History of Topeka, Kansas (Part 6)
From: History of Shawnee County, Kansas
and Representative Citizens.
Edited by James L. King, Topeka, Kansas
Richmond & Arnold Publishers
Chicago 1905

Public Institutions and Buildings.

Of the public buildings of Topeka, the State Capitol is the most extensive and conspicuous. The location is central, the grounds spacious and tastefully adorned with trees, shrubbery and flower gardens, through which are wide and well kept drives and walks. The lofty and graceful dome of the building, rising above all other spires and eminences within its radius, can be seen for many miles in either direction from the city, and forms an object from which local distances and directions are measured.


Two miles from the city, near the Kansas River, are the buildings of the Kansas Hospital for the Insane. This institution was located here in 1877, and the first of the buildings erected in 1878, the citizens of Topeka and Shawnee County donating the site of 80 acres, to which the State subsequently added other tracts by direct purchase. The hospital was opened to patients in 1879, under the superintendency of Dr. D. B. Eastman. Since that time the State has expended more than $800,000 in the erection of buildings and the purchase of additional land. The site now covers 360 acres, comprising farm divisions, pastures, orchards and one of the finest lawns in the State. More than 1,000 patients are accommodated in the group of brick and stone buildings, where every attention and comfort are provided. The general management is in the hands of the State Board of Control, appointed by the Governor. Dr. T. C. Biddle is the present superintendent, and has been unusually successful in managing the institution and maintaining its high standard of efficiency.


The State Industrial School for Boys is located about three miles north from the Capitol, on a tract of 160 acres, purchased for that purpose by the city of Topeka and the county of Shawnee, and donated to the State. Buildings were erected in 1880 and 1884, the first at a cost of $35,000 and the last at a cost of $43,000. The school was opened in 1881, with accommodations for too boys. Additional buildings have increased the capacity of the institution to 350, the total expenditures being about $200,000. Since the school was established more than 2,000 boys have had the benefit of its training and discipline. H. W. Charles is the present superintendent.


The United States Custom House and Post Office was commenced under a contract awarded in January, 1879, for basement and area walls, and was completed and occupied March I, 1884, the cost of the construction being $286,058.24. The first purchase of land on account of this building was made in September, 1878, when too feet of ground fronting on Kansas avenue at the northeast corner of Fifth avenue was secured for $20,000, one half of which was contributed by the citizens of Topeka. The first appropriation for structural work was obtained by Congressman Thomas Ryan. Additional land on the north was purchased in 1897 by the government for $25,000. Under act of Congress, passed in March, 1899, through the influence of Congressman Charles Curtis, an enlargement of the building was provided for at an expenditure of $85,000. At the same session of Congress another act was passed making a further provision for enlargement at a cost of $71,394.73. The entire cost of building, grounds, furnishings, elevator, tower clock and repairs has been about $550,000. White stone was used in the construction, and the building is one of the best in Kansas. It accommodates the Post Office, Pension Office, the United States Circuit and District courts, the United States Land Office and other Federal offices.

Postmasters. - Thomas J. Anderson was the first postmaster to occupy the new building. Previous to that the office had been located in store buildings in various parts of the city. In 1855 it was on Quincy street near Second, and later on the southeast corner of Kansas and Fifth avenues, directly across the street from its final location; in 1858 it was on the southeast corner of Kansas and Sixth avenues; in 1861-69 it occupied quarters at Nos. 147, 131 and 194 Kansas avenue, respectively, and at No. 104 East Sixth avenue - where it was burned out; in 1870 it was at No. 129 Kansas avenue, and again, in 1871, at No. 104 East Sixth avenue; in 1873 it was moved to the Crawford Opera House Block, in 1878 to No. 117 East Fifth avenue, and in 1880 to No. 136 Kansas avenue. The postmasters of Topeka and their terms of service are shown in the following list: Fry W. Giles, 1855-57; E. C. K. Garvey, 1857-58; Charles C. Kellam, 1858-61; Samuel Fletcher, 1861-69; Hiram W. Farnsworth, 1869-73; Henry King, 1873-81; Thomas J. Anderson, 1881-85; John Mileham, 1885-89; James L. King, 1889-93; Frank S. Thomas, 1893; Andrew J. Arnold, 1893-97; John Guthrie, 1897-05.


A building in which the citizens of Topeka take great pride is the new City Hall and Auditorium, built in 1900 at a cost of $102,000. It is located on Quincy street, occupying a frontage of 300 feet between Seventh and Eighth streets. The City Hall and Fire Department are on the Seventh street corner, and the Auditorium connects on the south. In the Auditorium are held all the conventions that select Topeka as their meeting place, as well as all of the large local gatherings, lectures and concerts. For many years the city officers occupied leased quarters, generally the second floor of a store building, but in 1878 a City Hall was erected at the southwest corner of Kansas avenue and Seventh street, and the city became a landlord instead of a lessee, as the City Hall project included two business rooms on the first floor, which were readily rented at $1,000 each per annum. The total cost Of the building and site was $38,000, and it was subsequently disposed of to the Knights and Ladies of Security for $40,000. The basement of the building was fitted up as a city prison, but this plan was abandoned after three years trial and a new prison built at the northeast corner of Fifth and Jackson streets.


In 1881 the Union Pacific and Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad companies joined in providing funds for the construction of the Topeka Free Public Library Building, stipulating that the location should be upon the block of ground known as Capitol Square. Permission was obtained from the Legislature to locate the library upon the State grounds, using a space 200 feet square in the northeast corner of the square. The two railroad companies contributed $12,500 each for the library, which was built in 1882, the total cost being $44,000, the excess above $25,000 being loaned to the Library Association by prominent citizens who were friendly to the enterprise. Direct contributions, in various sums and for various purposes, have been made by James D. Burr, C. W. Potwin and John R. Mulvane, of Topeka; C. C. Wheeler of Chicago, the late Barney Lantry of Cottonwood and, others. The negotiations for the railroad donation were conducted by Edward Wilder, who has been president of the association since 1875. Mr. Wilder has also been a generous contributor to the artistic collections of the library, and has given time, money, labor, ability, patience and zeal to the upbuilding of all its departments.

Founders of the Library. - Topeka's Free Public Library was founded by the Ladies' Library Association, which was organized November 12, 1878, with the following members: Mesdames Daniel M. Adams, Floyd P. Baker, W. S. Baker, Marcus Bosworth, E. B. Clarkson, Clara M. Crane, William Carpenter, George W. Crane, E. Chrisman, James Douglas, W. P. Douthitt, Esther F. Ekin, Hiram W. Farnsworth, John W. Farnsworth, George Geiger, Fry W. Giles, A. J. Huntoon, Benjamin Haywood, L. M. Higgins, C. H. Hayes, Joel Huntoon, Thomas L. King, Maria L. King, Ella King, Charles C. Kellam, S. S. Lawrence, F. A. Lighter, T. F. Leidigh, Thomas B. Mills, L. H. Merrill„ S. D. MacDonald, Noah C. McFarland, Francis S. McCabe, H. C. Price, C. Reed, L. A. Rudisill, W. S. Rankin, H. A. Rain, Thomas Ryan, Irene A. Safford, Emma Swallow, James M. Spencer, Ann Eliza Sheldon, M. V. Snyder, O. P. Smith, Mary C. Todd, J. B. Thompson, E. W. Tweeddale, Shipman Thompson, E. O. Taylor, James Veale, Edward Wilder, M. E. Whitton, George Work, W. E. Webb, A. P. Wilder, S. Walley, Margaret Walker, M. A. Winchip, Orrin T. Welch, and Misses Anna Ekin, Mary Johnson, Jennie Kimber, Sarah Webb, Sara Petit, Sarah G. Wright, Nancy Smith, Harriet J. Wetmore and Fannie Woodard.

The library now contains 20,000 volumes, with a circulation of 80,000 books a year. Mrs. Evelyn S. Lewis is librarian. The board of directors is composed of John R. Mulvane, J. L. Shellabarger, J. P. Davis, C. F. Menninger, Eugene F. Ware, Charles S. Bleed, N. F. Handy, Harold T. Chase, M. A. Low, T. F. Garver, E. B. Merriam, Charles J. Devlin and Edward Wilder. The law under which the library was located provides that the Governor of the State, the Chief Justice, the Speaker of the House and the mayor of the city shall be, es officio directors.


The Topeka Provident Association, the leading charitable organization of the city, recently came into possession of a permanent home through the generosity of Norris L. Gage; of Ashtabula, Ohio, who purchased and deeded to the association a two story brick block at the northwest corner of Fourth and Jackson streets. Mr. Gage's contribution was $6,000 and an additional $6,000 has been spent in improvements. The building contains an ample number of rooms to accommodate the many different departments of the association. The Provident organization has charge of the systematic charitable work of Topeka. The departments include general relief, medical aid, employment, the boys' club, the girls' sewing club, mothers' club, nursery and kindergarten. Officers of the institution are: J. E. Nissley, president; Thomas Page, vice president; Rev. O. S. Morrow, secretary; William Macferran, treasurer; Dr. C. B. Van Horn, general secretary and physician in charge.


The Topeka Orphans' Home, an organization chartered in 1889, owns a substantial building at the northeast corner of Third and Fillmore streets. Beneficiaries of the home are orphans and friendless and destitute children. It has cared for 1,500 children, an average of too a year, since its organization. It is supported by the city and county, and receives a small annual appropriation from the State. The value of the property is $7,000. Mrs. J. F. Daniels is president; Mrs. M. J. Hunter and Mrs. C. E. Hawley, vice presidents; Mrs. L. S. Wolverton, recording secretary; Mrs. M. E. Stewart, corresponding secretary; Mrs. William H. Davis, treasurer; and Dr. C. Hammond, house physician.


Ingleside, a home for aged women, is located at the corner of Huntoon and Tyler streets. It was established in 1886, and a building erected through the efforts of the public spirited women of Topeka. In the year 1902 an additional building was constructed, the expense of which was borne by Jonathan Thomas. The buildings are of great architectural beauty, and the interior appointments of the most cheerful and convenient character. Many of the venerable women who make Ingleside their home are contributors to its support, and others are cared for from the revenues of the association, to which the citizens of Topeka are liberal subscribers. The officers of the association are: Mrs. Jonathan Thomas, president; Mrs. Joab Mulvane, 1st vice president; Mrs. M. A. Low, 2nd vice president; Mrs. M. C. Hammatt, secretary; Mrs. George F. Penfield, treasurer; Mrs. Margaret Dowding, matron.


There are six hospitals in the city, having a total capacity of 500. The largest is the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Hospital, Sixth avenue and Jefferson street, occupying to acres of ground. The building cost $125,000, and is in charge of Dr. J. P. Kaster, chief surgeon. It was built for the special care of employees of the railroad company, and accommodates 100 patients.

Christ's Hospital occupies a tract of 14 acres of ground in the western part of the city, and was founded by the late Bishop Thomas H. Vail, of the Kansas Diocese of the Protetstant Episcopal Church, in 1882, although the charter provides that the hospital shall be in no sense sectarian. Buildings were erected in 1883 and 1884, at a cost of $25,000, of which Bishop Vail contributed $7,000, and Mrs. Ellen S. Bowman Vail, $5,000. Bishop and Mrs. Vail obtained the additional $13,000 from friends living in Topeka and elsewhere. Through their instrumentality, and the help of the church, an endowment fund of $25,000 was also provided. Through donations from other sources the hospital was subsequently enlarged, and now accommodates too patients. Bishop Frank R. Millspaugh is the president of the hospital; Rev. James P. de Beavers Kaye, vice president, and J. G. Slonecker, Jonathan Thomas, Charles S. Gleed and August Zahner, directors.

In the year 1895 Mrs. Jane C. Stormont made a contribution for the founding of The Jane C. Stormont Hospital and a fine brick building was constructed at No. 332 Greenwood avenue, Potwin Place. It is managed by a board of trustees and a staff of physicians: Jonathan Thomas, president; Dr. Lewis Y. Grubbs, vice president; Frank G. Willard, secretary; Dr. Clarence A. McGuire, treasurer; Charles J. Devlin, additional trustee. Officers of staff: Dr. Lewis Y. Grubbs, president; Dr. George W. Hogeboom, vice president; Dr. L. M. Powell, secretary; Dr. L. H. Munn, treasurer; Catherine Strayer, superintendent. In 1889 Mrs. Guilford G. Gage built an addition to the hospital, known as the Gage Annex, at a cost of $15,000. There are accommodations for 50 patients, and 2,000 have been cared for within the past 10 years. In connection with the hospital a training school for nurses is conducted. The whole property is valued at $4o,000.

Other hospitals in the city are the Detention Hospital (an annex to the city prison), built by Rev. Charles M. Sheldon in 1901; Keith's Hospital, a private institution, at No. 603 Clay street; and Bedwell Asylum, a private hospital for insane patients, on East Sixth avenue.


Museum Hall, in the old Ritchie Block, on the southeast corner of Kansas and Sixth avenues, was the scene of the first public dramatic performance in Topeka, in 1858, and hence may be taken as the beginning of the city's places of amusement. Museum Hall was afterwards known as Wilmarth's Hall. Prior to the above date, King Smith's Hall, at No. 104 Sixth avenue east, was used for lyceums, conventions and religious meetings, but it never aspired to the dignity of a playhouse. The first regular theater, with curtain and stage, was known as Union Hall, occupying the second floor of the Shorb, Tinker & Baker Block, built in 1869, at Nos. 619 and 621 Kansas avenue. A stairway ran almost directly into the main part of the auditorium, the opening being railed off from the seats. the stage was 25 feet wide and 20 feet deep, with wings, flats and sky borders of a crude pattern. Prof. Henry Worrall painted the drop curtain - a Topeka street scene in lurid colors, with a border filled with advertising cards. Across the top of the curtain a Union Pacific train was shown at full speed. In one corner was a portrait of Chief Burnett, of the Pottawatomies, and in the opposite corner the picture of "Kaw Charley," ringing a bell. "Kaw Charlie" was a half breed Indian, a well known character of that day. Some of the early performances on the stage of Union Hall were given by Charles W. Couldock and daughter, Duprez & Benedict's minstrels, the Louise Sylvester company, and the "As You Like It" Club of Topeka.

In 1870 Lorenzo Costa built the first opera house, known as Costa's Opera House, at Nos. 612 and 614 Kansas avenue. It was opened January 12, 1871. In 1880 the property was purchased by Lester M. Crawford who reconstructed the interior, and opened it September 3rd of that year, as Crawford's Opera House. It has remained under his management since that time, being a part of the Crawford circuit of theatrical enterprises, which embraces many of the principal theaters in the West, and includes two of the leading theaters in St. Louis. Crawford's Opera House was destroyed by fire December 2, 1880, and rebuilt in 1881.

A corporation was organized in 1881 for the construction of the Grand Opera House, the most pretentious amusement enterprise ever undertaken in Topeka. The Grand was built on lots Nos. 193, 195 and 197, Jackson street, at a cost of $40,000, and opened in September, 1882, with. the Emma Abbott opera company as the attraction. It was operated under various managers for a period of 12 years, with a limited financial success, and finally passed into the hands of the Crawford syndicate, and has been closed for the past five years. When in actual running order it was a model playhouse, with a stage 60 by 60 feet, a splendid equipment and a seating capacity of 1,500.


When Horace Greeley visited Kansas in 1859, he wrote a series of letters to the New York Tribune, giving his impressions of the country and its characteristics. On the subject of hotels his impressions were jotted down in this manner: "May 23rd - Leavenworth - Room bells and baths make their last appearance; May 24th - Topeka - Breakfast and wash bowls (other than tin) last visible - barber ditto; May 26th - Manhattan - Potatoes and eggs last recognized among the blessings that brighten as they take their flight; May 27th - Junction City - Last visitation of a boot black, with dissolving views of a broad bed room - Chairs bid us good bye; May 28th - Pipe Creek - Benches for seats at meals have disappeared, giving place to bags and boxes - We write our letters in the express wagon that has borne us by day, and must supply us lodgings for the night."

If the shade of the great journalist could come West at this time, it would be rejoiced to find modern hotels and all the comforts of civilization - telephones instead of room bells, marble lavatories instead of tin wash bowls, and every known variety of breakfast food to supplement the matutinal potatoes and eggs.

Topeka's hotels began with the Pioneer House, built of poles and rough lumber, in June, 1855, by Mitchell & Zimmerman, on the southeast corner of Kansas avenue and Third street. It was conducted by Enoch Chase, and for a short time by Guilford Dudley. In 1856 Walter C. Oakley built the Topeka House, at the northeast corner of Kansas and Fifth avenues - a two story, frame building with a fiat roof, which was subsequently enlarged to three stories, with a shingle roof. It stood until 1870, when it was destroyed by fire. The building constructed in September, 1855, on the southeast corner of Kansas and Fifth avenues, where the first newspaper in Topeka had its home, was also used in part as a hotel, under the name of the Garvey House. Enoch Chase built the Chase House, in the autumn of 1856, on the south side of Sixth avenue, near the corner of Kansas avenue, afterwards known as the Capitol House.

Other early enterprises were the Curtis House, North Topeka; the Quincy House, on the east side of Quincy street, between Fifth and Sixth avenues; the Ashbaugh House, at No. 205 West Sixth avenue; the Farmers' Hotel, at the southeast corner of Kansas and Fifth avenues; the Carney House, on the southwest corner of Fifth avenue and Jackson street; and the Parks House, opposite the Union Pacific Depot, in North Topeka.


The Gordon House, on the northeast corner of Kansas avenue and Fifth street, built and conducted by J. C. Gordon, was one of the most popular of the early Topeka hostelries, and held its position as the leading hotel for many years. It was rebuilt in 1877, and sold in 1881 to Dr. J. J. Burtis, of Davenport, Iowa. Dr. Burtis sold it to H. P. Throop, who remodeled it throughout at an expense of $80,000, and changed its name to the Throop Hotel, by which it is now known. It is one of the finest buildings on Kansas avenue, and its cost seriously impaired the fortune Mr. Throop had accumulated. The property was sold in 1901 to J. J. O'Rourke, and is now under the management of the Hamilton Hotel Company, composed of C. B. Hamilton, James L. Brooks and Harry H. Hamilton.

After disposing of the Gordon House, J. C. Gordon built a new hotel on the southeast corner of Kansas avenue and Ninth street, called the Copeland Hotel. It is a four story building, with a spacious annex, and has been in successful operation since 1883, the date of its construction. The Copeland is located near the State Capitol and has long been a sort of headquarters for politicians, especially those of the Republican faith, and this fact led a newspaper correspondent, Ferd L. Vandegrift, to give it the popular designation of "Copeland County," by which it is familiarly known. Many of the State officers, who are temporarily located in Topeka, make their home at the Copeland. James Chappelle is the present proprietor of the hotel.

When the Populists came into power in Kansas, their Topeka gathering place was at the Dutton House, a small hotel at No. 407 Kansas avenue, now managed by A. T Pigg. The name was recently changed to the Savoy, and the building is being added to on the north by the reconstruction of the old County Court House. The Savoy no longer claims any special political clientele, but appeals to the general public and has a liberal patronage.

The Fifth Avenue Hotel was constructed in 1870, and was at that time the most modern hotel, as well as the handsomest from an architectural standpoint, in the city. J. B. Fluno and the firm of Hankla Brothers were among the early managers, and T. J. Hankla is the present manager. The most noted event connected with the history of the Fifth Avenue Hotel was the entertainment on January 22, 1872, of the Grand Duke of Russia and his party who were just returning from a buffalo hunt in Western Kansas. The party included Grand Duke Alexis, Vice Admiral Poissiett, Lieutenant Tuder and Lieutenant Stortdegraff, of the imperial navy; Chancellor of State W. T. Machin, Consul General Brodisco, Count Olsenfieff and Secretary Shuveloff. The American wing of the party was made up of Gen. Phil. H. Sheridan, Gen. George A. Custer and Colonels G. A. Forsythe, M. V. Sheridan and N. B. Sweetzer. The Kansas Legislature gave a reception and banquet at the Fifth Avenue Hotel in honor of the visitors.


The most famous hotel in Topeka was known as the Tefft House; situated on the northwest corner of Kansas avenue and Seventh street. It was a modest building at first, occupying a single lot on the corner, which was bought in 1859 by Dr. Erasmus Tefft for the sum of $300. It was an isolated location, far above the center of business, but is now the most central business corner in Topeka. Dr. Tefft erected the original building in 1860, - a stone structure, 17 by 25 feet, and two stories in height. In 1865 he added the lot on the north at an expense of $700, and made the hotel into a three story building, 50 by 60 feet in dimensions. Two years later an addition was constructed in the rear of the original buildings, 95 by 35 feet in dimensions, four stories in height, with a mansard roof. In 1868 the front part was also increased to four stories. The building was leased in 1866 to James Harris and John Beasley. Harris sold his interest to J. A. Burr, and the firm become Burr & Beasley. It was leased in 1867 to Henry D. McMeekin, an old and popular citizen of Kansas, under whose management it was again enlarged, and became the political and legislative headquarters of the State - a position it retained up to the time of the opening of the Copeland Hotel.

Some of the most celebrated senatorial elections in Kansas were planned and practically consummated in the so called "dark and fitful recesses of the Tefft House." In the period between 1867 and 1880 it entertained all of the public men of Kansas and was the scene of many brilliant social functions. McMeekin retired from the management in 1871, but returned in 1875, with Samuel Hindman as his partner, the business in the meantime having been conducted by E. A. Smith and Williams & Babcock. J. W. Hartzell became associated with McMeekin in 1876, and in 1878 the building was bought from Dr. Tefft by Dr. J. J. Burtis for $24,000. Three years later Burtis sold to Allen Sells for $25,000. After undergoing extensive repairs, it was leased to Hankla Brothers and opened as the Windsor Hotel. In later years the managers were C. M. Hill & Company, Passmore & Wiggin, Odell & Forward and W. W. Smith. The entire property was bought in 1889 by the First National Bank of Topeka, and the building reconstructed into its present form, the bank occupying the scorner room on the main floor, and the rest of the building being devoted to hotel purposes, under the name of the National Hotel. The National was opened in 1890 by Hankla Brothers, and a few years later passed into the hands of Manager Charles L. Wood, who is now at the helm.


The beautiful sloping ground directly west from the city was set apart in 1859 by Dr. Franklin L. Crane for the purposes of a cemetery, and the general arrangement of the grounds remains as he planned it 45 years ago. The first burial in the new cemetery was of Mrs. Marcia Gordon, who died about December 20, 1859. Since that time it has afforded a resting place for nearly 11,000 deceased persons. Soon after coming to Topeka, Dr. Crane settled upon this tract of land, and built a small house on the west side of the tract. In Topeka's infancy there was considerable difficulty experienced in obtaining a proper place for the interment of the dead, and interments were first made at the southeast corner of Kansas and loth avenues. By an arrangement with the Topeka Town Association, Dr. Crane set apart his original claim to meet this contingency, and took up other land near the city for his personal homestead. The interments made at Kansas and roth avenues were removed to the new cemetery in 1860. Officers of the Topeka Cemetery Association are: A. B. Quinton, president; George W. Crane, secretary, and D. O. Crane, superintendent and treasurer.

The other cemeteries near Topeka are the following: Catholic Cemetery, on loth avenue road, three miles west; Foster Cemetery, on Burlingame road, three miles southwest; Jewish Cemetery, on East loth avenue, adjoining Topeka Cemetery; Ritchie Cemetery, directly south from the city; Mount Hope Cemetery, on Sixth avenue, four miles west; and Rochester Cemetery, two miles Northwest from North Topeka.

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