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Ritz Theatre in Baxter Springs nominated for National Register o - KOAM TV 7

Ritz Theatre in Baxter Springs nominated for National Register of Historic Places

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Topeka, KS -

TOPEKA, KS—At its regular quarterly meeting held at the Kansas Historical Society in Topeka on Saturday, November 8, the Historic Sites Board of Review voted to forward seven nominations to the office of the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places in Washington, D.C., to be evaluated by its professional staff. If staff members concur with the board's findings, the properties will be included in the National Register. The board also voted to list one property in the Register of Historic Kansas Places and to remove two properties from both registers.

The National Register of Historic Places is the country's official list of historically significant properties. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources. Eligible properties must be significant for one or more of the four criteria for evaluation. Properties can be eligible if they are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history. They can be eligible if they are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past. Distinctive construction can qualify properties for the National Register if they embody the characteristic of a type, period, or method of construction, or represent the work of a master, or possess high artistic values, or represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction. Lastly, properties may be eligible for the National Register if they have yielded or may be likely to yield information important in prehistory or history. The National Register recognizes properties of local, statewide, and national significance.

The Register of Historic Kansas Places is our state's official list of historically significant properties. Properties included in the National Register are automatically listed in the State Register. However, not all properties listed in the State Register are included in the National Register. The same general criteria are used to assess the eligibility of a property for inclusion in the state register, but more flexibility is allowed in the interpretation of the criteria for eligibility.

Below are summaries of the nominations and related documents:

National Register of Historic Places

Young Buck Site (14RY402) – northwest quarter Section 14, Township 10S, Range 7E, Manhattan, Riley County

The Young Buck site (14RY402) along the wooded south bank of Wildcat Creek in Riley County is the location of a prehistoric American Indian settlement. Recent archaeological investigations led by Kansas State University Research Associate Professor Brad Logan have yielded evidence of prehistoric habitation dating to the Woodland (AD 1-1000) and Late Prehistoric (AD 1000-1500) periods. The investigation targeted areas of potential future development identified by the City of Manhattan. The 2.5-acre site is nominated for its potential to yield significant information in the area of prehistoric archeology.

Hotel Roberts – 120 W. Fourth Street, Pratt, Pratt County

Built in 1930, Hotel Roberts is the largest and most highly styled historic hotel in Pratt. Construction of the hotel was initiated by the Pratt Chamber of Commerce, which formed a committee in the late 1920s specifically to facilitate the construction of a large new hotel. Seen as a potentially valuable asset for the community, the hotel was financed in part through a public subscription campaign and constructed on land provided by the Chamber. The Pratt Hotel Company owned and operated the hotel and hired Wichita architect Samuel S. Voigt and Kansas City contractor Webster L. Elson to design and build the building. Elson not only supervised the rapid construction of the “fire-proof” building, he was a founding member of the Pratt Hotel Company and retained an ownership interest in the property for many years. The community hospital was established on the eighth floor of the building in 1932, complete with an operating room and an x-ray machine. Architecturally, the building is significant as an early and sophisticated example of the Art Deco style in central Kansas. The hotel opened as the Hotel Roberts in 1930 and continued under that name until 1959, when it was purchased by Monte Parrish and renamed the Hotel Parrish. It is nominated for its local significance in the areas of architecture and community planning and development.

Ray L. Smith House – 812 W. Central Avenue, El Dorado, Butler County

Pipeline engineer Ray L. Smith commissioned the construction of this Colonial Revival-style residence in 1936. The P. T. Cortelyou Construction Company of Wichita built the residence, which is speculated to have been designed by Topeka-based architect Thomas W. Williamson who was overseeing the construction of El Dorado's high school and junior college that was completed in 1937. Smith's residence is located in the Cooper Park Addition to El Dorado, which was platted in 1877 but not fully developed until the 1920s and 1930s. The residence is an excellent local example of the side-gable subtype of the Colonial Revival style. Its characteristic features include a pedimented front door, many plain and fluted pilasters, multi-light sash windows, end chimneys, cornice returns, and working shutters. It is nominated for its local significance in the area of architecture.

Wirkler-Krehbiel House – 2727 N. Main Street, North Newton, Harvey County

The history of the Wirkler-Krehbiel House is intertwined with that of Bethel College located across the street. Christian and Elizabeth Wirkler were charter members of Bethel College, which formed in 1887 and opened its doors in 1893. Wirkler erected the Queen Anne-style residence in 1898, and he served the college by housing student boarders. It was later home to Wirkler's daughter Mary and her husband C. E. Krehbiel, an important local figure in early 20th century Mennonite circles and whose father had played a key role in the Mennonite settlement in the area. Bethel College acquired the home in 1958 and sold it in 1992 for use as a private residence. The house was built toward the end of the period during which the Queen Anne style was popular. The stylistic features include its irregular form, asymmetry, fishscale shingles, and turned spindles on the porch and balustrade. It is nominated for its local significance in the areas of education and architecture.

Little Stranger Church and Cemetery – Leavenworth County

The Little Stranger Church congregation built this wood-frame house of worship in 1868, and at the time of nomination, it stands to be the oldest wood-frame church in Kansas listed in the registers. The congregation traced its roots back to a group of settlers from Farley, Missouri, who arrived in Leavenworth County in 1858. Frequent announcements in the newspapers regarding various guest preachers suggest the church may have relied on the assistance of area churches for Sunday sermons. Despite the apparent success of the church in the 1910s, it closed in 1919 during the flu epidemic, never to reconvene again. The building remained shuttered until 1929 when a 4-H club requested to use the building for its meetings. Various organizations held meetings in the building through the mid-20th century. The church stands as a reminder of mid-19th century building techniques. It has a rectangular form and gable-front roof that presents a straight-forward image of utilitarian design. The associated cemetery includes more than 100 known graves, with the earliest deaths dating from the late 1850s and early 1860s, suggesting the cemetery may have pre-dated the construction of the church. It is nominated for its local significance in the areas of early settlement history and architecture.

Ira E. Lloyd Stock Farm – 1575 Avenue JJ, Ellsworth, Ellsworth County

Ellsworth attorney Ira E. Lloyd, who settled in Ellsworth in 1873, developed a stock farm east of town in the early 20th century. Lloyd served as the city's attorney in 1874 and as the county's attorney from 1875 to 1878. He had a brief political career in state-level politics, serving in the Kansas Senate representing District 30 from 1885 to 1887. He remained active in Republican Party politics, but he developed other interests in real estate, stock breeding, and horse racing. He partnered with W. H. Huntington to manage his Ellsworth Horse Farm north of town until 1902. Lloyd slowly acquired parcels of land that eventually became his 172-acre stock farm on the eastern outskirts of Ellsworth. Although the timeline of development and land acquisition is not fully known, it is speculated that after his wife's death in 1899, Lloyd transitioned away from the horse farm north of town and focused on his new stock farm east of town. At this property, Lloyd managed a rather diverse small farm raising shorthorn cattle, chickens, and turkeys, and growing crops such as wheat and corn. It is nominated as part of the Historic Agriculture-Related Resource of Kansas multiple property nomination for its local significance in the area of agriculture.

Dalton Gang Hideout and Museum – 502 S. Pearlette Street, Meade, Meade County

The Dalton Gang Hideout and Museum is a product of the auto-tourism era of the early and middle 20th century. The Meade Chamber of Commerce, with assistance from the Work Projects Administration (WPA) and the National Youth Administration, developed the site in 1940 around the former residence of John and Eva (Dalton) Whipple, a sister of the famed outlaw Dalton brothers known for their robbery of trains and banks. Though stories of the Dalton Gang visiting Meade in the late 1800s surfaced in the early 20th century, primary source evidence to support these claims has remained elusive. Nevertheless, local officials hoped to attract visitors using the colorful Dalton Gang tales and showcase history through the collections of local history buffs at this site. WPA officials reportedly turned down the community's first proposal because it romanticized a gang of outlaws. The plans were resubmitted under the name Meade Historical Park, and greater emphasis was given to developing local history at the site. This mid-20th century roadside attraction is nominated as part of the New Deal-era Resources of Kansas and Roadside Kansas multiple property nominations under Criterion A for its local significance in the areas of social history, government, and tourism.

Register of Historic Kansas Places - Nominations

Ritz Theatre – 1145 N. Military Avenue, Baxter Springs, Cherokee County

The Ritz Theatre opened in 1926 in a converted two-story commercial building along Route 66 in downtown Baxter Springs. The building had previously housed John M. Cooper's Dry Goods and Clothing Store, which opened in the 1880s, and the upper floor had served as a gathering space for various social organizations. Under the guidance of Joplin architect T. E. Martinie, the building was converted to a theater in 1926 and officially opened on April 30, showing The Ancient Highway, distributed by Paramount Pictures. A packed house heard music from Mrs. Roy Brooks, an organist at the Victory Theatre in Rogers, Arkansas. The popularity of drive-in theaters throughout the tri-state area likely contributed to the closing of the theater in the mid-1950s. The building then functioned as the Blue Castle Restaurant from 1957 to 1980. At the time of nomination, the building is being renovated to reflect its former use as a theater. It is nominated to the Register of Historic Kansas Places under Criterion A for its local significance in the area of entertainment/recreation.

Removals – National Register of Historic Places

Rush County Line Bridge – Rush/Russell County Line

The Rush County Line Bridge was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1986 as part of the Masonry Arch Bridges of Kansas multiple property nomination for its local significance in the areas of engineering and transportation. The bridge plaque indicated it was a project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and was completed in 1936.

The bridge was demolished in 2014. The proposal to demolish the bridge required a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, a federal agency, and was reviewed under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. Rush County agreed to nominate to the National Register another similar New Deal-era bridge (Sand Creek Tributary Stone Arch Bridge) in their county to mitigate the loss of the Rush County Line Bridge.

First Presbyterian Church of Abilene – 300 N. Mulberry Street, Abilene, Dickinson County

The First Presbyterian Church of Abilene was listed in the National Register of Historic Places May 25, 2001 for its local significance in the area of architecture. The limestone building was built in 1882 and 1883 and reflected the Gothic Revival and Romanesque styles. A new wing was added to the building in 1931. The Presbyterians moved to a new church in 1968 and the Southern Baptist Church congregation later purchased the building. In 1994, Terry Tietjens purchased the building for use as a Center for Performing Arts. The building was destroyed by a fire July 23, 2014.

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