Focus on Preservation


Archeology Field School
The Kansas Historical Society and the Kansas Anthropological
Association will hold their annual Kansas Archeology Training Program
field school June 4-19 in Pottawatomie County. This year's field school
will be held in conjunction with the University of Kansas and the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers at the Coffey site along the Big Blue River in
the Flint Hills region north of Manhattan.
    The annual field school is an opportunity for the public to work
alongside professional and avocational archeologists. No experience is
necessary, just a desire to learn. Read details as PDF download. 5/5/2011

Please help find the earliest historic buildings in Kansas. As part of efforts to commemorate the state sesquicentennial, the Kansas State Historical Society (KSHS) is conducting a historic preservation survey to document all extant buildings in Kansas constructed through 1861, the year of Kansas statehood. Based on the survey and other research, the consultant will prepare a National Register historic context statement for “Kansas Vernacular Architecture, 1820-1900.”

Due to settlement patterns, these properties are largely located in the eastern half of the state. The properties to be surveyed will be identified through response to press releases prepared by the Kansas State Historical Society, consultant review of the Kansas Historic Resource Inventory (KHRI) and KSHS inventory files.

For this project, the term “vernacular” applies to practically all buildings constructed in Kansas Territory before 1861. For later historic contexts, the term “vernacular architecture” is defined as non-architect designed buildings that are constructed of locally available resources to address local needs and may reflect the environmental, cultural, and historic context of its location.

KSHS has contracted with preservation consultants Dale Nimz and Susan Jezak Ford to carry out this important survey. Since the project is to be completed by September 15, 2011, they need your help to identify the earliest historic buildings in your community. If you know of any surviving buildings constructed through 1861 in your area, please contact Amanda Loughlin, Survey Coordinator, Kansas State Historical Society, at 785.272.8681 x 257 or send a message to

Preliminary information about the Kansas Vernacular Architecture Survey will be presented at the State Preservation Conference, June 1-3, KSHS, 6425 SW Sixth Avenue, Topeka (see ).

Buildings may be donated for preservation.  Emergency stablization loans are possible.  Read about it on the Kansas Preservation Alliance web site:

From the AASLH Historic House Affinity Group committee, this Technical Leaflet may help forestall the decline in historic house museums in peril and outline a path back to a health and vigorous future:
How Sustainable is your Historic House Museum?
George Laughead, Kansas Heritage Group  —1/31/2009

   The Shawnee County Historical Society’s Ritchie House Campaign is complete. Work will begin this spring on restoration of the Hale Ritchie House.

SCHS seeks additional funding for its Educational Programs, such as continued support of local and state history curriculum development for third and seventh grades.

Visit our Photo Archive
of historic Shawnee County

See also:

SBA Tower Building, Menninger Hill, TopekaSt. Francis Hospital of Topeka purchased property on Menninger Hill in Topeka. Concern over fate of the historic Tower Building, once the Security Benefit Association Hospital, has been put to rest. St. Francis Chief Executive Officer Mike Schrader voiced plans to tear down all buildings except the clock tower during a three-month demolition process in Spring, 2008. Read article in the Topeka Capital-Journal, Apr. 14, 2008. 4/17/2008

More Preservation News


box [graphic] A BRIEF HISTORY

In January 2003 the Shawnee County Historical Society merged with Historic Topeka. The combined organization is called Shawnee County Historical Society . SCHS is dedicated to the preservation of Topeka's historic neighborhoods, buildings and sites.

Giving Topeka's Past a Future!

Captial "T" [graphic]he evolution of a community, its history and personality, is reflected in the architecture that remains from the past. Preservation of Topeka's landmarks and significant places is a recycling that encompasses the rehabilitation, restoration and adaptive reuse of individual buildings, whole blocks and entire neighborhoods.

By recycling landmarks and structures for uses which are appropriate now, a link is forged that connects our present community to the foundations of our heritage.

The Shawnee County Historical Society seeks to heighten awareness of Topeka's rich past and of the need for preservation of historic landmarks not based solely on architectural detail, but based on significance to the community.

The common sense wisdom of preservation is that communities should be a mix of the old and the new. That the fabric of a city is tied to the idea that all of its buildings were not created yesterday and that they will remain beyond tomorrow. These buildings are remnants of earlier times and are the irreplaceable footprints of our heritage stitched together in a harmony that includes entire blocks and neighborhoods.

We wish to encourage public participation in local preservation, to educate the community about the rich history of the city, and to provide leadership for all preservation activities. Many of Topeka's greatest treasures, such as the former Governor's Mansion, the Arthur Capper home, the Grand Theater, the Dickinson Theater, the library on the Statehouse grounds, and the old courthouse have been lost to progress.

The economic benefits of preservation make the adaptive reuse of buildings not only sensible but logical. Dollar for dollar a rehabilitated building provides more square footage, creates more jobs, and the end product features craftsmanship and materials that cannot be duplicated today. Discarded buildings and entire neighborhoods can be regenerated with whole new lives that often renew their integrity and utility in ways more profitable than their original use.

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box [graphic] Neighborhood Virtual Tours
box [graphic] Archive, Historic Topeka Newsletters
box [graphic] Photo Archive

See also:
Topeka Landmarks Commission

Topeka Historical Timeline

Visit Topeka
Virtural Library: US Historic Preservation

Past Community Projects:

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fountain, currently in Holliday Park, 12th at Western Streets

box [graphic] Preservation News
box [graphic] Preservation Web Links
box [graphic] A Brief History

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We welcome your comments!

view of Ross Row Houses

in-quote [graphic]Preservationists oppose the conventional American idea of comsuming ever more... We are struggling to reverse the 'use it up and move on' mentality.out-quote [graphic]

—Clem Labine, author

in-quote [graphic]When we thoughtlessly obliterate the buildings and places of our past, we demonstrate an insensitivity to what we were, a distain for what we in part still are.out-quote [graphic]

—Dr. John Brademan

Columbian, 112 SW 6 av
Devon, 12th at Taylor St
Greer, 418 SW 6th Av
Old Main, Topeka State Hospital, 6th and Randolph Streets
Sumner Grade School, 4th and Western Streets
Topeka High School, 10th and Western Streets
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