Saturday, December 2, from 4-8 p.m.
Sunday, December 3, from 1-5 p.m.
Tickets are $10 and will be available during the tour.
Homes are a refuge, places of beauty, and always utilitarian. The rich assortment of homes on the 46th Homes for the Holidays tour, which will be on Dec. 2 and 3, ranges from quite small to positively generous, but all demonstrate why where we live matters.
Abilene has hosted visitors for an annual tour of homes every year since 1976. From the beginning, the event has flourished and has become an Abilene tradition for many that is eagerly anticipated by Kansans each year.
The Heritage Homes Association (HHA) was founded by DCHS as an outgrowth of its Historic Preservation Committee. The association grew and eventually applied for its own non-profit status, and the homes tour sponsorship was moved to the new organization, whose mission was more closely associated with the historic homes featured on the tour.
Under the marking program, individual properties 50 years or older are marked with a bronze plaque bearing the home’s date of construction. Each property must be researched, gathering a complete history of the property – when the home was originally built, by whom, and the chain of owners over the years. Property tax records, deeds, and court filings are just some information sources. HHA volunteers have spent many hours doing this research and are happy to assist homeowners.
Once the home’s full history has been completed, the association purchases a bronze plaque bearing the year the home was built and installs it for the homeowner.
A permanent file is then established, with each file containing copies of the verifying documents, a complete history of the home, as well as any photographs of the home. This file is placed in the permanent records at DCHS and made available to the public for review or research. This program has greatly enhanced the resources available on Abilene’s built environment. The plaques are the property of HHA and must remain with the home if sold.
Preserving the history of Abilene’s historic homes is the mission of HHA, with over 150 homes receiving bronze plaques to date. All profits from each tour go towards the purchase of the bronze plaques.
In 2009, the Heritage Homes Association received a Preservation Advocate award from the Kansas Preservation Alliance for their commitment to the preservation and documentation of the built environment in and around Abilene, Kansas.
Tickets are $10 and have a map showing the homes and church locations. Children are welcome, but no special pricing is offered for children. There is no charge for “babes in arms.” Tickets may be purchased in advance or during the tour from three locations: West’s Plaza Country Mart, 1900 N. Buckeye Ave.; Abilene Downtown Antique Mall, 313 N. Buckeye Ave.; and Mud Creek Antique Mall, 319 N. Buckeye Ave.
For more information, please see littletownofmansions.com
210 NW 10th Street – Tony and Sarah Geiger
Jonathan and Sarah Warfield built the original house in this location. He came to Kansas in1868, married Sarah Henry and homesteaded in Marion County, Kansas. They came to Abilene in 1876, building the original home at the corner of Cedar and North 10th Street. Mr. Warfield continued farming until his death in 1912. Bertha remained in the home until 1914, when she sold to Charles Willett Taylor and Bertha Taylor and their five daughters, who lived in the home. In 1915, they moved the house to the east of the original location and proceeded to build the Prairie-style home we see today. Mr. Taylor was President of The Farmers National Bank for 15 years until his death in 1942.
The Taylors moved into the new house on Christmas Eve in 1919 and lived in the home until 1944, when it was sold to one of their daughters, Jean & Lyman Marshall. Lyman was a cashier at Farmers National Bank & later became a Vice President of that bank. The 1920 Abilene City Directory gives the address as 1001 N. Cedar Street. The 1933 Abilene City Directory gives the address as 10th and Cedar Streets.
In 1967, Lambert & Blanch became the owners & moved in with their family of seven children. Lambert was the Assistant Secretary at the United Trust Co. and later became VP & sec. Upon retirement, he went into the real estate business, retiring in 2011.
While the Lamberts were living in the home, the address was again changed, this time in 1970 – to 210 NW 10th Street, according to the Abilene City Directory.
In 1984, Noble “Jack” & Robin Shreck purchased the home & lived there for just a short time. Both Jack and Robin were self-employed. The next owners were Charles & Dorothy Loyd, who came from California in 1991 and turned this home into Dora Theay Ah’s Bed & Breakfast. They remained in the home until 1998 when Tony & Sarah Geiger and their 3 children became the owners of the home. Tony, now retired, was employed by UMB Bank, formerly the Farmers National Bank. Sarah, also retired, was a teacher in USD 435.
301 Hilltop Drive – Rebecca Perkins
301 Hilltop Drive is unique in that it is one of only a few homes that have had one owner. This classic 1960s ranch has undergone a complete transformation in the last two years when Rebecca Perkins became the owner of the home after her mother’s death in 2021.
Maxine (Mustard) Perkins, Rebecca’s mother, purchased the land from William and Beulah Priem in 1969 with the agreement that they would build a house based on Maxine’s specifications. The original dwelling consisted of a living room, kitchen, family room, three bedrooms, two baths and basement. Maxine added a brick front and a fireplace and then removed the wall between the kitchen and family room, creating an open kitchen concept that was unusual for the time.
Maxine, a fourth-generation Dickinson County resident, worked for many years at Southwestern Bell Telephone Company (later Sprint) as a telephone operator and later in the business office. She also worked at the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame and the Dickinson County Historical Society and was active in the local Democratic Party.
Upon her mother’s death, Rebecca returned to Abilene after living in New Jersey. “Maison Prairie” (the prairie house) reflects her love of all things French. The interior of the house has been completely renovated, while the original footprint has been left intact.
“My challenge was to utilize every inch of space and add design features that would reflect my taste,” says Rebecca. Renovations include a gourmet kitchen, new hall bath and master bath, and the addition of a bedroom/living area and full bath in the basement with storage for Beki’s dinnerware collection. The renovation also included new doors (interior and exterior), new flooring, new windows, and new HVAC (central air, heating, tankless hot water heater and whole house water filter).
Exterior renovations include the addition of a roof peak and a new front porch and walkway; a back screened porch and deck accessed through two sets of French doors; and new privacy fencing and landscaping.
“This renovation has been a true labor of love for me,” says Beki. “With every change I made, I asked myself if my mom would have approved. I hope she’d be proud and happy to see it today.”
517 Tom Smith Circle – Greg and Ann Rose
The homes on Tom Smith Circle, built by Modern Homes, Inc. in 1955, were built the Shakertown GLUMAC Units way. The shakes, 16” x 46 ¾” in size, bonded to tapered backer-board, were easy to handle. This ‘new’ kind of siding came in 8 different colors. According to their advertisement, a house could be side-walled in a day, making it up to 3 times faster and saving up to 70% on application costs. If you take a closer look at the homes in the circle, you can see these shakes. Some of the homes have been ‘updated,’ but the one at 517 has its original shakes from when it was built in 1955.
In March 1955, Donald M. and Martha Jane Nicolay purchased the property from Modern Homes, Inc. and proceeded to build their home with a $11,000 mortgage from The United Trust Company, which was released in January 1963. When Martha died in February 1976, it is speculated that Donald then moved to San Antonio, Texas, to live with their daughter, Ann Erickson, until his death in December 1976. She then inherited the property.
Alice Hess Lueck, an Abilene High School and University of Kansas graduate taught at Netawaka High School. There, she met Henry Lueck, and they married in 1945. Henry served as TSGT in the US Army during World War II. They owned and operated the Lueck Grain Co. of Netawaka. Henry was very active in his community and the political arena, with Henry’s election as Democratic State Chairman in 1975. At Henry’s death in 1976, Alice returned to Abilene.
Alice lived in the home until 2000, moving to Village Manor in Abilene, Kansas and deeding a life estate interest to her niece, Ann Hartnett Rose and her sister, Mildred L. Hartnett. In 2007, Mildred released her interest in the property to her daughter, Ann, who, with her husband Greg, is the current owner.
Donald M. Nicolay retired in 1966 as the general auditor of United Utilities Company, Inc. For many years, he was associated with United Utilities Company of Abilene, later known as United Telecommunications, Inc., Kansas City.
Randy Reynolds and his wife, Annette, were the next occupants. Their family owned and operated a livestock auction. Later, they, along with their partners, were associated with Reynolds, Mugler and Geist Auction Company. Five years later, the current owners, Greg and Ann Rose, occupied the home.
Greg and Ann are the owners of Rose Electric Inc. Greg is following in his father’s footsteps, and Ann has been teaching at USD #435 since 1990. Greg also currently teaches an electrical course at Salina Area Technical College.
904 N. Kuney Street – Lauren Baune and Sandra Bacon
This beautifully preserved Craftsman-style house was built in 1919 by Thomas Lester Welsh. He was employed as the Secretary/Treasurer and later president of the Abilene Flour Mill until his death in 1964. He was identified with the milling industry longer than any other miller in the southwest. He was selected as the Kansas Businessman of the Month by Kansas Business Magazine, with his picture featured on the front cover. He was also one of the original trustees of the Eisenhower Foundation. He and his associates worked with Kansas State University to develop milling science. As a hobby, he bred Hereford cattle and maintained a large herd on a farm east of Abilene. He married Willa Wilks on December 26, 1915, in Panhandle, Texas.
Willa was born in Moore, Oklahoma and died on June 13, 1980. She and Thomas are buried in the Abilene Cemetery.
Willa and Thomas had one son and three daughters, Lois, Lesta Lou and Janis. Upon Willa’s death in 1989, their daughter, Lois Cissna, became the owner of the home.
When Lauren and Sandra were transferred to Abilene from Minnesota in 2016, their retirement plan was to buy a place they could turn into a bed and breakfast, and they felt this home was perfect! The house has “six bedrooms upstairs!” And three bathrooms!
One of the remarkable things about the house is that Sandra and Lauren were the first owners outside the Welsh family to own the home, which, when Lauren and Sandra purchased it, was 97 years old.
One of its features is quite uncommon – a walkway across the stairs on the second floor. Also, the two-story porches are a rare and interesting feature atypical of Craftsman houses. The upper porch is open, while the lower porch is screened in. There is also a laundry chute for the convenience of the original ‘lady of the house.”
Since then, they have glazed almost all the windows; there are 66 of them, and removed all the carpet throughout the home to discover beautiful oak floors, which they restored. Most of the restoration has been cosmetic and maintenance, removing wallpaper and painting, as well as updating the plumbing and electrical. They have made no structural changes to the home, although they have updated the kitchen area, which is Sandra’s pride and joy.
907 N. Buckeye Avenue – Scott and Lynette Hill
The 1917 Abilene Sanborn Insurance Map #3 shows three structures built on the north side of N. Buckeye Avenue and a foundation for another structure. When Howard E. Hoffman acquired the west 140’ of the south 40’ of Lot 6 & the west 140’ of the north 20’ of Lot 7 in 1923, he was able to ‘squeeze’ a home right in the middle of the block.
Chas C. Wyandt purchased the home in 1929, joining his brother in the mercantile business; he later organized the Wyandt Mortgage & Investment Co. & the Wyandt Insurance Co. He was active in the Presbyterian Church, Rotary Club, Masons, city council, school board, served as city clerk & was an original organizer & board member of the Memorial hospital.
Fred & Bessie Coulson were the next owners. He entered the telephone business as a lineman’s helper at age fifteen, retiring after 40 years as the assistant general manager & secretary of the United Telephone Company (later Southwestern Bell Telephone). Active in the Rotary Club, he ended his Rotary career as director of Rotary International and served as president of the Sunflower Hotel Company.
In May 1942, Mamie O. Rumold purchased the home. Husband William J. dealt in real estate & loans & served in the military Co. L 20th Kansas. Mamie later married George F. Merrill.
October 1943 Joseph B. & Helen Zeigler were the property owners. No information can be found about them.
Arthur & Marybelle Martin were the next owners. Arthur was associated with his father in the dry goods business, worked for Wells Fargo Express Company & was made agent for the American Railroad Express during WWI. Later operated a shoe store, managed Brown Memorial Home, and became secretary of the Abilene Cemetery Association.
1950 Charles A. & Wilma M. Engle were the next owners. Charles was in the implement & truck dealer business.
Willard & Dorothy Carkkuff came to Abilene in 1941. He owned & operated the Gas Appliance Company, expanding to Junction City, Clay Center, Miltonvale & Gypsum and served two terms as Abilene’s mayor. Dorothy died from injuries suffered in a two-vehicle accident, and he died 15 days later.
William & Elaine Sears came to Abilene in 1963, began working for the Roy Simmons Accounting firm, purchased the home in 1970, and opened his accounting firm in 1976 in a building just south of the Abilene Post Office, where he also helped start the Good News Bookstore. He was a CPA for nearly 50 years, served six years with the Air National Guard, was a 50-year Lions Club member, and served on the board of the Eisenhower Foundation, the Brown Home Foundation, & the Abilene Cemetery. He met regularly with other businessmen for coffee, a tradition that lasted for over five decades & with a group of men for a Saturday morning bible study.
In 2022, Scott and Lynette Hill purchased the home, and he serves as a Kansas State Representative.
507 N Buckeye Avenue – St. John’s Episcopal Church
St. John’s Episcopal Church might be described as a building with more grace than its surroundings.
The application to have it placed on the National Register of Historic Places put it gently. It describes the church as “a modest yet nicely articulated example of the Gothic Revival style” located on the street “characterized by a mixture of commercial and residential pockets with spotty architectural cohesion and integrity.”
Beginning as a simple Gothic Revival wood structure in 1882, it was completed in 1885.
“The sanctuary today incorporates the original structure in its entirety,” the application says. “The original rectangular plan was expanded in each direction in 1939 in a comprehensive makeover to achieve the present cruciform plan so characteristic of Goth Revival church. This exterior remodeling was done as a memorial to prominent Abilene businessman Herbert Hodge, with the eight lancet windows in the structure retained and re-glazed. These stained glass windows are memorials to many prominent early Abilene citizens.
“The new form and finishes created a Gothic character far more refined than the original structure. The remodeling captured the attention of Robert Ripley’s nationally syndicated newspaper feature ‘Ripley’s Believe it or Not’, which billed the project as the “Church Inside a Church’.”
As you enter the church from Buckeye Avenue, you enter the vestibule where the columbarium with 32 niches is located on the north wall, added in 1994 for church members. You then enter the original church through the double doors. The sanctuary is quite beautiful, the most striking architectural feature being the very beautiful vaulted ceiling with exposed beams and tongue-in-groove boards. To the right is the baptistery, which was made from wood and banisters from the old rectory. The font is from the original church. The processional equipment, including flags, banners and torches, are also kept here. The pews are original, as are the prayer desk, altar, hymn board, pulpit, lectern, candlesticks, and altar cross. The organ is the third in the church’s 145-year history.
In the two back hallways are the stained glass windows from the original church depicting wheat and grapes, symbolic of the bread and wine.
The exterior is square-cut limestone with a steeply pitched roof. The bright red front door is attached with “hammered” finish hardware.
This year, the church is celebrating the 145th anniversary of its founding! It is one of the oldest congregations in Abilene.