Today’s observations were made in north-central Kansas, an area distinguished by structures built of native limestone. The region is known locally as “post rock country” because of the numerous stone fence posts created by early settlers. The use of stone for both posts and building material was common in the late nineteenth century when trees and lumber yards were both scarce. The area’s early settlers took full advantage of the abundant limestone and, despite numerous tragic losses, many of the structures they built still remain.
Fence posts made of local limestone are still common in the region. This span has been supplemented with steel “T” posts. Image source: www.bobandlois.net
A small but nicely detailed example of the Second Empire style awaits restoration. The house likely dates to around 1880.
Use of post rock had faded by the 1920’s as other building materials became both accessible and more cost-effective. By the 1930’s, however, the stone’s use experienced a revival. This bank building dates to around 1950; a more recent addition is to the left.
Detail of bank facade showing the multi-hued stone chosen for dramatic effect.
This late nineteenth-century barn will only be able to stand so long without a roof. The top of the gable at left has already fallen.
Detail of the barn’s quoins which have been dressed with diagonal patterning.
Native stone takes on a moderne appearance on this 1930’s municipal building.
Stone on this 1880’s storefront has been dressed with what appears to perhaps be an effort to emulate vermiculation. Most of the graffiti appears quite old.
Side-by-side windows in the same building have playfully different crown designs.
A cast iron storefront post of the type commonly used in conjunction with limestone construction.
Sidewall of a commercial building showing original window sashes and more than a century of weathering.
Carved detail of stone flanking steps which once led to a wood porch.
This limestone tower once supported a wood water tank.
Art Moderne handrails flank the side door of a 1930’s building combining brick and stone.
A combination of neglect and misguided repairs (portland cement) continue to take their toll on area structures.
A moderne motif on an otherwise all-brick structure pays homage to area tradition.
An Italianate commercial building displays a wide variety of stone finishing. An early addition to the left is more restrained than the original building.
The other facade of the building above. A portion of the metal cornice has been patched, presumably in an effort to stem what appears to be water damage below the repair. A former center door, converted to a window, shows more stone deterioration. Note the Mid-century canopy at right (sheltering a drive-up bank window).
The numerous patterned surfaces create interesting effects when viewed at various angles.
More delicious detailing. Note the bulbous bead of the window’s jamb, an integral part of the building’s character and the type of detail which is often lost when modern “replacement” windows are installed.
The stoop leading to the addition has been repurposed as an air conditioner’s condenser pad. The original paneled jambs flanking the entry are bowing inward. Dual transoms suggest the original door was much taller.
Some of the stone has been painted in a probable effort to thwart further deterioration. The unusual arched transom is happily different and very memorable.