Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Nicholson House

And next in my Spurgeon series, perhaps my very favorite and most tragic of the homes. Honestly, I almost wept at seeing the last pictures of it...

Joseph Wiley Spurgeon built this home for George Edward Nicholson. Nicholson was once considered one of the wealthiest men in Kansas. In 1909, Nicholson was worth around $4 million and reputedly carried $1.5 million in life insurance, the largest individual policy ever taken out on an individual at that time. Nicholson was a developer of cement plant, brick kiln, zinc mine, and gas line industries. Nicholson lived in Baldwin for a number of years after 1900. He played an important role as a philanthropist, establishing missionary schools operated by the Methodist church in Baroda, India, and Manila, Philippine Islands. At Baker University, Nicholson was endowed as chair of Philosophy and Bible and was named a trustee.

When Nicholson moved to Kansas City, Missouri afterthe death of his wife, Spurgeon was responsible for moving the family mausoleum from the home to the Oakwood Cemetery. His home in Kansas City, Missouri is on the National Register of Historic Places. Unfortunately, his home in Baldwin City did not survive to receive such an honor. After the Kappa Sigma fraternity house at 8th and Dearborn burned in 1910, and they purchased the Nicholson home. “At the time, the house was the highest priced piece of property in Baldwin and greatly admired Baldwinites and outsiders alike. The Fraternity moved in early 1911.”

The George E. Nicholson home featured a series of dormers along the roofline, some triangular and some gambrel. Metal cresting ran along the roofline. The chimneys were decorated with intricate brickwork. The porch wrapped around the entire home and had turned spindle posts topped with an arched bannister. The columns were round and topped with some type of decorative trimwork. The same trimwork was used on the top exterior windows as in the Francis Xavier Jardon Sunday Home. Dentils and brackets, identical to those used on the Tri-Delta house, seperated each story.

Inside, the hardwood floors featured intricate inlays. The trimwork and pocket door are identical to that used in the Francis Xavier Jardon Sunday Home. The interior lights were quite similar to those used in the Sunday Home as well. Picture rail, a feature not included in the Sunday Home, lines the ceilings.

Again, fire destroyed another Kappa Sigma house on September 13, 1915. “The Kappa Sigma house was valued at $20,000. It was erected several years since by Mr. Geo. E. Nicholson and was very elaborately finished throughout. This town will probably never see another house on which so much money will be lavished. “ Baldwin City Ledger.

A new chapter house would be built in the same location, by Joseph Spurgeon. This brick home would stand until fire yet again destroys the Kappa Sigma House in August 1976.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

OMG! That house was amazing. A mansion.