Likely built in the 1870’s, this surprisingly small Second Empire style house definitely thinks big as it displays details more typical of a house five times its size. Built of native stone in the Kansas vernacular, the house has languished for years, appearing to receive some sporadic maintenance but never really showing significant signs of improvement.

The house appears to have just two rooms. No staircase is visible to connect with the second floor (which may simply be attic space as it appears to have only minimal potential headroom).

The structure’s contradictions make it intriguing: small but grand, refined yet crude. The details are fascinating and suggest that the house may have been built with the intent to expand it on each side, possibly in the same way that the house at Cottonwood Ranch evolved — with a perpendicular wing at each end of the central core. Let’s take a closer look.

The façade is undeniably imposing. The mansard roof seems too small for the house; it fails to fully cover the exterior walls and requires an additional shallow slope at the base to do so. I’ve seen this done before, but it is not common.

A two-paned transom allows the doorway to be consistent in height with the flanking windows. The door, with its two arched panels, is undoubtedly original.

An examination of the masonry below the pilasters supporting the segmental arches reveals two different techniques: The window at left shows plinths below the pilasters while those of the door and other window are supported by shallow corbels. Why?

I suspect that the original intent was to have the door at the left (note that the left window sill has been done in three sections while the window at right has a continuous sill). Perhaps a change was made after construction had begun and the door was centered instead.

The keystones each feature an acorn in bas-relief. Wavy glass in the window sash appears to be original. Note the chamfered corners of the pilasters flanking the window.

When viewed from either side, the more utilitarian masonry of the ends is evident. An original doorway is seen at left.

These quoins are purely ornamental and serve no structural purpose… another indication that the house may have been built with the intention of future expansion.

The view of the southwest corner reveals three different roofing materials and far less ornamental stone work. Note that the doorway has no transom and its head is lower than that of the windows. This may suggest that the opening was intended to be on the interior in the future. Image courtesy Google Street View.

The north wall shows indications that an addition had been attached at some time in the past, likely built of wood. The window and door openings appear to be original.

Bonus feature! To the left may be seen a small structure, presumably built as a gas station, which recently received a conscientious makeover which was surprisingly true to the original design, a mix of Mission and Spanish Eclectic influences.

This is how the former gas station appeared in 2014… quite a transformation! A later addition has been shed and original details have been reinstated. Very few buildings in the region receive such thoughtful attention. Image courtesy Google Street View.

An older Street View image shows a sidewalk leading to the suspected original door location.

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