Shawnee Co. Historic Homes Tour offers glimpse into the past

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Published: Oct. 11, 2022 at 11:43 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Shawnee County Historical Society is holding its annual Historic Homes Tour this weekend.

The tour is the group’s major fundraising event each year. It is being held October 16th from 1 to 6 p.m. and tickets are $75.

There are six buildings on the tour including, the Curtis House, the Crosby Mansion, the Mirror Houses, and the Beacon, all of which are located along SW Topeka Boulevard.

The first home at 1101 SW Topeka Boulevard was built in 1879 for then Topeka mayor Wilson. It is an eclectic Italianate brick home with 4,468 square feet, “horse carriage” covered entry, expansive front porch with two east entrances, 4 fireplaces, and a galvanized roof. The building is famous as “the Curtis home” in honor of Charles Curtis, a U.S. Senator from Kansas and elected Vice President with Herbert Hoover from 1929-1933. Curtis lived in the home from1903 until his death in 1936. It has been placed on the national and state historic registers.

The next home on the tour is 1109 SW Topeka Boulevard built in 1910 for William Crosby. He and his wife lived there until 1922 and it is now occupied by the Immanuel Birthing Center managed by midwife Jodi Blair. The home is a three-story 5,600 square foot hard-fired yellow brick home with limestone lintels and trim, a wide brick veranda across the front with a red tile floor and original tin ceiling and white pillars supporting the veranda, with dormers peaking out of the red tile roof. A curved triple window with matching circular wooden benches grace the front entry. It has hardwood floors throughout with dark walnut trim and multiple decorative leaded glass windows and original light fixtures on the first and second floor. The first floor also has an ornate fireplace of green tile. Central air has been added to the home to increase its functionality while keeping its historic glory.

The third and fourth buildings are at 917 and 921 SW Topeka Boulevard and are known as the Mirror Houses. The two homes were built in 1879 and got their name from being almost exact duplicates except the rooms and entrance being located on the North of one, and the South of the other. At one time both homes had large front and back porches, although the front porches have been removed. Both had ornate hand-carved door frames and stairways. In 2011 both homes were later joined with a glass atrium between them, but much of the original brick walls and woodwork from 1879 remain.

The next, at 424 SW Topeka Boulevard, is now used as attorney law offices. Lumber merchant, Charles Horn, built the three-story brick home from 1905 to 1910. With a tile front porch, elaborate woodwork and stairways, green glazed tile fireplaces with mirrored mantles, and beveled and leaded glass windows, the house reflects the opulence of the era. It also has a covered porch entrance for horseless carriages. A garage was added on the east side of the house in the 1920′s. It was modified in 1975 for law offices.

The final building on the tour is the Beacon at 420 SW 9th Street. It was built in 1924 and includes a theater, ballroom, dining room that formerly served the women’s club of Topeka and the Kansas insurance commission’s office. The building features Tiffany stained glass windows, ornate gold details, and decorative leaded and stained glass windows.

To purchase tickets for the tour, send a check to PO Box 2201 Topeka, KS 66601. Those interested can also call Bob Totten at 785-234-6097 or email at