Self-Guided Walking Tour Map, Historic Topeka Series

1— Saint Joseph Deutsche Katholische Kirche (St. Joseph German Catholic Church)
NW illustration of St. Joseph's Catholic Churchcorner 3rd and Van Buren (1899). Possibly one of the most appealing sections of town, the "Old World" look rests largely but not exclusively on the red-brick Romanesque style church built in 1899 to the plans of the Studahar firm of Rock Island, Illinois. Meeting the needs of the large German community, sermons were long conducted in that language; the parish had been established in 1887. One of Topeka's premier landmarks, both the interior and exterior have a restrained elegance. Msgr. Francis Henry, who celebrated St. Joseph's first mass, oversaw construction of the church. Along with Grace Cathedral and First Presbyterian, one of the city's finest.


Historic St. Joseph's Parish & Vicinity


   Choose number on map to read about location:

Map of St. Joseph parish area of Topeka St. Josephy Church New rectory, St. Joseph Church St. Joseph Convent Krauss residence residence St. John's Lutheran School residence residence residence Old St. Joseph's Rectory residence Bischoff residence residence Swedish Beneficiary Society Hall City Crematory Morrell Packing Plant Santa Fe Shops Topeka Rapid Transit Power Station W.A.L. Thompson Hardware Co. "Smoky Row" Seymour Packing Plant

St. Joseph's Church post card

New Rectory, St. Joseph Church

 2New Rectory, St. Joseph Church, 227 Van Buren (1933). Along with the W.W. Whitney house in Potwin Place and Holliday Park's Akers home, this is one of the finest Prairie style residences in Topeka. It resembles Frank Lloyd Wright's first major commission, the Winslow House in River Forest, Illinois, built in 1893. The Rectory was erected in 1933, a very late date for the Prairie style. Along with the Church, this is an important Topeka landmark.

St. Joseph School

3St. Joseph School, SE Corner 3rd and Van Buren (1912). Handsome three-story brick early 1900s schoolhouse with cross and niche with Saint above the main entrance. Pilasters with Corinthian capitals flank the round arch openings of the north and west entrances. It ceased as a school in the 1960s, but is used today for church social agencies.

St. Joseph Convent

4St. Joseph Convent, 306 Van Buren (1917). Completing this handsome grouping of buildings is the former convent, subsequently used as home for Catholic Social Services. The red brick of the upper two stories contrasts nicely with the limestone walls of the ground floor. Simple in elevation, Italian Renaissance in style, the tripartite window with fan light (south side) is its special feature; note, too, the brackets at the cornice. These four structures, honoring Topeka's German community, are treasures in the capital city and should be better known to the community as a whole.

5Krauss Residence, 318 Van Buren (c.1880). Large house supposedly designed by architect H.M. Hadley; was built for Oscar Krauss who owned a harness and hide business.

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6Residence, 328 Van Buren (pre-1900). Folk Victorian style home.

St. John's Lutheran School

7St. John's Lutheran School, 315 W. 4th Street (1922). Plain school building, now apartments; it briefly housed a ballet company.

8Residence, 413 W. 4th Street (c. 1905). Turn-of-the-century house with both Victorian and Craftsman features.

9Residence, 200 Harrison Street (c. 1880). Fine example of Italianate style house with its decorative brackets under the eaves, low-pitched hipped roof, and tall, narrow windows.

10Residence, 213 Harrison Street (c. 1895). Large Queen Anne style house with some modification to its fabric; e.g., newer porch, siding, etc.

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11Old St. Joseph's Rectory, 228 Harrison Street (1900). Large 3-story house with gambrel roof; has been slightly modified inside and out (i.e., the porch columns). Supposedly built for Miss Helen Henry, it served as St. Joseph's rectory from 1903 to 1934.

12Residence, 235 Harrison Street (c. 1900). Good example of large American Four-square style house. (2x-story, simple rectangular box with hipped roof and dormer window).

13Bischoff Residence, 334 Harrison Street (1905). Excellent late Queen Anne type in good condition; note classical or colonial revival details such as dentil molding and classical columns. Oscar Bischoff was in the Consular Service, 1885-87; Consul at Sonneburg Germany. House may have been briefly used as a private school.

14Residence, 207 Van Buren Street (c. 1910). Homestead style house (2x-story, simple rectangular box with front-gabled roof and columned front porch).

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OTHER NEARBY HISTORIC SITES:

15Swedish Beneficiary Society Hall, 218 W. 1st Street (pre-1890). The Swedish Beneficiary Society occupied this hall in August, 1906, after 20 years in a former brewery at Crane and Madison. The hall consisted of a two-story stone structure, which is now covered with stucco, and a longer brick addition to the rear. The stone barn located just east of the hall is a former dwelling modified for use as a barn. A stone wing running east and west was added to the north end of the hall some time after 1913. The Society apparently folded in the 1920s and later occupants of the building included a pattern maker and hatchery.

16City Crematory, 205-207 W. Crane Street (pre-1913). Two-story structure with tall brick chimney standing at the west end. Identified as the City Crematory by a 1913 map and a 1921 city directory, it was later used as headquarters for the city street department.

Morrell Packing Plant

17Morrell Packing Plant, 220 N. Quincy (complex of buildings alongside the Kansas Avenue Bridge) (1880-1940). Charles Wolff, Sr. started a smallslaughtering establishment in Topeka in the 1870s. Fifty years later the Wolff Packing Company employed more than 500 workers and distributed its products around the world. The complex includes a number of buildings that were erected for Wolff Packing Company before it was purchased by the John Morrell and Sons Packing Company in 1931. The cold storage plant, at the southwest corner of the complex was erected in 1909-1910. The 7-story structure was built for Morrell by F.M. Spencer & Sons in 1939-1940.

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Santa Fe Shops

18Santa Fe Shops Beginning in the 1870s, this area is an extremely important part of the industrial heritage of Topeka and the Santa Fe . Old Santa Fe Motive Power Building, North Adams Street (1880s). Beautiful 2-story limestone industrial building with prominent lintels; comparable to the distinctive Old Paint Shop (1880s) with its round arched entrances. The style of these two buildings contrasts with the newer brick and stone Motive Power Building at Crane and Branner Streets (1909 and 1931) and the massive Machine and Boiler Shop at Seward and Branner Streets (1902) with its distinctive saw-tooth skylights.

19Topeka Rapid Transit Power Station, 414 E. Second Street (1888-1889). A red brick structure which was erected to house the power plant for Topeka's electric street railway system, the first trolley system in Kansas. The building was designed by the Topeka architectural firm of Hadley and Cooper and cost an estimated $12,000. The system was in full operation by April 9, 1889. Acquired by the Kansas Power and Light Company in 1927, the system continued operation until July 17, 1937.

20W.A.L. Thompson Hardware Co. 235 Kansas Ave. (pre-WWII). Typical early 20th-century industrial/commercial building.

21"Smoky Row" NW corner of 2nd and Kansas Ave. (1900 and earlier). This grouping of commercial buildings is typical of what once was found along "Smoky Row", the area along Kansas Avenue north of 4th Street. The name tells it all: the pool halls/liquor joints/brothels that were found among the commercial buildings of lower Kansas Avenue were a rich and colorful part of Topeka's turn-of-the-century/prohibition history.

Seymour Packing Plant

22Seymour Packing Plant, 101 N. Kansas Ave. (c. 1900) Seymour was once one of the largest "egg-cracking" operations in the country. Built on the site of the first log house in Topeka (December 1854) where nine men from Lawrence met and established the city.

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