudora would have 180 mobile homes in six areas, including Wayne’s Mobile Home Court between Tenth Street and Twelfth Street on the eastern edge of Eudora.
When Paul and Christine Sommer purchased their 925 Church Street house in 1943 from the family of Fred “Fritz” Neis, housing was scarce and for a clear title, the signatures of 53 Neises had to be obtained. Paul Sommer said that the back part of his house originally sat in front. When a family named Misteles owned it, they the front of the house (built early 1900s) to the back of the lot: The back, which was quite a bit older than the front, was boxed with walnut and wild cherry lumber sawed at the Eudora lumber yard. Not long after the Sommers died within months of each other, the back of the house caught on fire (April 2005) as seen in this photograph.
Since those war years, rental properties have made a strong mark on Eudora. Some houses in Eudora that have detached rental units include, 918 Birch Street (studio apartment behind carport, circa 1870); 739 Church Street (upstairs converted into apartment with kitchenette, a second smaller house has two bedrooms, kitchen, laundry area, and bathroom; 1005 Church Street (garage); and 830 Locust Street (dwelling above garage). An influx of rental properties also began to appear in the 1980s when commuters discovered Eudora’s desirable highway location.
The war years also resulted in houses actually moved to Eudora from Sunflower Village now known as Clearview City. These can be seen on White Dog Road and to the northwest part of town such as 827 Acorn Street. Several of these have the gray asbestos siding common to these houses. Another “moved” house is at 811 Church Street; it formerly was by the Sinclair Pumping Station and moved in the 1940s when the station closed.
Housing ages. To find the age of a Eudora house takes record checking and lots of luck. Property titles at the Douglas County Courthouse oniy go back so far; when there is a jump in the taxes that is a good indication a house was built or outbuildings. Real estate titles that did list age are mostly buried in boxes donated to the Lawrence Public Library by certain mortgage companies. Real estate listings commonly list age as estimated by an appraiser. Hitching posts (there’s one at 915 Church Street ), brick floor basements, plaster, and cisterns are just a few clues that a house is of advanced age. According to Eudora Community Heritage, Frank Shafer, a brick layer and stone mason, laid the bricks in most of Eudora’s earliest cisterns. Look on the plaster walls, too, for names or dates. John White, who lived three miles west of Eudora, did a lot of plaster work during the first three decades of the 1900s. Henry White, in 1899, plastered a record of six houses in one month.
On the outside concrete at the Henry Ziesenis house at 802 Elm Street, “1884” is marked, the year the house is thought to have been built, as is “1926” when additional concrete work was done. Glen Jackson, the current owner, said his parents bought the house in 1965 from Marshall Nunn and the dirt-floored rock basement also has rock steps. He and his father, Hugh, redid the outside porch to match the original and also replaced some outside decorative elements to match the original.
For Mary Kay (Sommer) Gregory, 911 Church Street , finding a well under her bedroom floor while remodeling was further proof that her house built by relative Frank Sommer had a long history. Stephen Scherer built the house next door, 915 Church Street, in 1902 with a rear kitchen annex. Originally, it was a one and one-half story frame, 14-foot by 28-foot house. Said Janet (Sommer) Campbell, “He was Dee Seiwald's great-grandfather and Dee remembered going there as a kid; his mother, Martha recalls having her wedding reception there. Also, my dad always told me that there was a store on the site (915 Church) and that it was torn down to build the house - but that the basement was the original, but I could never verify.” The Hesper Friends parsonage also has a board-up well in the basement.
Insulation is another indicator. When Herb and Helen Miner bought the house at 726 Elm Street, the residence for many years of Fred Ziesenis, Eudora’s only tailor, and his family who moved here in 1887, they found the walls insulated with broken bricks. And, that house, said Sherri Regalado, an occupant, has three inside wells: “There is one under the dining room, the living room, and one under the basement stairs. The house cats sometimes fall into them ─ and we have to get the cats out.”
Often these houses are so extensively remodeled that they don’t resemble their original appearance as exemplified in 1727 Oak Street or 711 Fir (built 1891). Said Diana Bretthauer, owner of 1139 Oak Street, which used to be the site of her beauty salon from 1980 to 1990, “This house must be at least 80 years old. When we redid this house, we found lots of square nails. It belonged to Judy and Roger Broers. Roger’s grandfather built it, and Roger’s mom Frederica (“Fritz”) lived here. The kitchen used to be a little back room, we took out a wall and made it bigger. The porch is a wrap-around on the west and south; on the east used to be a ‘square box’ that we added a window to. To get to the basement you had to go in from the outside. We fixed that by putting down a concrete floor on the dirt and adding drywall. The upstairs had two bedrooms with angled ceilings — we added a bath upstairs.”
The house on Tenth Street and Birch Street on the southwest corner is another old-timer that has been revamped. A chain of titles after Pfeif and Durr shows these owners: Henry Carsten (1860s), Christian Jacob Epple (1869) (probable house builder), Peter Hartig (1874), John Madl (1899), Frederick and and Elizabeth Shellack (1913), Fred Ziesenis Jr.(1920), Albert and Lilly Miller (1925), Mathias Grosididier (1926), Glen and Clara Brown (1942), John and Elizabeth Snyder (1953), Fred and Faye Christian (1958), Kenneth and Patricia Snow (1973), and Helen Sommer (1986). By the time Sommer bought the house, it was an unpainted eyesore that she had remodeled into the attractive house 314 E. 10th Street is now.
In 1976, the Eudora Community Heritage claimed that the following date from the 1860s:
“Six houses on the east side and one on the west side of Birch Street between Seventh and Twelfth; nine homes on the east side of Church Street between Sixth and Twelfth and eight on the west side; six homes on the east side of Locust Street between Fifth and Eighth and six on the west; four homes on the east side of Elm Street between Sixth and Seventh and eleven houses on the west side; between Fourth and Ninth Street on Main Street there were eighteen houses, including those on Tenth Street; two houses on the east side of Maple Street between Fifth and Ninth and four on the west between Ninth to Fourteenth; at Tenth and Oak on the east is one and three in the 600 block, one at Eleventh on the west; one at Fifth and Acorn, one on Tenth Street, and one in the 600 block, and another at Seventh Street on the west side; one at Fir Street and Seventh; one at Tenth and Eleventh and Pine; one on Spruce at Tenth Street.” [The Community Heritage does not indicate how these ages were determined; but notes in a hand-written file indicate the information came from an 1873 map.
On Church Street, according to an atlas of the time, the homes belonged to: H. Meyer, Neustifter, A. J. Haelsig, J. R. Whittler, Lawson, Darling, Merz, and Pfeiffer; on Locust, (east) E. Wleford, G. Guntz, L. Neustifter, J. Kellerman, P. Kellerman, L. Vitt, (west) R. Vaux, D. Kraus, P. Huber, J. Kerr, Seiwald, Beckle; on Elm (east) Hartig, Weber, Durr, Dollinger, Guenter, (west) Richards, Mendenhall, Schilling, Dollinger, Goff, Cohn, Chon, Pfeiffer, Rote, Prang; on Maple, Vitt, Kellerman, Cole, Dick, Fox, Feldman; Oak, Fox, Adams, Clark, Schliefer, and Fendt; on Acorn, Hartig, Coward, Vitt, H. Ziesenis; on Fir, A. Ziesenis; on Pine, King and Crisn; on Birch, Braggart, Summer, Chanberger, Hadl, Madl, Armen.] While some of these and others that total 96 houses predating to the nineteenth century have been razed, many remain.
Examples include 11 East Seventh Street (basement supports are tree trunks with intact bark; this house had several addition in 1990s), which was the Jacob Dolisi rooming house from 1888 to 1924, according to the Eudora Community Heritage. A photograph owned by Gerry (Dolisi) Hertzler, Gardner, Kansas, given by Eudora by Carole (Dolisi) Bean, shows that Cottage House Boarding House on one side with a connecting addition fronted by a small fenced yard to the Dolisi Meat Market. Another is 412 East Seventh Street, long known as the Kaegi House built by John Kaegi, a retired farmer, by 1903 and the site of Merlin’s Ice Company for many years. Kaegi tore down his former house in 1899 to build his new one.
Many houses outside city limits obviously date to earlier years, such as the Alternbernd house, which was built by Konrad Alternbernd in 1861-1862 located in the Kaw Valley bottoms west of Eudora. It contains rock quarried from the Wakarusa River and walnut lumber throughout.
Another, an 1866 brownstone, is located southwest of Hesper Church and was once the Hesper parsonage. Its original builder and owner was murdered by highway robbers while hauling lumber to build the house. Another house to the south, 861 E. 2100 Road, said Kallie Male, an owner, was built by the Thoren family in the 1890's and remained in the family until sold to pay estate taxes. Over the years, the Males have gutted the kitchen, pantry, and other rooms while preserving the house’s Victorian ambience.
One of Eudora’s oldest houses is the Ziesenis house, 1021 Elm Street, which also reflects the changing nature of Eudora’s earliest houses. According to an 1875 town map, C. K. Kohler owned the southern half of block 148 and had this house, the only one on the block. Dr. White lived in the house during the 1890s, and Gustave J. Ziesenis moved it in 1896 with his mother-in-law Durst and said that he moved in to “an old house,” according to Arno Ziesenis, his son.
Being a perfectionist, everything in and around the house, the yard, garden, apple orchard, and pasture was neat and orderly. Because their house was a large one, whenever the relatives came to Eudora for the many Ziesenis reunions, they usually stayed at Gus’ house.”
When Carrie’s mother came to live with them, she immediately planted a grape vineyard and, using her own wine press, made wine every year. Early photographs show that the house was fenced (at least in the front), had two chimneys (the one to the south is no longer in use), flower boxes along the front porch railings, and wooden boxes on poles for plantings in the northern part of the yard. Grand-daughter Lois (Gerstenberger) Neis remembered the huge ice cooled refrigerator that sat above the basement steps, the bay window and window seat her grandmother had Gus make, the chicken house in the backyard, and the cistern on west side of house “very definitely in use with little cups on the chain, you turned the wheel, and the little cups came up.” Gus and Caroline Ziesenis sold the house to Dana Kidd, their son-in-law in 1919. Gus and Caroline continued living at the house until Caroline died in 1947. The northern part of the house was sectioned off for Gus’ use, and during World War II, the northwest bedroom was rented to one of the many who came to work at Sunflower Ordnance Works.
Neighbor to the west, Mary Nusbaum, said she remembered when she moved to Eudora in 1949 there was a small outdoor, two-seated toilet by the alley [bathroom had only a tub in it then] next to the chicken house. The house, Nusbaum said, was always painted white, and Gus Ziesenis lived in the two northern rooms. In the 1990s, the owners put a sign commemorating the house’s history to cover a coal chute. They also added Victorian gingerbread decoration in the front and back.
Who’s who houses. Several houses bear attention because of their occupants. The 102 East Seventh Street house (or 639 Elm Street) was built in the 1860s by Charles Durr, an original German settler who handled the initial Eudora land transactions. Durr was also one of Eudora’s first mayors and owned the floor mill. This house was extensively remodeled in 1970s. Henrietta Durr built a four-room house in 1892 (a real estate listing dates the house to 1895) on the southeast corner of Seventh Street and Elm Street at 103 E. Seventh Street, which, in 2003 grew to 5,277 square feet with five bedrooms and five bathrooms when Rob Howig; his wife, Susan; and her mother added an east addition. Four years later, the house was offered for sale for $840,000 after Susan’s mother broke her hip and moved to a Lawrence assisted living facility. The Hagenbuch House, 831 Church Street, was long owned by Henry Hagenbuch, owner of a Eudora meat market and ice plant on the Wakarusa River banks for many years. Hagenbuch added the second story in 1890.
Long a corner of charm, 802 Church Street bears distinction as the house of Doctor Robinson who came to Eudora in 1888. He served as mayor twice and was Justice of Peace at this death. He built the linked smaller building to the south for his office. The Robinsons resided earlier at 1022 Church Street. The 1 ½ story Victorian home at 802 Church owned by Robinson and built in 1900 is 1,850 square feet with a partial basement, three bedrooms, two baths, and a 15-feet by 26-feet living room.
Another home built by a physician isn’t as well known nor is he, but is a stand-out house on the Johnson-Douglas County Line just south of Highway K-10. Dr. H. B. Kibbler built the house in 1938 with 14-feet pillars extending from the front porch to the roof of the colonial home. Inside a winding walnut stairway from a former Lawrence hospital leads to the second floor. That staircase, said Vestana (von Achen) Ahlen, originally was from a New Orleans bordello.
The 16-foot by 26-foot living room has a large fireplace; the dining room was built to overlook a four-acre lake (which was later enlarged). Originally, a 1,500 barrel cistern with tiles was built to furnish the house’s water supply. Of special interest is Kibbler’s “cabin room” with a walnut stairway (also from a hospital) leading to storage loft. A stone outbuilding now serves as the family’s architectural office.
The Lothholz, three-story farm home one mile east of Eudora, and three-quarters of a mile north that has been in the Lothholz family since it was built in the 1870s by Charles Lothholz who owned 300 acres of adjoining land. The five rooms upstairs and the five down, are “huge with ten-feet ceilings,” Brigitte (Lothholz) Pringle said. Downstairs are three sets of pocket doors, three fireplaces, ornate woodwork, and two staircases — one a spiral beauty, the other a back stair from the kitchen to the upstairs. The stairway to the small attic has high, narrow steps that make for tricky climbing. An outside building, with matching features of the house, was once used as a home office. Elizabeth Lothholz also had an aviary built outside to house her pet birds.
Of all Eudora houses, no other is more recognizable and noted than the Pilla house, 615 Main Street, on a hill east of the downtown park. Charles Pilla, merchant, used walnut, oak, cherry, and fruitwood grown on his land surrounding the city to build the 22-room, three-story home designed and constructed by William Nadelhoffer of Lawrence. Frank Schaefer of Eudora worked with stonemasons from Lawrence to lay its foundation in April of 1894. The Eudora newspaper reported that at one time eight carloads of lumber were brought in for the house. Painted in October and moved into that December, the 50-foot long house with its double-hung windows was to said to have cost $10,000. The framed house with horizontal clapboards also has wood shingles with angled corners that appear diamond shaped. Its roof, which overhangs the walls and is supported by wood brackets, is a steep pitch gable with intersecting gables on the north, west, and south sides.
The tower on the north side was removed because woodpeckers weakened it, and in 2009 a new one with a finial replaced it. Although the windmill no longer provides the home’s water, the house remains close to its original condition.
Inside a fruitwood china cupboard covers the side of one dining room wall and a French door with copper hardware separates two parlors. Three fireplaces of Italian marble with a floral motif are in the house, which had a pot-bellied stove in the basement and heating pipes to all rooms in the house. The basement also holds a short tunnel in the basement that Pilla built for refuge during tornadoes, and the kitchen has a large pantry, several cabinets, a dumbwaiter, and a door to both the cellar and the back stairs. Another kitchen door leads to the storeroom with four steps leading to a 4’ x 8’ wine cellar. The third floor has five large rooms and an attic lookout. Kansas State professor Charles Hall wrote about the house in Kansas Country Living (November 1978) and noted its bracketed eaves, barge boards at gables, delicate lacework trim along the porch and colonnade, and brass hardware throughout. The only house in Eudora on the National Register of Historic Places, it achieved this status September 6, 1974.
Johanna (Pearson) Lawson, the wife of Elmer Lawson who was a grandson of Charles Pilla, wrote a letter in 1976 about the last days of Molvia Pilla. Lawson said she and her husband looked after “Aunt Molvie” who was ill “a good bit of the time.” Pilla spend most of her time in a Lawrence hospital or a nursing home. “Her home was broken into and many things stolen, windows knocked out and it was concluded she was never able to remain the house again, it was best to sell the contents and house.” The sale took place in June 1963. Molvie Pilla died Dec. 12, 1964 in a nursing home in Osage City .
The house built at 625 Locust Street, too, is another “who’s who” house. It was built through the organization Habitat for Humanity by local volunteers who donated their labor to provide a home for a family in need of housing. West of Eudora on Fifteenth Street, 1928 N 1500 Road, is where Sara Paretsky, a mystery writer grew up. In her 2008 Bleeding Kansas, Paretsky writes of three families who live in the Eudora community.
Dual purpose houses. Many Eudora’s public and business buildings are now private residences, such as Eudora’s City Hall built at the town’s origin and moved to 731 Maple Street in 1955. The first house north of St. Paul Church was built in 1879 and used as a hall for Temperance Union meetings. The English Methodists bought it in 1886 for worship until 1916 when they sold it to Clarence Copp who tore down most of it in the 1920s and used the remaining sections for his family’s residence. German Methodist Church services (before 1870) were held at the southeast corner house on Sixth and Main upstairs, and the minister lived downstairs. This house’s gingerbread decorative triangle was so heavy that it took three men to lift it in 1997 while repainting the house, according to Guy Barr, local carpenter. A tossed cigarette caused this home to burn down in 2001, and James Hoover bought the lot to build a multi-unit rental property, a decision that caused several neighborhood protest meetings. Another former church is the Black Methodist Church, 610 Church Street, which dates before the 20th century and now is a private residence.
The corner home at 739 Locust Street, one of the few stone houses in Eudora, used to be a hotel and stables (west side of back yard), and town jail for a while, said Mrs. Decker, an owner who had abstracts dating the house to the early 1860s. Vi (Gerstenberger) Fleming said her grandfather, Christian Thoren, bought the house for $815 in 1900 and sold it six months later for $1,200.
The stucco house at 2 West Tenth Street used to be a gasoline filling station with the White Spot café and bus stop for workers traveling back and forth from Sunflower Ordnance Works, while 203 East Seventh Street housed the Mutual Telephone Office for many years. Eudora’s brick school house built in 1903, 626 Church Street, closed in 1951; its top section was removed, and today consists of multi-family rental units. Several rural one-room schoolhouses also have been converted into houses (and outbuildings), such as the Fall Leaf School House.
Another house is the former Methodist parsonage at 715 Church Street. With its gingerbread trim, wraparound porch, and fishscale ornamentation on the upper east gable, the former parsonage is a modern-day, fairy tale cottage. Many church members said they had worked on the house such as Glen Wineinger who remembered helping lower the ceiling in the 1960s to conserve heat and redoing the kitchen. He said the present-day downstairs bathroom was formerly the back porch. John Seybold, a tinsmith, died from a fall when he was putting tin on the roof of this house. Don and Monica Durkin finished off the attic for dormitory-sized bedrooms and used the basement floor with its brick floor as a pre-school. The new Methodist parsonage is at 625 Church Street.
The St. Paul congregation built their parsonage in 1869, and in his diary, Rev. Haas described the house that became his home for three years.
“Soon it was decided to build a parsonage since several lots had been purchased for that purpose. It consisted of two rooms, a kitchen and a cellar, and porch, and under the roof, there also was some space. True, it was a small house and yet, for the time and the small beginning, we did not forget the reason and the willing sacrifices of the people (from C. Haas’ diary)
A rock road ran in front of the home surrounded by shade and fruit trees and a fenced-in garden with grapevines. As there wasn’t any well nor cistern, the family used a neighbor’s water. St. Paul ministers and their families resided in this structure until 1925 when it was moved to Tenth and Maple where it faces east. John Altenbernd, son of Flora and Will Alterbernd, wrote on freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~alternbernd website:
“The old Eudora parsonage in which the Fred Stoerker lived was not torn down when the new one was built. It was sold and moved to what became Hiway 10. It was still there when I was a boy. It had been sold again and had become a beer hall.”
The later parsonage at 314 E. 8th Street dates to the 1920s and also has been a Bert Nash mental health satellite clinic in the 1990s and rental property.
Yet another Church Street house is the at 623 Church Street building and built in 1882 originally as one big room to be used as a gymnasium for the German social club called a “turnverein” or Turner Hall. After being used as school for several years, the vacant building was used by students across the street who put basketball goals at each end of the front balcony and played basketball inside when the weather was bad. They kept score on the walls. Several people subsequently owned the house for an average of two to three years. A great number of people also lived there as boarders after Mrs. William Getker, who bought it in 1914, remodeled the structure into a boarding house called “The Oaks.” During World War II, the family who owned the house lived downstairs. The upstairs consisted of wall-to-wall cots rented to men working at the Sunflower Ordnance Works plant. Mobile homes and tents for the workers filled the two lots to the north. When current owners remodeled, they found tongue-and-groove inner walls.
Several older houses in Eudora had stores in them at one time or another. Families lived in the back of the home or upstairs and used a front room for the store. The house at 619 Main Street Terrace used to be a store in Eudora’s earliest days. Its stone walls are a foot-thick, said house owner Sharon Harris, who lived in the house as a child.
The grocery at 710 Church Street operated for about 50 years. Owned by Charles Neustifter, the store was on the south side of the home. At one time the front part was a candy store that old-timers remember purchasing candy there as children. It was also a small grocery where boys could sell rabbits to the owner who then shipped the rabbit meat to Kansas City. Next door to the south, now a parking lot, was a house that Joe Erwin said his grandfather, Ben, purchased in 1938 and added a kitchen and bedroom to the house, which had two rooms upstairs, and two rooms downstairs. “The house was in pretty bad shape,” Erwin said, when he and his six siblings inherited it as his father “did not put much money in it.” When the Erwin siblings decided to sell the house, the Methodist Church bought it and razed the house. Erwin kept the front door, which is the same door as one on the north front door of 1021 Elm Street. Photographs of the home show a resemblance to the George Stadler house on Birch Street located directly east across the alley. Originally five rooms, the Stadler home had a filtered cistern that provided water.
The Nuttall family lived in the former Achning Grocery with its 24-foot square front room that had a huge, thick front door. The middle room was used as a dining room, and directly behind, the kitchen. On the north side of the kitchen a boxed-in stairway led to two large bedrooms. The Nuttalls levelled this house to build an L-shaped one in 1914 on the east side of Main Street just north of the railroad tracks and re-used the basement. The new house boasted two rose-patterned, etched glass doors. Similar to other early Eudora houses, it had enough land and outbuildings to house a milk cow, chickens, and pigs. The well water was excellent and a cistern provided extra water.
The 807 Elm Street house built in 1907 by John Miller, a livestock trader, was photographed for postcards, and was bought by the Wolf family who used the west side as its dentist office. The Jeffrey family took down the bric brack during a house repainting when it was found to be rotted, said Mrs. Jeffrey. James Hoover bought the property for use as an office in 2006.
Many houses continue to host home businesses, such as frame galleries (1221 Acorn); antique store (931 Locust); day care operations; crafts (e.g., the taxidermy studio at 1001 Elm Street), and service operations (e.g., 1312 Main, knife sharpening). The 1623 Elm Street Tudor house built by Tom and Alberta Pyle in 1975 has housed a Catholic Montessori school with an annual enrollment of up to 30 students in the expanded basement and back addition since 1986.
As Eudora has grown, several families have purchased small parcels of farm land to build custom homes. They continue in a long line of distinctive houses — the gracious Gabriel house at 923 E. 2300 Road with its double staircases; the tipi home of Frank and Kelly Miller north of Eudora in 1990; the 1,700 square foot stone home of William and Marsha Gordon perched on a picturesque setting by the Wakarusa River with its barn accessible on two levels built from the same Edgerton Road stone barn that provided stone for the house — from the smallest to largest, they are houses of which to be proud and to preserve.
Copyright 2013. Cindy Higgins. Where the Wakarusa Meets the Kaw: A History of Eudora, Kansas. Eudora, KS: Author.