c. 1900 – Emporia, KS

SOLD / Archived From 2014
Added to OHD on 4/16/14   -   Last OHD Update: 3/30/19   -   35 Comments
Address Withheld
  • $95,000
  • 7 Bed
  • 5 Bath
  • 3006 Sq Ft
7 unit apartment home. Currently vacant and awaiting your TLC to make it cash flow again. Selling as is where is. Estimated gross income will be in the $1800 to $2000 range monthly when full. Separate electric meters. Call Remax Select for more details. 620-343-9800
Sold By
Aaron Sewell, Re/Max
(620) 366-0793
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35 Comments on c. 1900 – Emporia, KS

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  1. RossRoss says: 2406 comments


    So, I am hard at work on the Cross House and adjacent carriage house.

    One would think I had no time, or brain space, to even think of even looking at another property.

    One would think.

    But a house was just listed. Only three doors to the north. And the house — in a perilous state —is crying to be saved. Help me! Heeeeeeeeeeelp me!

    Can one ignore such a plea?


    The immediate area is what I call a first-generation neighborhood, where the well-to-do in the late nineteenth-century lived. A primary asset was the close proximity to downtown, and the ease of walking to work, shops, restaurants, and theaters. So, bank owners and bank officers lived here. The owner of the newspaper, too (his house is now a historic site). The mayor. And so on. However, like all such neighborhoods, the advent of the automobile allowed people to live farther away from the bustle of downtown, and such neighborhoods — across America — were in decline by 1910.

    The home at 618 Union (the Cross House is 526) was eclipsed as a fashionable place to live almost as soon as it was built.

    Around 1920, I estimate, the house was converted to apartments — when it was still, essentially, brand new. The renovation was thoughtful, and the same doors and trim as were originally used were also used in the renovation. Three units were created on the main level, two above, and in the 1950s it appears that two more units were created in the basement. Two such units are studios; the remaining are one-bedrooms.

    At the time of the conversion the house would have been a genteel apartment house, but with each passing decade the house became older, maintenance grew less fastidious, and in time the house became, well, slum-like. Today, it is shabby, and with multiple garbage cans on the once elegant front porch.


    I anticipated the worse: dropped acoustical ceilings, cheap wall paneling, moldy carpets, and no remaining original trim, doors, or hardware. Maybe, just maybe I hoped, there might be bits of the original staircase.

    Standing on the front porch was surprisingly encouraging. The front door, and with its beveled glass, was in situ. It seemed not possible. Adjacent was not only a leaded-glass original window, but one with beveled glass. Undamaged. Unbowed. It seemed not possible. I forgot about the garbage cans.

    The front door (with no knob) was ajar. The foyer floor (oak) was littered with debris, leaves, and a great deal of feathers.

    Then I saw it. I gasped. My eyes opened wide. I gasped again.

    The stair. The stair! Not only was it fully intact, and in excellent condition, but a glory. Stunning. Wondrous. One of the very best staircases I have ever seen.

    With the house being ravaged for so many decades, how was this oak survivor possible?

    I stood, speechless. Then looked around. There was another beveled leaded-glass window in the spacious foyer. Also undamaged and unbowed. I walked over and caressed the fine stair and its luscious detailing. Wow. As if in a trance, I walked up to the stair landing. And shrieked. Wow. wow! WOW!

    To my utter amazement, the landing was in a kind of bay. There were two leaded glass windows angled in each corner, curiously and deliciously low, and each with a shelf on top. Overhead, the whole ceiling was a graceful (and highly unexpected) arch. Wow!

    I just stood, breathless, and came back down.

    Wandering through the many rooms, I was consistently struck by how intact the house was, and rich with mostly unpainted trim, doors, and windows. Again, how was this possible?

    The foundation looks to be in excellent condition, a testament to the quality of its original construction.

    There is a large, unfinished attic, with its own stair.


    The house surprises in many, many ways. Yes, it is astonishingly intact, but it is also evident how thoughtful the apartment conversion had been. There were no grim, mean units, but rather each was charming and appealing, although some quite small.

    The original living room, for example, now a studio unit, has a glorious, sweeping round corner. GORGEOUS. The original dimensions of the room were shrunk to install a kitchen and full bath along one wall. A closet was inserted along another wall. It is clear from remaining evidence that a pair of pocket doors once separated the living room from the foyer. I surmise that these doors might remain, simply buried inside a reduced opening.

    The dining room was also shrunk by the insertion of a bathroom. It would be easy to re-open the dining room to the living room.

    And so on.

    The immediate area is a mix of finely restored single-family homes, well-maintained old homes converted to rentals, poorly maintained rentals, and apartments blocks form the 1960s and 70s (some in excellent condition; some not. None are attractive.).

    I would love to see the house restored as a single-family and the shrunken main rooms returned to their original spacious sizes. Perhaps keeping the two basement units would be an idea, thus paying the mortgage.


    I have rarely seen a house which showed so badly. It is filled with detritus, old furniture, animal feces, a ton of feathers, and likely some small dead animals.

    Yet, under all this is a high-quality home blessed with mostly intact woodwork and details. All very beautiful.

    The stair is a wonder.

    The house will need all new wiring, new HVAC, new plumbing, and a great deal of exterior work.

    I think the asking price, although low, is highly optimistic, but if my plate were not so very very very full I would not hesitate to make an offer on this home.

    My realtor was, as always, very gracious in showing me the house. Her name is Lacie Hamlin, and her contact number is 620 481-0213

    Oh, the house next door (south) is also a wonder. See last image (the gray house). It has also long been converted to apartments, as with the house just again to the south. However, both were recently purchased by a mother/daughter, and are now back to single family.

    Just to the south is the massive Cross House, and it is undergoing — or so it is rumored — a full restoration:


    A few block to the north is another OHD charmer. It has been sold, and the buyer is reportedly planning a restoration:


  2. AvatarLaurie says: 1609 comments

    Ross, your halo is shining extra bright. With the demands on your time, energy, & brain, that you take more of each of those to care & advocate for this lovely old place is a wonder. I hope it finds the family it needs — and who need it.

  3. Paul WPaul W says: 562 comments

    Ross, as someone who owns 8 Victorian homes in one neighborhood I may be an expert in the art of Overbuying, but over the years I have turned around a few neighborhoods so I have some strategies that work. If you could acquire this at the right price my suggestion is to not think about restoring it yourself but rather stabilizing it. I am doing this with some of the properties we have. Spend some time cleaning it out then what effort you put in, you put on the front façade only. Landscape/mulch the front yard, Give the front elevation a nice paint job. Stop there! You can them place a protective deed covenant on the exterior and any important interior features, set time frames for the buyer to restore , say 2-3 years and it must be a single family. Put a big banner on the front of the house “Preservation Opportunity” with your number. With other people doing work on the block, sooner than later, the right kind of person will come along. You get the house out of the “slumlord cycle” and into the owner occupant single family cycle again. One person cannot do everything but if you selectively jump start key properties others will come along….and you wont go crazy!

  4. AvatarVicki F. says: 72 comments

    OMG…I am in love with that awesome staircase! I’m sure there is much potential for restoration, although it apprears it would be a daunting task. So now we have the “before” pictures, Ross that we can compare with your “after” pictures when this is complete because it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if you announce that it’s yours in the near future!

  5. Meg@sparrowhaunt.comMeg@sparrowhaunt.com says: 101 comments

    Ross, you could be King of Emporia! Seems like quite the gem of a town, run down or not… Didn’t you promise that a blog would be forthcoming when you purchased the Cross House?

  6. RossRoss says: 2406 comments

    Paul, most excellent advice! Thank you.

    However, I do not plan on buying 618, no matter my lust. As I mentioned above, my plate is full full full with the two Cross properties.

    By getting the house posted on OHD, my hope was that this would bring some attention to the property, and maybe some other old house fool will fall in love and undertake a restoration!

  7. RossRoss says: 2406 comments

    Hi Meg,

    Yes, my new blog is being developed, but is not ready yet!

  8. AvatarCher@Newburgh Restoration says: 22 comments

    7 units squeezed into this house?! Oh my! Poor house. But she looks great despite all the butchering!

    • Avatarnancy says: 16 comments

      agreed–my 1st thought was “7 apts from one poor old house?”
      it needs a lot of work (starting w/a lot of clean up) but a whole house for less than the cost of a luxury sedan?….

  9. Avatarlara jane says: 572 comments

    I can’t even with this town…! If only our family didn’t have deep roots here!

  10. RossRoss says: 2406 comments

    Hi Cher,

    Yes, seven units! But, even though I had expected the worst, the house is not butchered. The conversion was thoughtful and respectful, and the house could easily revert back to single-family.

    Because the house was so well built, and of quality materials, it has well withstood all the insults upon it!

  11. Sue S.Sue S. says: 304 comments

    I’m happily amazed at the amount of beautiful woodwork that was left intact. Banged up maybe, but left and not painted white. I hope someone can buy this place and give it the love it deserves.

  12. John ShifletJohn Shiflet says: 4718 comments

    Ross, Sir, you ROCK! I wish every community with an over-abundance of faded old houses had folks like you and Paul W. (who I’ve been friends with for over a decade) BTW, that door with the “creative” piece of rope in place of a doorknob, you’ll find a patent date of Sept. 1900 on the back of the stamped brass backing plate. I salvaged a few matching pieces from a teardown and they included a few banged up door knobs. I think they are now being reproduced. They made matching pattern inset window lifts and I think I may have a few of those somewhere as well. In any case, this is an impressive early 1900’s eclectic style house…trash cans, animal remains, and eight missing electric meters notwithstanding. It’s an early architectural exploration of the Foursquare house form with interior details borrowed from the ornate Queen Anne style which was fading away at the time. Outside simplicity, interior richness. Nice combo.

  13. EricEric says: 150 comments
    OHD Supporter

    1918 Bunkhouse
    WestOfMiddleOfNowhere, KS

    The house next-door to the south (shown in Ross’ last photo above) was in the McAlester’s original 1984 edition of “Field
    Guide to American Houses, but was for some reason apparently removed from later editions. The house to the south of
    that, however, (which you can barely see in Ross’ photo) is included in later editions. It is photo #1 on page 293. Thankfully,
    someone has removed the wide siding from it to reveal the original shingles. Emporia is a great town for afficianados of
    19th century domestic architecture. NOTE TO ROSS: Do not buy this house. You will go insane if you do.

  14. RossRoss says: 2406 comments


    You wrote: NOTE TO ROSS: Do not buy this house. You will go insane if you do.

    I mentioned above that I was not planning to buy the house. My great lust notwithstanding.

    It might be argued that I am already insane.

  15. EricEric says: 150 comments
    OHD Supporter

    1918 Bunkhouse
    WestOfMiddleOfNowhere, KS

    Ross. I have known you for at least 20 years. Your are at risk. Do not buy this house. Call or email me.

  16. RossRoss says: 2406 comments


    The owner let the listing expire.

    So the house is now in limbo.

    I watch it daily.

  17. RossRoss says: 2406 comments
    OHD Supporter

    1894 QueenAnneFreeClassic
    Emporia, KS

    I have discovered a near twin to the house, and both are without question by the same architect.

    The second house, a few block west, has never been converted into apartments, so it can offer an invaluable service: a template for replicating missing bits.

    The plan of the second house is flipped.

    Notably, the house in this thread had the opening between the LR and DR blocked over, and a kitchen and bath inserted between the two rooms.

    But in the listing below, you can see what the original opening likely looked like (image #7):


    NOTE: My realtor has the listing on the second house. Lacie Hamlin, and her contact number is 620 481-0213

  18. RossRoss says: 2406 comments
    OHD Supporter

    1894 QueenAnneFreeClassic
    Emporia, KS


    After not selling at the previous listing price of $49K, and then going dormant, the house has been relisted…at a whopping $95K!!!

    And NOTHING has been done! And the house is in even worse shape than it was a year ago!


    • John ShifletJohn Shiflet says: 4718 comments

      Ross, there’s a lot of turnover on the buyer side of the housing market. Most home buyers entering the market will find something to their satisfaction, arrange financing or pay cash and then remove themselves from the buyer’s pool. At the same time, others enter the market looking for their next home but back when this house was listed for $49k they had no idea of its price or existence. The intelligent house buyer may research a home’s market history and pick up on the change but enough buyers do not shop with due diligence that sometimes a zero investment flip for more money sells at the higher price. Others truly luck out and get an incredible bargain at a sheriff’s sale or property auction and put the property right back on the market for more money. Just for fun, if it does sell at the higher price please let me know. As for telling the buyers about their inflated purchase, I probably wouldn’t but that’s up to you. In some of the early California Gold Rush mining camps eggs sold for $2 each (a king’s ransom in those days) and other provisions were equally wildly inflated, but supplies were scarce and gold was plentiful. Not all the Gold Rush millionaires made their money from Gold. Since I’ve seen this house and its condition. I wish the current sellers good luck at this higher price.

      • RossRoss says: 2406 comments
        OHD Supporter

        1894 QueenAnneFreeClassic
        Emporia, KS

        John, the owner of the house lives out-of-state.

        He owns a lot of properties in Emporia. All are derelict.

        A bunch were put on the market last year. None sold.

        618 Union did get an offer, which the realtor thought was fair, but which the owner turned down.

        My impression is that the owner, for whatever reason, is not actually interested in selling anything.

        A house hoarder?

  19. Paul WPaul W says: 562 comments

    Ross please send house hoarder my way…I’d love to sell him some historic Knox Hill properties. Inflation is actually good for preservation as it scares the slumlords away!

  20. AvatarCliff Schlothauer says: 59 comments

    Last fall, my partner and I made a trip to Emporia KS to see 831 Constitution that was on OHD. Lovely home, but did not speak to me. We met Ross, had a great time. He showed this home to me. I fell in love with it. Despite the condition, it is a great house. In my quest to find a different place to live, I decided on Emporia, and Northern MS. Different, but I liked each one. Finally I am getting ready to move and make a new start. My distress has grown, because of the upward spike in the price of this house. Having saved/renovated homes of this caliber before, I have learned they must be purchased for a fair, in most cases low price for the amount of work and money invested. Because of this high price I have been looking for another home in Emporia. I have have not found anything else in Emporia that I like as much. The house next door is really fantastic. Ross said it might be for sale, but with this house (618 Union) in such poor condition it is a concern as to even purchase the house next door. In the mean time, I will keep an eye on it, just in case.

    • John ShifletJohn Shiflet says: 4718 comments

      Cliff, I think the problem here with the price is it being advertized as a “7 unit apartment” building. The assumption is that because you could expect a rental income stream from 7 units the higher price is justified. Given the explanations about the absentee owner as well as the estimated 7 unit rental income, it might be difficult to get much of a price reduction. If the structure were move in ready and only needed minor cosmetic work, I’d say it was priced fairly. But given it’s condition and the work that would be needed to make it function as a single family home again, maybe one half the asking price would be reasonable. Northern MS has many great old houses as well so it might be justified to look there. Wishing you good luck!

      • RossRoss says: 2406 comments

        John, there are numerous move-in ready multi-unit old house conversions in Emporia for less than $95K.

        You have seen this house, so well understand it is SO not move-in ready!

        The current ask is just fantasy.

        The old house across the street from my Cross House sold last year for $15K. It was long ago converted to multi-family, and was in move-in condition.

        • John ShifletJohn Shiflet says: 4718 comments

          Ross, I understand everything you’re saying but the seller holds all the cards and some sellers are reasonable and motivated to sell while others seem reluctant to sell and only at a pre-determined price and not for even a penny less. If you think the seller is open to offers then perhaps Cliff should reconsider.

    • RossRoss says: 2406 comments

      Hi again Cliff!

      I did not realize you liked this house so much!

      I would certainly suggest making an offer. The current ask of $95K is fantasy.

      Yes, the house next door (south) should be listed for sale this year. It is being foreclosed upon.

      We could be neighbors!!!!

  21. Paul WPaul W says: 562 comments

    My experience in buying old homes ( I’ve bought a couple of dozen over the years), is that most people will at least look at any offer. If you are buying house that needs considerable work and is multi unit. Its always helpful to determine if it was legally converted. Another thing to do is include in the offer that purchaser waives Home inspection and accepts the house “as-is” less any title issues. Most “investor types’ may be sitting on numerous properties and a well times offer is often accepted for far less than asking. Especially if you can close quickly.

    IF you happen to be cash buyer..cash is king. If you have to finance it, chance are the mortgage company is going to dictate terms and its all dependent on appraisal.

    The worse they can do is not respond, or they could counter. If the counter is unreasonable? Walk away and go on to the next house.

    I just sold a property for less that what I was advised by several realtors it was worth. Why? Because this buyer had money to do the work, will do a real restoration, plans on living in it, and ultimately benefit the value of other properties I own nearby.

    Never hurts to make an offer, the worst they can say is nothing.

  22. AvatarCliff Schlothauer says: 59 comments

    John and Ross, Thanks for the comments. John, you are right about the seller holding all the cards. Considering Emporia has a high number of rentals of all sorts, and move in price ranges, this poor house is in trouble. Ross, I e-mailed you at the Crosshouse.org site, when you have time, please e-mail me back. As you know, I really like the house to the south. If it goes up for sale with interior pics please share. Cliff

  23. AvatarCliff Schlothauer says: 59 comments

    Paul W. Thanks for adding some more thoughts for me. All excellent. Cliff

  24. RossRoss says: 2406 comments
    OHD Supporter

    1894 QueenAnneFreeClassic
    Emporia, KS


    This fabulous house is still empty.

    The owner, who lives in Texas, still presumably wants to sell the house.

    The house was first listed at $50K. I made a cash offer of $20K. The owner countered with $30K. But I did not have an extra $10K.

    I have no idea what the owner might now accept. But my own big house has since sucked up all my cash (as big houses do).

  25. RossRoss says: 2406 comments
    OHD Supporter

    1894 QueenAnneFreeClassic
    Emporia, KS

    I can confirm that this fabulous house sold at a county tax sale tonight for $5500.

    My high bid was $5,000. I just didn’t have more right now.

    The new owner, based on numerous other properties he owns, will not likely restore the house.

    I feel very sad tonight.


  26. John ShifletJohn Shiflet says: 4718 comments

    Disappointing to hear, Ross. We sincerely appreciated you showing us this house during our visit in Emporia. It had tremendous potential as a restoration project but needed considerable help. My concern now is some Average Joe Remodeler will proceed to try to make this house look like it was built yesterday and all the glorious clear finished millwork and trim will be slathered with white paint. (if not ripped out and discarded) I know tax sales vary from state to state-does the $5.5k winning bid convey absolute ownership and deed? In Indiana for example the successful tax sale bidder cannot do anything with the property for a 1 year redemption period during which the former owner has the right to pay all back taxes and interest to reacquire property ownership. For the tax sale buyer to fully own the property after the 1 year period, he or she must hire an attorney and follow certain legal procedures and paperwork before they can do anything with their property. Sad indeed if this interesting period home has now fallen into the wrong hands.

    • RossRoss says: 2406 comments
      OHD Supporter

      1894 QueenAnneFreeClassic
      Emporia, KS

      The high bidder will receive a clear title in 30 days, unless there is a Federal lien. Which this house did not have.

      All back taxes are waived, and all old liens are broken. High bidder must only pay 2016 taxes.

      The only worry is that the owner COULD legally contest the sale, by filing suit, and has one year to do so.

      It is doubtful however that they would prevail in court, and would thus have to pay court costs. The only way to win such a case is if the county did not send out notifications to the owner.

      The timing of this was unfortunate. I could have bid much higher next month. Sigh.

  27. John ShifletJohn Shiflet says: 4718 comments

    Thanks for that information, Ross. That is one lucky bidder but not so for the historic house.

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