1907 Queen Anne Victorian House

Located at 202 West 13th in Goodland, Kansas, is an excellent example of a type of Victorian architecture usually called the Queen Anne style. Built during a time of early prosperity in 1907 by the widow of William Ennis, this two story house with covered porches has been an important part of Sherman County history for almost a century.

In the March 1, 1907 issue of the GOODLAND REPUBLIC appeared the following article with the headline—New Home of Mrs. Mary Ennis Almost Complete. "Our growing city will soon have as fine residences as can be found in the average up-to-date and progressive city of the Sunflower State. The Coon residence in the west part of town, the Mrs. Ennis and the Swarts residences just being completed are costly and elegant homes. This is an evidence of permanence, thrift and good taste. It means that Goodland is a good place to live in, and a thriving metropolis where quite large investment is perfectly safe.

The new home of Mrs. Mary Ennis on the corner of Thirteenth Street and Center Avenue is nearing completion. The contract price for erection, outside of the lots and grounds, was $5,000, and Fred Hunt is the contractor and builder. The residence faces south and east. It is a two story composite Gothic structure with four gables, two porches, two two-story and one one-story bay windows, a balcony, etc.

This elegant home stands on a brick foundation nearly three feet above the level of the grounds with capacious steps approaching the verandahs and entrances. Under one half of the structure there is a brick basement for furnace and wash room. The house has a porch light, electric lights in halls and rooms and is supplied with hot water radiators throughout, over and above an elegant fireplace and mantel in the parlor. All chambers rooms have closets, and the upper story has a large bath room, lavatory and closet.

The woodwork is finished in oak, filled and varnished. The hall entrance is roomy with a settee in a niche. Two flights of steps transverse to each other, with capacious landings lead to the upper story. This hall and stairway is finished in oak with Corinthian columns, railings and banisters.

wpe25.jpg (6417 bytes)

Built in 1906 by William Ennis, this old photo shows a classic example of the Queen Anne Victorian architectural style at the turn of the century. At one time this residence was the Bower Funeral Home.

      Handy-House-snow.jpg (11302 bytes)

handy1.jpg (298750 bytes)

A current photo of the 1907 Victorian House located at 202 West 13th Street.

The building is about ready for the decorators, and when the finishing touches are given and grounds are arranged it will be a very commanding and attractive home. The outlook from bay windows, in upper story, and the balcony, is fine."

Over a period of 94 years, the home has had six owners— Mrs. Mary Ennis, James P. Cullen, Mrs. Emily A. Stewart, LeRoy F. Heston, Hope Bower, and Calvin T. Handy. Each of these owners and their families have added to the significant history of Sherman County. This 1907 Victorian has been historically maintained and preserved through out the years even though it has been used as a home, a boarding house and as the Bower Funeral Home. The unique outside features of the elegant structure has been a part of the memories of citizens of this area of northwest Kansas over the decades and continues today to grace the corner across the street north from the oldest park in Goodland.

Some interesting historical facts are known about some of the people associated with this house. Born in Ireland in 1865, Mary Seaman Ennis came to Sherman County in 1894, with two of her sisters, Lyda and Margaret, to manage the Palace Hotel which was located on the northwest corner of 8th and Main. The Seaman sisters had formerly operated the Montezuma Hotel in Burlington, Colorado from about 1890 to 1894. The Seaman family—parents William and Martha, and children Mary, Lyda, Margaret, William and Tom had arrived in Colorado in 1887 to establish a ranch in that area.

The Palace Hotel had originally been built in the town of Eustis, as the first court house in the county, after Eustis was designated as the temporary county seat by Governor Martin in 1886. In August of 1887, the town of Goodland was organized and located two miles southwest of the town of Eustis. Goodland, Eustis and Voltaire were the contenders for the designation of permanent county seat in the election in the fall of 1887. After the election, followed a period of legal procedures and conflict over the results of the county seat election. Shortly after Goodland was declared the official permanent county seat in May of 1888, two Eustis buildings— the Eustis court house and the old Eustis Palace Hotel—were moved into Goodland and were joined together to become the Palace Hotel. The hotel was located in a prime business location just north of where the town windmill and water source stood in the middle of the intersection of 8th and Main.

The Palace Hotel burned on December 5, 1896. The building and the entire contents were totally destroyed, however the Seaman sisters, proprietors, who slept on the ground floor, were able to save part of their clothing and a portion of their chamber furniture, as reported in the December 11, 1896 issue of the GOODLAND REPULBLIC. The next issue of the newspaper contained a card of thanks from the Seaman parents, of Wallet, Colorado, thanking the people of Goodland who "tendered their assistance in helping their children out of the burning flames."

On January 4, 1897, the Seaman sisters opened a restaurant in the building formerly known as the Jeffery Drug Store. They advertised that table board was $3 by the week, with meal tickets for 21 meals available for $3.25 and ’good rooms in connection’. About a year later in February of 1898, Mary and Lyda bought the ’old News building recently occupied by Williams & Blodgett as a barber shop’. At that location, in April of that year, the Seaman sisters opened a millinery establishment. All indications are that the Seaman sisters were quite prosperous businesswomen for that era.

Mary Seaman married William Ennis in January of 1905. William Ennis had been born in 1852 in Chicago. He settled in the town of Eustis in Sherman County in 1886 where he went into partnership with William Walker in the operation of a Drug Store and a Livery barn. The partners were among the first businessmen to move to Goodland after the county seat conflict was settled. They opened an implement business and a drug store. Later the partnership dissolved with the businesses becoming the Ennis Drug Store, located on the southwest corner of the intersection of 8th and main, and Walker Implement which was located on the southeast corner of the intersection. In 1901, William Ennis was one of the three local business men that were instrumental in bringing the first telephone company into Goodland.

News articles of the time indicate that William Ennis, age 53, had sold his business before his marriage to Mary Seaman, age 40, with plans of enjoying retirement. Unfortunately this was not to be as "Billy", as the popular businessman was known, was diagnosed with stomach cancer by Dr. Carmichael in May of 1905. A trip was made to Chicago where the diagnosis was confirmed and X-ray treatment tried. Returning to Goodland, Billy again conferred with Dr. Carmichael who told him that there was not much that could be done, that an operation might be of benefit but that the chance of success was remote. According to local oral history, William Ennis supposedly told Dr. Carmichael to go ahead with the surgery as he would rather die trying the operation than to starve to death since the illness was making it difficult to eat. A Dr. Sheldon of Pueblo, Colorado was brought in to assist with the surgery, but two days later on August 29, 1905, William Ennis passed away. In December 1905, Mary Ennis bought the three lots at the northwest corner of 13th and Center, moved off a house and contracted for the elegant house to be built at 202 West 13th. Mary’s sisters, Margaret and Lyda Seaman bought lots just west of those of Mrs. Ennis.

Margaret Seaman married William Higdon on May 27, 1906 and the young couple left on train No. 10 to go to Horton, KS where Mr. Higdon had a clerical position in the Rock Island superintendent’s office. Just a few months later, Margaret and William Higdon returned to Goodland and lived with Mary Ennis. Less that a year later, the May 10, 1907 issue of the GOODLAND REPUBLIC reported the sudden death of Margaret, just a few days after the death of their baby. Margaret Higdon’s funeral was the first to be held in the house at 202 West 13th. During the 1940’s, the house was occupied by the Bower Funeral Home.

Mary Ennis had contracted with Fred Hunt for the construction of her house. Apparently romance was in the air as the May 2, 1907 issue of the Goodland News reported that contractor Fred Hunt and Lyda Seaman had married and that the couple and Mrs. Mary Ennis, sister of the bride, would be occupying the ‘elegant and commodious Ennis resident on West Thirteenth street’.

Mary Ennis continued to reside in the home until 1917 when she, with Fred Hunt and Jim Cullins, built the brick business building on the northwest corner of 12th and main, which was known as the Ennis-Hunt building. Mary Ennis took apartments on the second floor at the back of the building and Dr. Carmichael established his medical clinic in the front with a business on the first floor.

James P. Cullen was the owner of the property at 202 West 13th from July 5, 1917 until July 29, 1927. Apparently during this time, furnished rooms were rented to gentlemen or married couples according to newspaper advertisements. Mr. Cullen sold the house to Mrs. Emily A. Stewart on July 29, 1927. The July 21, 1927 issue of the Goodland News Republic had reported that Mrs. Emily A. Stewart had been granted a divorce from husband Arthur Stewart.

The Goodland News Republic issue May 14, 1930 reported: STEWART HOUSE SOLD, Roy Heston Purchases Fine Property. "A deal was closed yesterday whereby the fine home of Mrs. Emily Stewart, at 202 West Thirteenth, became the property of Roy F. Heston. A large portion of the furnishings was included in the sale, and possession will be given June 15th. The house is one of the most modern and best located in the city and is beautifully furnished."

Roy Heston was the Sherman County Treasurer. He resided in the home with his wife and two daughters, Twila and Gloria. The girls enjoyed living in the house which was just two blocks south of where their grandparents, the John Heston’s, lived on the southwest corner of 11th and Main, in the house which was known at the ‘old Millisack house’. A member of the Heston family has indicated that in 1939, the Roy Heston family moved in with the John Heston to help care for him after the death of John’s wife.

Apparently at the time, Roy Heston made an agreement with the Bower family for use of the house at 202 West 13th for the Bower Funeral Home as there are advertisements for the Bower Funeral Home which include photos of the house and information indicating funerals being held there although officially the house was not sold to Hope Bower until July 1, 1944. During this time the Bowers erected a memorial sign which was on the front lawn of the home in honor of Sherman County servicemen serving World War II. The sign was later installed on the south side of the Millisack building at 11th and Main.

The Bower family owned the property until October 6, 1956 when Hope (Bower) Littlejohn and husband sold the property to Calvin T. Handy. From the fall of 1956 until the death of Edythe Handy in August of 2000, members of the Handy family lived in the house.

In the autumn of 2000, the Sherman County Historical Society was offered the opportunity to purchase this property. Because of the support of the members and of the general public, in March of 2001, the Historical Society purchased the house with plans to use it for living history displays for the purpose of preserving and telling the history of Sherman County.