1886 Queen Anne – Wichita, KS

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National Register
Added to OHD on 12/8/15   -   Last OHD Update: 11/3/19   -   87 Comments

1065 N Waco Ave Wichita, KS 67203

  • $50,000
  • 7 Bed
  • 3.5 Bath
  • 5216 Sq Ft
  • 0.24 Ac.
Subject is registered with the local, state and National Historic Registry. Any repairs made subject must be in compliance with the Historic Registry. The subject is formally known as the Sternberg Mansion. Due to the potentially unsound nature of the structure, seller requires that any person or persons entering the property is (are) at their own risk and must provide a signed hold harmless agreement to listing agent prior to scheduling showing and/or accessing the property.
Contact Information
Su H Fox, Fox Realty,
316-681-1313


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85 Comments on 1886 Queen Anne – Wichita, KS

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  1. RossRoss says: 2524 comments
    OHD Supporter

    1894 QueenAnneFreeClassic
    Emporia, KS

    Thanks Kelly!

    This is such a fabulous house, but not a project for the cash-strapped or faint of heart.

    I did a very long blog post on the house, with a ton of information, and more images:

    http://restoringross.com/can-this-house-be-saved-the-sternberg-mansion/

    Old House Dreams receives a million page views per month (congrats Kelly!!!!) and I hope a brave, visionary soul falls in love with this beauty.

    1
    • John Shiflet says: 5392 comments

      Thanks for sharing the additional photos and narrative, Ross. This house was for a while the “poster” child for Victorian homes in Wichita and previously appeared as I recall in an Old House Journal magazine. I’m stunned and greatly saddened to see it in this current condition. Besides the wonderful 1880’s details, I see as well some early 1900’s details like the entry door, leaded glass transom, and side light. The mantel with the oval mirror as well as the dining room paneling/wainscoting are also from this later period. Any prospective buyer should assume this house is in the “good bones” category and is not suitable for a renovation/restoration attempted on the cheap. In fact, a top to bottom full restoration could be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars range so old house bargain hunters on tight budgets should avoid this one. It also has protective preservation covenants so exterior repairs must maintain the original details. I wish the next owners the best and eagerly await to see post-restoration photos. This is one of Wichita’s most important Victorian era landmarks.

      1
      • Karen Longo says: 76 comments

        John Shiflet, I know you have said before, but I have forgotten–in what town in Texas do you live?
        Karen in central Mississippi

        • John Shiflet says: 5392 comments

          My spouse and I live in Fort Worth, Texas in a Victorian house we bought back in 1989. (Fyi, currently on the market but not germane to this communication) How may I be of help?

          • Karen Longo says: 76 comments

            I tried to send you a private message but didn’t get through. Was gonna ask you about Waxahachie and other surrounding small towns in your area.
            Karen
            kclongogirl@bellsouth.net

            • John Shiflet says: 5392 comments

              Hmm…I did reply to your email in the past couple of days. Anyhow, I’ll try again and will be happy to provide information about local towns and historic homes. Look for a reply shortly.

    • Cora says: 2030 comments

      Yay! It made it to OHD!

      I drove by this house while in Kansas last week. Poor old girl, but still such a beauty.

      Ross, you are THE BEST.

    • Iliana says: 1 comments

      I’m attempting to get the money for this house but it’s taking me a painfully long time. I’ve been told that it’s gonna take me three more weeks to a month to get the money I need. I do understand of the fixing it needs and I understand all of the historical meaning and what it needs done. I’m only hoping someone else doesn’t buy it before I receive my money. I can’t even sleep at night just thinking of how beautiful it will be when I’m finished with it. I’m so excited. I’m constantly counting the dollar amounts it’s gonna take and then imagining what it will look like. I plan to make it once again the historical splendor it once was and deserves to be again.
      iliana

      • Belyndae Johanningsmeier says: 4 comments

        Are you saying you have already signed a contract with the bank and are planning on the restoration phase rather than doing a a remodeling which would violate the Historic Registrations?

        1
  2. Ann says: 100 comments

    How pretty it must have been in the day. Lovely fireplaces and wood work. That foundation and basement scares me. We are going through something like that right now, and it’s just crumbing away inside the basement like this one.

    • RossRoss says: 2524 comments
      OHD Supporter

      1894 QueenAnneFreeClassic
      Emporia, KS

      The foundation is NOT crumbling.

      A ton of work has been completed on the foundation, and this is obvious when touring the basement.

      The house feels very solid and straight. There are no cracks in the interior, and no cracks to the exterior foundation.

      The house also has a new roof, and at least one chimney has been rebuilt.

      • RossRoss says: 2524 comments
        OHD Supporter

        1894 QueenAnneFreeClassic
        Emporia, KS

        The listing states:

        “Due to the potentially unsound nature of the structure”

        The issues are:

        1) The front porch, which is missing about half its flooring.

        2) The basement stair is gone, and one has to use a scary ladder.

        That is it.

      • Ken says: 10 comments

        Hello . . . as the “most recent owner” of the Sternberg Mansion I had three structural engineering reports done for the property and the structural engineer was of the opinion that the foundation was at almost 100% failure. Exterior foundation walls have simply crumbled and fallen away as the limestone and mortar have dissolved and those walls that are still standing are of little structural value to the house. It’s an incredibly sad situation for arguably the grandest dame from in Wichita from the 1800s but . . . Certainly the house is repairable but in my opinion the simply needs to be replaced. Hard to understand I had applied for and received approximately $85,000 in grant funds to work on the foundation of this house, but due to a variety of issues including multiple break-ins and thefts of construction equipment as well as contractors failing to maintain insurance, work was progressing slower than expected and when I asked the Wichita Historic Preservation Board for a letter of extension on the grant (which is a common procedure with grants and properties like this) instead they (the Wichita Historic Preservation Board) sent a letter requesting cancellation of the grants and so all of the $85,000 in grant funding for Sternberg Mansion was lost.

        • Ross says: 2524 comments

          Hi Ken,

          It is so nice to meet you!

          I am confused though, because the foundation appears to have had a ton of expensive work done.

          • RossRoss says: 2524 comments
            OHD Supporter

            1894 QueenAnneFreeClassic
            Emporia, KS

            Hi Ken,

            Upon reviewing my many images (and reviewing my memory), I am even more confused.

            The exterior foundation looks great. I was there with two other people, and they both also commented on the great condition of the exterior foundation.

            I was the only one who ventured into the basement. One corner had missing stone. Some perimeter walls needed pointing, but I saw no bowed walls or anything indicating issues I have not seen many many times. The interior brick walls looked good, and some looked brand new.

            I feel kinda foolish stating all this, as you obviously know the house intimately, but I also am well acquainted with old houses and foundations. Nothing I saw about the foundation gave me alarm.

            Walking upstairs, we all commented on how solid the house felt. The floors did not feel sloped. There are no cracks to any interior walls.

            • Paul W says: 539 comments

              Certain limestone and sandstone foundations when exposed to water for decades begin to deteriorate often from the outside inward so what might present itself as a ‘decent wall” is, in fact, seriously deteriorated.

              The “fix” in this case would be to I-beam the house, jack it up and then build a new block foundation under it. Now while that may seem extreme it has been done a lot on the east coast after the last hurricane. With most of that work done I’m guessing some of those contractors may be hungry. Still as proposition a new foundation wall wont be cheap. One could consider a pressure treated foundation system or even a pre fab concrete wall system. Realistically you are looking at 75-100K for such a project. However the alternative is to build internal walls and then excavate a section at a time from the outside and build a new foundation in 8-10 sections. Either scenario is not something the average homeowner could do.

              Frankly given its less than desirable location and the foundation is shot, it might be better to move it to a better location and recoup some costs by selling the lot which likely has commercial value.

        • Cora says: 2030 comments

          I agree – from the photos it looks as if the foundation repair work has been done. On the realtor.com listing, there are extensive photos of the basement and supports therein.

          For some reason this particular house just breaks my heart (more than most!). I want to see her as she once was. In person. I just know there’s a millionaire out there somewhere who can’t resist a damsel in distress!

          • Ken Elliott says: 10 comments

            The foundation repair work is not done. All of the floor braces that are there are temporary and they are there in lieu of foundation walls! Those interior and exterior walls that are there quite literally have stones and mortar falling out at an alarming rate. I had two structural engineers examine the foundation (3 and 4 years ago) and had three different reports from them all detailing that for foundational purposes, the foundation had reached the end of it’s useful life. One of the structural engineers told me that what he suspected was keeping the house together was the notion that the house (that portion above the foundation) was well built and the house itself was holding itself together, vs. our normal notion that a foundation is what holds the house up. Ultimately who knows, but I can’t see how a whole new foundation would be anything but fairly imperative for this lovely old structure ~

            I would be happy to assist in any effort to restore this important property if it were to be open to the public. I would not support private ownership of this property in the future.

  3. BethanyBethany says: 3322 comments
    OHD Supporter

    1983 White elephant
    Escondido, CA

    Oh what a shame. How could this have been allowed to happen. I wish I could be it’s savior.

  4. John Whyman says: 15 comments

    No pictures of the bathrooms nor kitchen. Those are critical imho because too many people ruin the consistency of historical homes with modern design in those rooms.

    • RossRoss says: 2524 comments
      OHD Supporter

      1894 QueenAnneFreeClassic
      Emporia, KS

      The kitchen is wholly from the late 1970s, as is the one intact bath.

      Neither has a single redeeming feature, and would require a total gut.

      This should be expected for the asking price.

  5. Will says: 63 comments

    A sad house.

  6. Lrpuglove says: 6 comments

    What a beautiful mess.

  7. Michael Mackin says: 2043 comments

    The house looks in pretty good shape, considering the asking price. It’s what I don’t see that gives me hope for this house. I don’t see any rotted fascia, sagging porches or leaking roofs. The crime scene tape in the one room is appropriate, considering they removed the fireplace. I’m guessing that will be your biggest expense, considering the cost of masonry work! I would have to think Ross is spot on. The house is solid and straight!

  8. says: 5 comments

    Neat house! I’m having a little trouble thinking of the investment across the street from a strip mall. Could be gorgeous, but no way to ever get your $ back. Have to be someone who wants to live there until the end.

    • RossRoss says: 2524 comments
      OHD Supporter

      1894 QueenAnneFreeClassic
      Emporia, KS

      I agree Ghia.

      The immediate area is the big issue with the house. Just to the west though, and to the east, are lovely historic neighborhoods.

      But this house is now on a largely commercial street. I could deal with that however, and like the proximity to downtown.

      For me, I would only buy this house if I could also acquire the house behind it, which is the original carriage house.

      There is more to life than just making money, and for the right person, this could be an amazing, fascinating project. Had I not purchased a big old house in 2014, I would seriously consider this damsel in distress.

      • Ken Elliott says: 10 comments

        Hello again Ross . . . I am the owner of the original carriage house for the Sternberg Mansion (the gray house to the west. I have a TON of information pertaining to the Main House, the Carriage House and the Sternbergs including extremely rare photos of the Sternberg and in fact the only known photo of W.H. Sternberg in the U.S. (w/ his 1st wife Catherine). I saw a comment from someone about re-building one of the stained glass windows, however I wanted to let you know that if it’s the window I think you are referring to I have the entire window in my possession and am happy to give it back. I took it because the house has been burglarized and vandalized so many times that I didn’t want it to disappear. Please contact me when you are ready for that window (the one for the south window in the southeast bedroom).

    • This is why I can’t let my heart run away with a local house posted here recently; it could be sooo amazing and it’s two blocks from the town square and the oft-photographed county courthouse, but it’s also situated directly across from the county jail. I wouldn’t have hesitated if I were by myself but I have a little one at home…

      • KSCwgrl says: 1 comments

        This house is NOT across from the county jail. The jail is several blocks to the South.

      • Ken Elliott says: 10 comments

        I’m not sure there’s a “town square” really in Wichita, but at any rate this home is closer to a mile away from the oft-photographed County Courthouse and it’s not directly across from the County jail either (the old one or the new one). This home is at 1065 N. Waco Avenue. The County Courthouse is on the 500 block of north Main. The old jail is also on the 500 block of north main. In any case it is an absolutely amazing home!!

        • lara janelara jane says: 565 comments

          I don’t think anyone is actually reading my comment!

          I guess I have to break it down:
          My reply was to Ghia & Ross with regard to the location. I said, “This (location) is why I can’t let my heart run away with a LOCAL (to me!) house posted here recently…” THAT house is in Carthage, Missouri, it is most certainly across from the county jail and it is two blocks from the famous Jasper County Courthouse on the square. 🙂

  9. Connie in Hartwood says: 13 comments

    Ross’s photo of the black Eastlake mantle with the fluted columns stopped me in my tracks. It is IDENTICAL to one that I bought at a flea market years ago, stripped, painted, and installed as a fake in the way-too-large master bedroom of a new house that we lived in at the time. The one in this house is in way better condition than the one that I used to have.

  10. sunflower & poppy says: 52 comments

    Amazing looking house — very complex story regarding missing interior elements, but certainly could be pieced back together if the determination and know-how was there in a new owner. Good that the foundation work has been done and a roof, but it will be extraordinarily expensive to restore properly nonetheless — the price is therefore right! Less than that would be even more right and you would still lose money — but hey what a fab house– no?! Detracting from the setting would be the new strip mall directly across the street — but if you don’t mind that sort of thing it could be viewed as very conveniently located!

  11. JimHJimH says: 4867 comments
    OHD Supporter

    Obviously this was a fabulous house in 1886, probably just as nice though altered when remodeled in 1904. In 1920 it was converted to apartments, followed by 60 years of exploitation. Owners since 1978 returned the house to single family use, removed the asphalt siding, stripped the paint off the woodwork and installed some salvaged parts, then subdivided off the carriage house as a rental. Another underfunded restoration attempt and foreclosure created the current condition, although a new roof was installed.
    So basically the house has been treated rudely for over 100 years by a dozen owners. The original mantels are lost, except the one Connie likes. As Ross observed, all of the trim has been removed or altered, and the newel lost. Any vintage kitchen or bath parts are long gone. Fortunately, the exterior has retained most of its very old if not all original detail.
    While most would agree that that house should be “saved”, there are different ways this house could be “restored”. The traditional Historic Preservation approach is to restore a reasonable facsimile of the exterior with original materials as far as possible. The interior then is maintained or altered to provide a sustainable use. Since a B&B or museum probably won’t fly here, making the house livable by any means would seem to be the most feasible plan. That’s what they did in the ‘80’s and the NRHP photos from 1988 show a nice family home that doesn’t look too bad:
    http://focus.nps.gov/AssetDetail/NRIS/89000387

  12. That single painted porch gable gives me hope.

  13. MW says: 841 comments

    Doesn’t seem like it was too horrible in that 1975 photo. But obviously has taken a major slide downhill since then. Those Kansas winters have not been too easy on the old girl. Seems kind of a blessing that it isn’t more stripped out than it already is.

  14. Paul W says: 539 comments

    Potential here. Someone did n a lot of work with footing and brick walls in the basement, and that work looks OK but I’m still seeing a lot of steel posts. This is one case where I’d recommend an engineering inspection report because I suspect there is some more work needed down there.

    Some nice details , as other have said location is problematic, but might work for an antique shop or art gallery and live above the shop.

  15. Sandra says: 324 comments

    Spot the pigeon. 🙂

  16. Belyndae Johanningsmeier says: 4 comments

    The house is historic. Is it on the registers for state? Is it eligible for funding resources and grants for rebuilding?

  17. Kathy McClure says: 1 comments

    Ross I lived in that house wsy back in the late 60s and 70s. My mother sold it, it was then renovated. When I have the opportunity to drive by it breaks my heart to see it in such shape. It was a beautiful home when we lived there, and it’s sad that it’s just falling apart.

  18. Belyndae Johanningsmeier says: 4 comments

    Ross, Knowing we many local artisans who work in wood and have brought many exhibits such as Cowtown back I am sure grants could be used to restore this home, but I would wonder if the Historic Preservation is searching for 1886 Sternberg, or 1920 Sternberg or 1960 Sternberg because of each owners adaptation before the declaration of Historic value? The main concern I see presently is replacing the paint green and white before wood rot, the fireplace, before to much interior damage and saving the sandstone foundation before it all goes to steel. But as far as the records, a bank is listed as the owner so has it been foreclosed, under short sale, cash only? I think she is to tall to move to Cowtown for safety. Belyndae

  19. Belyndae Johanningsmeier says: 4 comments

    Ross,
    I got to looking at some of the earlier pictures you published of this home I noticed you were correct on the wall where the boy and dolphin had been. It was on the left side in the 1969 newspaper article, but not the right side. Also, the fireplace in the dining room went to the ceiling with its molding and mirror. Very good work furnishing all of the details you have especially for someone like myself who loves the historic details in Wichita and would like to try to restore this home. Thank you.
    Belyndae

  20. athena says: 1 comments

    i walked by this house every day when i was in high school in the early 70s it was such a beautiful house. it just breaks my heart to see it like this. i really hope some one can restore it back to her beauty.

  21. Jeannie says: 1 comments

    That is by far the most amazing house, the detail work, the fire places and amazing leaded Windows. It has the most amazing potential. Granted the area where it is is not the best for security. I hope to see it all fixed up and I hope someone will take it on. I used to live over off back bay Blvd and used to walk by all the time in complete awe of that place.

  22. Loves Old Houses says: 1 comments

    The foundation is crumbling and the footing for the center chimney and NE chimney are failing. The exterior APPEARS to be in good condition because there is a thin stone that is placed in front of the original wall. The walls that have been repaired were dug deeper than the original foundation which was unnecessary and further increases the chance of collapse. The new roof installed has no flashing at the top and allows water to run beneath the shingles rather than over them. By allowing the collapsed chimney on the south side to be exposed to the elements and the missing window next to it, black mold is present in the roof and walls. The property was recently “professionally” cleaned up and original porch posts and Newell posts were thrown away. Also thrown away were the furnace and all duct work. The originality of this house continues to be stripped from it, most recently at the time it went into foreclosure.

    • RossRoss says: 2524 comments
      OHD Supporter

      1894 QueenAnneFreeClassic
      Emporia, KS

      In my tour of the house, the exterior foundation looked in excellent condition.

      There are no cracks in any of the exterior walls, or interior walls (indicating foundation issues).

      The floors did not seem sloped. Doors open and close properly.

      In the basement, there appears to be new (or rebuilt) interior foundation walls. The perimeter foundations are not bowed in.

      Yes, the porch roofs are not flashed where they kiss the walls, but this is not hard to remedy.

      Yes, the roof needs to be closed where the missing chimney was (evident in images).

      Does the house have issues? Certainly, and this is reflected in the price.

      This is a WAY cool house deserving of a savior.

    • Cora says: 2030 comments

      Issues and all, she’s still a stunning old girl worthy of fixing. If I had the money (and if I didn’t work in east Tennessee), this house would be MINE. I wouldn’t even mind the neighborhood. It is very close to downtown, and not far from the river and museums. I was in Kansas last week and took a drive through the area. This home should be saved.

      Let me say that again:

      This. Home. Should. Be. Saved.

      It’s true she needs a lot of love. I’ve looked at this post almost every night, watching for a sincere person with the knowledge and resources to come forward and reassure me they’ll bring her back.

      Fingers crossed. 🙂

      1
  23. Bachy says: 1 comments

    I drive by this house almost daily and wonder myself how it deteriorated so badly. Isn’t it the one that a City/County Commissioner and her husband restored 20 or 30 years ago? I want to say Sallly Dewey, but don’t know if that is right.

  24. Gregory Hubbard says: 446 comments

    This looks like a George Barber House. I need to check my references, but that cascade of porches is so typical of his design work.
    Greg

    • Ken Elliott says: 10 comments

      Admittedly it does have some resemblance to G. Barber homes, but I can assure you that this is not. It was designed and built by William Henry Sternberg. There are many Sternberg-designed homes still around (both in Kansas and New York). And another commercial structure in Missouri built by W.H. Sternberg.

  25. John Shiflet says: 5392 comments

    Greg, the only problem with that hypothesis is that George Barber did not begin his architectural career until 1888. Because this house has been a preservation focal point for many years, I assume the 1886 date is accurate. (I also believe the architect is known) There were later changes to the house but although the house bears some resemblance to Barber’s designs, not likely he had a hand in its design or later changes. Barber did live for a few years on a relative’s farm near Ft. Scott, Kansas, so he may have seen this house when freshly built. Its possible the design stuck in his memory and was incorporated in some of his works. His first house plan publication in 1888 of 18 house designs-many of them very ornate-was printed on card stock tied together with a string. At that time he was still residing in his native DeKalb, IL but moved that year to Knoxville, TN where he resided until he passed away in 1915.

  26. Gemma says: 1 comments

    I love driving by this home, and when it sold several years back there was so much hope buzzing around for a full restoration. I’m not sure who was involved in rebuilding 1255 N. River Blvd after the fire, but they did a fantastic job, and maybe they can offer some advice.

    • Ken Elliott says: 10 comments

      When I purchased this house in 2004, I really didn’t hear any “buzz” from anyone that anyone cared one way or the other who got it or what was going to happen with it. And ya know it really would have been nice to know that there was some support from the community on this. I did hear lots of people say, “oh I love this house and it should be saved and it’s the most beautiful house I’ve ever seen…” and on and on. I didn’t buy this as a home for myself . . . I bought it because if someone didn’t buy it and TRY to do something with it, it was going to be demolished by the City of Wichita. When I purchased this in 2004, it had been in the pipeline for demolition (by the City of Wichita) for about a year. I didn’t know how much longer the old gal (the house) was going to last honestly as the north chimney column was so structurally unstable . . . it was horrifying! One evening about 2 weeks after I purchased it I was in the Main Dining Room and working trying to remove the mantle so that we could so work on the chimney and bricks and sand were falling out of the chimney column down into the fireplace and the wallpaper on either side of the firebox was crackling and I couldn’t figure out why it was crackling so I stood back and just watched it and you could SEE movement in the wall around the firebox. The limestone wall on the back of the flue had sheared / peeled off about 4 inches from settling and several places refused to even take it down (or attempt to stabilize it – or even touch it) for fear of collapse. Well we got it down without it collapsing and saved all the bricks out of it and cleaned them all. But before that we video taped the whole chimney column and photographed it and counted all the rows of bricks and then built it back (on a foundation this time around) with cinder block filled with concrete and re-bar on the inside and the original bricks in their original location on the outside. So it looks exactly the same with the same bricks that came out of it only now it’s rated strong enough for an F3 tornado. No one ever said “good job”. That project was $35,000. But I persisted and conducted on-line campaigns to raise money for the house and over the course of 10 years we collected about $700 – whoop-di-dew! I struggled and struggled to get any kind of support (at all) from the community to save this historic property. I held “Community Restoration Weekends” (twice) thinking that people may prefer to donate sweat equity rather than money and out of about 20 persons the first time who had signed up to come on Saturday morning . . . Not a one of them (not one) ever showed up the whole weekend. There was just absolutely NO community support to rehab this old property, despite all the people saying how much they love it. I even had one guy who’s grandparents had lived in this house call me and also stop by and say he would dearly love to take a tour of the property to which I said I would be happy to do but we’re also trying to raise money to fix it up and asked him if he’d be willing to donate $10 for the tour . . . both times he declined and he never got a tour. TEN DOLLARS!!!!!!!!!! The Historic Midtown Citizens Association gave me “grief” when I opened this house up for “historic tours” as they felt I was “competing” with them and their October “Midtown Walking Tour” even though we held these tours in May or June. And I have to say I think their irritation with me and opening the Sternberg up for tours exemplifies the “small-mindedness” of may in Wichita who look at things like this as a zero sum game. Apparently the Historic Midtown Citizens Association feels that any other homes being open at any time of the year reduces the number of people at their tour in October. However my feeling is the more people we can get to come to Midtown and get excited about seeing this old homes the more those people want to move to the area and buy homes and then go and look at other homes and then they bring friends to the next tour and it grows! We need to open MORE of these old homes to the public . . . NOT LESS! I had planned to renovate this house and open it up to the public as there’s a lot of very cool information about Wichita and the Sternbergs that I think would be fascinating to people and this would be Wichita’s only Historic House Museum, but frankly there was no support for the renovation. So I thought, if there’s no support now for anyone to give $10 or $20 to renovate it, how many people would be willing to spend $10 for a tour later on? Ultimately I was successful in getting $85,000 in grant funds for the property, but those funds were cancelled by the Wichita Historic Preservation Board, through no fault of my own and NONE of the grant money was ever put into the property. This I think is a major tragedy for historic preservation in Wichita when the Wichita Historic Preservation Board is requesting cancellation of FREE money for Wichita’s 1st historic property. Vicki Churchman, Rachelle Pulkkila (formerly Rachelle Ablah) and Claire Willenburg were the primary ones who all voted “no” to keep the grant funding for it. Everywhere I turned there was no support to restore this gem. There was no money from the community. There was no workers. Everyone wanted an arm and a freaking leg to do anything and honestly no one every offered any discount to do work on this property. Everyone always wanted (and got) full price. On-line campaigns were tantamount to pulling teeth to get any funds. But that said, had I not purchased the property (or had someone not purchased the property) and fixed the north chimney column, the City of Wichita would have moved forward with the demolition proceedings and the house would be (by now) gone. So thanks to me it’s still here and still ready and waiting for someone with deep deep pockets to do a full renovation. I don’t have those deep pockets. My plan always was to get support from the community to to restore it and the to open it up to the public and also to use its restoration as a spark for further renovation and community development in the Midtown area. I think the lack of any further plans / community development / further rehabilitation when it the outside of it was rehabilitated by the City of Wichita in 1976 is one reason it quickly fell back into decline – there was no follow-up after it was completed. It was a bright spot in the middle of urban decline. When I purchased this house in 2004 it was difficult. The bank would not give me a loan on it unless I also took a construction loan to address the structural issues. Additionally the bank gave a condition of “poor” to the property and they don’t lend on “poor” condition properties . . . it has to be at least in “Fair” condition or higher, so I worked with the bank to convince them that the condition did meet “Fair” and then I was able to get the loan. Everything about this house was more difficult than I expected. Just working with the sellers agent took over a year! Everything about this house was more expensive that I thought it should have been and insurance didn’t cover any of it. No one was willing to work on it at anything less than market rates simply so we could save it and while I can appreciate that there was buzz and excitement for its renovation all I ever met with was roadblocks – everywhere. I was in the kitchen one night painting after I got home from work with my paint clothes on and the police knocked at my door, so I went to the door and they arrested me and took me to jail for “environmental deficiencies” . . . environmental deficiencies, ALL of which I discovered were extant when I got the property. I was fined thousands of dollars for not doing enough work fast enough, despite the fact that I spent probably $200,000 dollars on it over the course of my ownership. In my estimation the house likely needs 3 million dollars to really bring it back. Grants were cancelled. There was no community support and ultimately I realized I was fighting a losing battle. It is by anyone’s standards a phenomenal house. I still love it and will always love it and I will never again ever have a home so beautiful in my life, but . . . as the most recent owner of this property I have to say . . . despite what people say, there was a huge lack of support to restore this house (from the community). In 1887 at the height of one of the biggest economic booms in U.S. history – if not the biggest, the people voted on the 10 most beautiful homes in Wichita and the Sternberg was voted as one of those ten most beautiful. The City then created a flyer with pictures of the ten homes on it (I have copies of that flyer) and sadly of the ten homes that were the pride and joy of Wichitans then the other NINE of those “most beautiful homes” have been demolished. Sternberg actually designed and built EIGHT of those ten home that were “the most beautiful” and his home is the only one still standing and again had I not stepped in and purchased when I did, it too would now be gone. I suspect that the City will again quietly place this home back into the demolition track because it doesn’t meet housing standards and in 3 – 5 years from now I suspect it will be gone and if not by the City then from vagrants who break in and set it on fire or by out and out collapse – the foundation still needs major work. I would be happy to work with anyone and everyone on the renovation / restoration of this property and if ever there were a house to be saved . . . This is the one! This was the most expensive house that Sternberg ever built for himself and his building designs and techniques were very unique. In fact I have identified (by design alone) other structures in Wichita that I confirmed later through research were in fact Sternberg designs. Sternberg created unique architectural designs here in the Midwest that were as well-loved in 1886 as they are today. We should not be complacent about our historic properties!! We have unique historic properties here in the Midwest that are worthy of showcasing to the entire country.

      1
      • RossRoss says: 2524 comments
        OHD Supporter

        1894 QueenAnneFreeClassic
        Emporia, KS

        Ken,

        It was extraordinary reading of your experience with the house, particularly as it contrasts so vividly with my experience of a comparable home in Emporia, just north a bit.

        Emporia is MUCH smaller than Wichita. The community has been amazingly supportive. City Hall has been graciousness personified. Contractors WANT to work on the house, and they take great pride in their work (and like showing off their work to family members!). As such, the quotes I receive are always lower than expected.

        I have an annual party for everybody working on the house.

        The grant I received (see comments below) was a TON of paperwork but I am thrilled, thrilled, thrilled to receive it. And honored.

        The bank I used went WAY out on a limb to finance the house (which was not habitable). I am still in shock that they said yes (thank goodness for small town banks!), and the whole process was almost effortless.

        I do not mean to suggest that owning a huge 1894 home requiring a scary amount of work is nothing but a bed of roses, but my overall experience has been extremely positive. Indeed, buying the house is the best thing I have ever done in my life. I love the house, and the whole process.

  27. RossRoss says: 2524 comments
    OHD Supporter

    1894 QueenAnneFreeClassic
    Emporia, KS

    My realtor told me today that the house is under contract.

    I am crossing my fingers that the contract will close, that the buyer is preservation minded, and has the funds (and knowledge) to do a careful restoration.

    Crossing my fingers!

    (Did Iliana, who commented above, buy it?)

  28. LUCINDA HOWARD says: 238 comments

    I think it would be wonderful fun to be able to travel from state to state and see what happens to these spectacular old homes after they are sold. So many times someone says they are trying to buy it, etc.. and then silence. When they do sell we OHD nuts never have anymore information.

  29. Kelly, OHDKelly, OHD says: 11723 comments
    Admin

    1901 Folk Victorian
    Chestatee, GA

    Showing back as active, reduced $50,000.

  30. Paul W says: 539 comments

    Ken,It is always harder to deal with city officials and grant money. Contractors always Bid high (because of the aggravation of the city a historic boards). I generally recommend to my client to steer clear of grants , because it ALWAYS cost more in the end. Yours is a cautionary tale of how good intentions go bad when dealing with city governments. I still say given location, sell the land, move the house and put it on a brand new foundation is the best approach. I just hope someone with deep pockets comes along.

    • RossRoss says: 2524 comments
      OHD Supporter

      1894 QueenAnneFreeClassic
      Emporia, KS

      I received a $90K state grant for my house on the National Register.

      It was a lot of paperwork but I am thrilled!

      My estimates were not high, and the contractors love working on such a great old house.

    • Ken Elliott says: 10 comments

      The sad thing is that these historic homes (if they’re on a historic register) are intended to be saved and maintained as they were (at least on the outside) for the benefit of the public. But for that there is really nothing of much assistance from the public (i.e., the City of Wichita) to assist in this saving and/or maintaining. From my standpoint the Wichita Historic Preservation Board has utterly failed to come up with any programs that benefit historic properties. Sure there are some improvement programs out there (from the City of Wichita) but those apply to ANY structure in a certain area or in a certain condition and historic homes frequently have other / additional issues than non-historic homes (i.e., they are older than other homes and materials need to match and etc). I was pretty impressed with the State of Kansas for coming up with the Heritage Trust Fund Grant program which takes 1% of all mortgage registration fees and uses those to benefit historic properties. 1% is not much. If the State can do something like this, surely the City of Wichita can find . . . SOMETHING to help as well if not several things. There are SO many different ways I can think of to create programs to benefit historic properties in the Wichita area, I am at a loss (other than the WHPB is simply afraid to venture out of their tower on the 10th floor of City Hall) to know why they haven’t done more . . . At any rate, I believe Paul that you are correct that contractors always bid high because of the aggravation of the city and historic boards – and let’s not forget the code inspectors which can get ridiculously nit-picky if the choose to. I do and would caution anyone who’s considering “working” with the Wichita Historic Preservation Board to think seriously about this. On the flip side while doing all of this I did find a group of people in Wichita who really were very very helpful in so many ways but unfortunately by the time I found out about this I had already lost the grants (thanks to Vicki Churchman, Rachelle Pulkkila and Claire Willenberg of the Wichita Historic Preservation Board). It almost seemed to me that they were the Batman and Robin of historic properties in Wichita and the Historic Preservation Department and the Wichita Historic Preservation Board were the villains of Gotham City. At least these three individuals were certainly spearheading the cancellation of the grants for the Sternberg House and all three of them voted to cancel the grants! When it comes to historic properties in Wichita I find it hard to fathom how WHPB can turn down FREE MONEY to an important historic property that very much needs the money. To me it seems like that very antithesis of historic preservation board and I question whether they should remain on the Board if they don’t or won’t support our historic properties . . . At any rate, I appreciate your input and hope very much that a plan or a person can come together to restore the Sternberg Mansion. I remain willing and interested in participating in seeing this property saved and restored . . .

      1
  31. John Shiflet says: 5392 comments

    Ross, is this the long awaited stained glass restoration grant or something else? You’re lovely home is a temple to the art of stained glass. I hope every one of the windows are eventually restored to period perfection.

    • RossRoss says: 2524 comments
      OHD Supporter

      1894 QueenAnneFreeClassic
      Emporia, KS

      Hi John!

      The grant is paying for five things:

      1) Roofing all the secondary roofs
      2) Repairing all the built-in gutters
      3) Repairing the sill and siding issues
      4) Restoring about a dozen clear-glass windows
      5) Restoring about 3/4 of the 40 stained-glass windows.

      In two years I can apply again, and, if approved, the rest of the SG windows will get done, and more!

      The wealth of stained-glass in the house is, I agree, quite amazing. Even more amazing is that of the original 41 such windows, 40 remain. And I know where the missing one goes, what it looked like (I have its twin), and I plan to recreate it.

      • Ken Elliott says: 10 comments

        Contractors are much more inclined to do work above ground, especially where it’s not structural work like roof, windows and gutters. But I’ve spoken with a number of contractors on repairing the foundation of the Sternberg house and many told me they simply wouldn’t work in Wichita City limits due to the restrictive building codes. Others that were willing were very expensive requiring $30K – $50K just for “mobilization”. One of the problems with restoring old structures like the Sternberg Home are that there are not enough public resources to be of much help. A full renovation job exceeds (by a factor of about 100 time) the amount of grant funds available to do the work. Any private individual who buys this should plan putting a lot of his/her own money into it (2 – 3 million dollars which is about the same amount that the Lowry’s put into the Campbell Castle when they restored it). And realistically, too, that person should not expect to get most of that money back after renovation. The unfortunate part of this is we lack creative programs in Wichita that will really work to save and rehabilitate historic properties. Fact is, historic preservation in Wichita is still basically a private individual funding everything out of a love for the property and this is sad. The people who love these properties don’t have the financial means to do this and the people who have the means aren’t going to blow tons of cash knowing that the investment is a losing proposition from the get-go. In my opinion the City (specifically the Historic Preservation Office and the Wichita Historic Preservation Board) have failed to come up with real solutions that will help save these properties for the public for generations to come. Historic preservation (unfortunately) in Wichita is still primarily a privately-funded venture of love ~

        1
  32. John Shiflet says: 5392 comments

    Thanks for the information, Ross. You home has one of the largest numbers of stained glass windows I know of so being able to preserve all of them is exceptionally nice. I see the combination of you and the Cross house as the perfect preservation story. When its done, it will henceforth remain an enduring landmark in Emporia. BTW, did that 1906 Victorian in Oswatomie ever sell? It was such a time capsule inside and really deserved a caring owner.

  33. Cora says: 2030 comments

    Sigh. I was so hoping this amazing home had sold to a preservation-minded, old-house-loving hero.

    All of this talk about it possibly being slated for demolition is extremely upsetting to me.

    I wish there was something I could do besides sit here, 1200 miles away, wringing my hands and worrying.

  34. JimHJimH says: 4867 comments
    OHD Supporter

    This house is in roughly the same condition as the Hill House in Saginaw that we were worried about a couple of years ago. That house was on the precipice of destruction for many years. Then, against very long odds, new owners came along with commitment, skills and a 10 year plan to save and restore it. They’re into year 2 and making great progress.
    https://www.oldhousedreams.com/2014/09/02/1886-queen-anne-saginaw-mi/

    • Cora says: 2030 comments

      Jim, that gives me some hope. Thank you.

      For some reason Sternberg Mansion has a piece of my heart. I want to see it brought back to the days when it was the most beautiful home in Wichita.

      It is so sad to see it in it’s current condition.

      When I think of the folks who will spend 400k + to build a new, cookie cutter, beige, boring subdivision house, and then pay HOA fees forever…I just can’t understand it. Why not invest 400k + in this home (or others like it), and have something really beautiful and interesting?

      If it’s razed, I don’t want to know.

    • RossRoss says: 2524 comments
      OHD Supporter

      1894 QueenAnneFreeClassic
      Emporia, KS

      Hi Jim,

      I cannot find any updates on the Hill House in Saginaw. I found their Facebook page but there is scant info. And nothing on the Historic Saginaw site.

  35. RossRoss says: 2524 comments
    OHD Supporter

    1894 QueenAnneFreeClassic
    Emporia, KS

    Just received this update on my blog:

    “House sold to a contractor. He’s poured a new basement. Has just power washed the exterior (yikes) is going to repair exterior wood work, apply two coats oil based primer and a generic coat of paint in beige & grey. Has no plans to restore the inside. Will put it back on the market as is. Glad someones at least stepped up to keep it from demolition.”

    • Cora says: 2030 comments

      Thank you for posting this, Ross. I hope that maybe this will entice a potential old-house-loving, restoration-minded hero.
      Praying the intricate exterior details survived the bath!

      I love this house. <3

  36. Henry Sherwin says: 1 comments

    I’m currently working with newest owner of the Sternberg Mansion on coatings to rejuvenate the exterior. We have a fantastic system that will at the very least bring much needed improvements to the exterior. Much of the exterior is surprisingly in fantastic condition given what the house has been put through, however much of the intricate detail in the trim work especially higher up will need a lot of work.

  37. bradQ says: 1 comments

    HI, could someone tell me the contact information of the person trying to sell this house?

  38. John Shiflet says: 5392 comments

    Although I believe this is documented as a design by a local architect,(?) I found a remarkably similar planbook design (with a tower) from Grand Rapids architect Frank P. Allen: https://archive.org/stream/gri_artisticdwel00alle#page/n65/mode/2up
    I find it interesting how Victorian era architects frequently borrowed design ideas from each other. Today there would be copyright/design lawsuits flying for such similar designs but back then except for an exact copy, it seems almost anything was fair game.

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