Historic North Topeka
William Curtis (grandfather of Charles Curtis, who was born in North Topeka and went on to become Vice President of the United States under Hoover) and Louis Laurent laid out a town in 1865 that they called Eugene (possibly after a place in Indiana). Less than a year later--on New Years' Day, what is now North Topeka welcomed the first train (Union Pacific) to town. The advent of the railroad assured that this area would for much of the 19th century be the industrial heart of the Kansas capital (excluding, of course, the mammoth AT&SF Shops across the river).
In April, 1867, southside Topeka annexed Eugene, the first such city expansion. At the time more evenly matched in population and economy, north and south played a tug-of-war for industry and commerce the remainder of the 1800s. In 1903, North Topeka suffered the devastating effects of a major flood. However, many fine buildings dating from that period remain, and when restored, will make North Topeka a showplace of Victorian-era commercial and residential architecture.
While many notable North Topeka historic structures (including Curtis School) exist north of Morse Street, only those south of Morse Street are included here because of space limitations.
ARCHITECTURAL STYLES FOUND IN NORTH TOPEKA
Italianate - decorative brackets under eaves; tall, narrow windows
Queen Anne - steep roof, decorative mixture of shapes and textures
Folk Victorian - simplified Queen Anne or Eastlake details
Gothic Revival - sharply pointed gables
Carpenter Gothic - Folk Victorian style with decorative woodwork detailing
Homestead - 1.5 or 2.5 story rectangle with porch and front-gabled roof
Foursquare - usually 4 rooms on each floor; similar to 2.5 story Homestead
SUGGESTED TOUR ROUTE:
Head north up N. KANSAS AVENUE from Train Station
Union Pacific Station, Railroad Street and N. Kansas Ave. (1927) Neo-classical station by Los Angeles firm of Gilbert S. Underwood; spectacular interior typical of grand stations of early 20th century. Over the years many dignitaries passed through; June 1945, Gen. Eisenhower stopped here on way to Abilene; was one of most photographed of Union Pacific's mid-sized stations. Not only North Topeka symbol, one of ten most important Topeka landmarks. Currently being restored; visit www.greatoverlandstation.com for more information. (illustration courtesy www.greatoverlandstation.com)
800 N. Kansas, Heywood Building (c. 1900). Unique corner entrance with polished granite column, a trait typical in small bank buildings. Was home of Shawnee State Bank 1902-26.
816 N. Kansas, Nystrom Brothers (1886). Commercial 2-story building with brick cornice.
822 N. Kansas, T.M. James Building (c. 1888). Important 19th century commercial building, served as post office, later a cigar factory; one of best such buildings in Topeka with decorative cornice.
824 N. Kansas, Commercial Building (c. 1890). Highlights: Decorative lintels and cornice.
826 N. Kansas, Commercial Building (c. 1890). Cast-iron columns; part of very good row of 19th century commercial architecture.
831 N. Kansas, Commercial Building (c. 1890). Note decorative brickwork on cornice.
837 N. Kansas, Commercial Building (1880). Odd Fellows building.
838 N. Kansas, Princess Theater (c. 1910). Early North Topeka theatre with decorative stone lintel.
844 N. Kansas, Kaw Valley State Bank (c. 1920). Handsome brick building with stone front.
845 N. Kansas, Former Shawnee State Bank (1926). Small, handsome neo-classical building notable for range of pilasters.
900 N. Kansas, Commercial Building (c. 1900). 3-story commercial brick building with same design as 907 and 909 N. Kansas.
903 and 905 N. Kansas, Commercial Building (c. 1880s). Note interesting tin cornice.
907 and 909 N. Kansas, Commercial Building (c. 1900). Note decorative half circles over windows.
911 N. Kansas, Commercial Building (1910). Nice brick detail.
Old Post Office (c. 1920). Georgian Revival style; exquisite detailing in arches above windows; fine glass in fanlight (window) over entry.
1000-1006 N. Kansas, Commercial Buildings (c. 1900). Attractive row of brick storefronts, one with cast-iron columns; stone details on corner bldg.
1029 N. Kansas, Methodist Church (c. 1920s). Attractive brick church with Gothic style tower; also note brick corbeling on facade.
1035 Central Ave (c. 1905). Craftsman house with Gambrel roof.
1033 Central Ave (c. 1890). Folk Victorian house with small bay window.
Head south down N. MONROE STREET from Morse St.
1124 N. Monroe (c. 1890). Folk Victorian.
1121 N. Monroe (pre-1900). Carpenter Gothic.
1120 N. Monroe (pre-1900). Folk Victorian cottage.
1119 N. Monroe (pre-1900). Italianate with original columns and porch brackets.
1113 N. Monroe (pre-1900). Italianate with original brackets, porch and nice bay window.
1110 N. Monroe (c. 1890). Folk Victorian.
1028 N. Monroe (c. 1890). Folk Victorian.
1010 N. Monroe (c. 1890). Folk Victorian.
914 N. Monroe (c. 1880). Folk Victorian.
226 E. Laurent (1880s). Queen Anne.
217 E. Laurent (1880s or earlier). Folk Victorian, "I-plan" type house.
800-808 N. Monroe (pre-1880). Identical Folk Victorian houses.
Mid-Continent Mills Complex (c. 1890s). Helped establish Topeka as one of leading mill centers of the Mid-West.
Head north up N. MADISON STREET from Laurent St.
844 N. Madison, Industrial Building (c. 1900). Note segmental arched windows; likely was Topeka Packing Company in 1929.
916 N. Madison (late 1800s). Folk Victorian.
926 N. Madison (c. 1880). Folk Victorian house with I-plan and Gothic Revival features.
1024 N. Madison (c. 1895). Small house typical of the "shotgun" variety -- long and very narrow (one room wide, several rooms deep).
1027 N. Madison (c. 1900). Folk Victorian or shotgun type notable for its porches.
Head south down N. QUINCY STREET from Morse St.
1024 N. Quincy (c. 1895). Queen Anne / Folk Victorian with original porch.
1016 N. Quincy (pre-1900). Italianate.
Firestation #1, 934 N. Quincy (1940). Italian Renaissance type structure.
910 N. Quincy (c. 1910). Foursquare house.
Head north up N. JACKSON STREET from Norris St.
822 N. Jackson (c. 1890). Queen Anne, it has its original porch.
823 N. Jackson (c. 1890). Queen Anne; in 1907 this was the home of William H. Thomas, a conductor.
824 N. Jackson (c. 1890). Queen Anne.
825 N. Jackson (c. 1890). Queen Anne; in 1929 this was the home of Collins A. Zimmerman, an engineer for the Union Pacific Railroad.
829 N. Jackson (pre-1890). Folk Victorian with Carpenter Gothic elements.
833 N. Jackson (c. 1895). Queen Anne, it retains its original porch columns and would be an excellent candidate for restoration.
115 W. Laurent, Former Forbes Milling Company Office (c. 1887). William Forbes built this for his milling company (flour mills were once important part of North Topeka economy).
900 N. Jackson, Commercial Building (c. 1930). Unusual stucco structure with short "towers" at corners; In 1935 was mortuary for Frank Conwell.
909 N. Jackson (c. 1890). Queen Anne.
916 N. Jackson (1880s). Folk Victorian with tower.
917 N. Jackson (c. 1890). Folk Victorian style house, it retains its original spindle-type porch columns.
924 N. Jackson (1880s). Folk Victorian.
123 NW Gordon, North Topeka Baptist Church (1921). Charming Greek temple church with columned portico, a North Topeka landmark.
200 NW Gordon, Former Second Presbyterian Church (1905). Modest, very attractive brick Gothic church; upper tower and steeple have subsequently been removed; note stained glass windows.
1011 N. Jackson (c. 1910). Homestead style house.
1012 N. Jackson (c. 1890). Queen Anne.
1019 N. Jackson (c. 1880). Brick Folk Victorian or Gothic Revival.
1024-26 N. Jackson (pre-1880). Brick Italianate flats or apartments (duplex); arched windows, bracketed cornice, and bays give this early structure character.
Note: The 1100 block of Jackson is one of the most interesting in North Topeka (brick paving, stone curbing, etc.) and could serve as the centerpiece of a revitalized North Topeka.
1107 N. Jackson (c. 1890). Folk Victorian.
1110 N. Jackson, Nystrom Residence (c. 1880). Italianate with tower (giving it a 2nd Empire look), the bracketed cornice and diagonal siding make it a North Topeka landmark; the porch presumably dates from early 1900s. Home of Eric Nystrom in 1929 -- possibly related to the "Nystrom Brothers" and building at 816 N. Kansas Avenue.
1117 N. Jackson, Salyer Residence (c. 1895). Queen Anne similar to 1125 N. Jackson with round turret, etc., but notable for its leaded glass windows; Benjamin A. Salyer owned the Salyer Produce Company of 126 Kansas Ave.
1122 N. Jackson (c. 1900). Colonial Revival type as designated by its gambrel roof, also notable for Palladian window in front gable and stair oriel on the north -- porch has been modified (it could be beautifully restored); John J. King resided here in 1929, J.J. King Agency in real estate, rentals, farm loans, etc.
1123 N. Jackson (1890s). Queen Anne with modified porch.
1125 N. Jackson (c. 1895). Queen Anne notable for its round 2-story turret; in 1929 the home of O.C. Myers, a clerk in the U.S. Post Office.
1126 N. Jackson (c. 1905). Homestead style, 1-1/2 story.
1129 N. Jackson, Knoll Residence (c. 1895). Queen Anne style; J.J. Knoll of Knoll Battery & Supply lived here in 1929 -- in 1907 he was listed as a barber.
Head south down N. VAN BUREN STREET from Morse St.
1131 N. Van Buren (c. 1890). Folk Victorian House, site notable for its retaining wall, possibly concrete to look like stone.
1123 N. Van Buren (c. 1890). Folk Victorian house.
1117 N. Van Buren (c. 1890). Queen Anne notable for sunburst design in gables.
1008 N. Van Buren (pre-1890). Brick Folk Victorian house.
214 W. Gordon (pre-1880). Brick Gothic Revival house.
931 N. Van Buren (c. 1890). Quasi-Italianate.
927 N. Van Buren (c. 1887). Brick Queen Anne; though modified, especially the porch and elsewhere on the ground level, it retains considerable architectural character and detail including brackets at cornice and several bays. When restored, it will be a North Topeka landmark.
924 N. Van Buren (c. 1890). Folk Victorian cottage.
915 N. Van Buren (c. 1895). Large, stately Queen Anne.
835 N. Van Buren, Asbury Methodist Church (1880s). Simple stone church built over a period of years by different congregations, later established as a black church by exodusters residing in North Topeka.
Head north up N. HARRISON STREET from Norris St.
801 N. Harrison, St. Mark's AME Church (1920). Hall-type church with short side tower; brick with stone foundation. Round arch windows and entry, plus "rose window".
815 N. Harrison (1870s). Handsome, brick Italianate apparently not being used but could be renovated; good architectural contrast with its neighbor to the north.
837 N. Harrison (pre-1880). Brick Folk Victorian house which also could be termed Gothic Revival due to steep gables. It has been renovated into the Head Start Community building.
320 W. Laurent, Former Pilgrim Baptist Church (c. 1871). Fine example of adaptive re-use of a historic structure; oldest church in Topeka.
424 W. Laurent, Second Baptist Church (c.1920). Pointed, or Gothic, windows plus short tower topped with pyramid roof; a North Topeka black congregation.
1028 N. Harrison (pre-1880). Brick Folk Victorian cottage with segmental arches over windows; many such North Topeka houses could date from the 1870s (1880s at the latest).
1132 N. Harrison, Chaney-Segar Residence (c. 1889). Major North Topeka Queen Anne house, brick, with decorative spindle columns (Eastlake style) on porch; excellent Victorian interior.
Cross N. Topeka Avenue to EUGENE STREET
1035 Eugene (pre-1890). Handsome Stone Vernacular or stone Folk Victorian.
Cross back over N. Topeka Avenue to W. FAIRCHILD STREET
511 W. Fairchild (pre-1890). Folk Victorian house with Carpenter Gothic features including original porch gingerbread detail.
507 W. Fairchild (c. 1890). Queen Anne with decorated gable, modified porch; it could be renovated into an attractive Victorian.
417 W. Fairchild (c. 1880). Folk Victorian.
416 W. Fairchild (pre-1880). Folk Victorian.
414 W. Fairchild (pre-1880). Brick Folk Victorian or Gothic Revival, as determined by the steeply pitched roof.
413 W. Fairchild (c. 1880). Italianate.
Tour map published jointly by Downtown Topeka, Inc. and Shawnee County Historical Society.
researched & written by Douglass W. Wallace; assisted by Michael Stringer; compiled by Martin Jones; design/layout by Max Movsovitz (part of a series of publications on the historic neighborhoods and sites of Topeka published by Historic Topeka, Inc.) Union Pacific Station illustration courtesy of Carol Yoho; Church illustration by Mike Henry from Historic Topeka: A Sketchbook to Color, (American Heritage of Topeka, 1981).
Shawnee County Historical Society,
P.O. Box 2201, Topeka, KS 66601-2201