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The pioneers who settled along the northeastern border of Kansas in the 1850's found timber and stone with which to build their homes. They set up log cabins or simple one-room houses of stone. Less often they built tent-shaped structures of poles thatched with grass, called "hay houses." These were little more than "straws in the wind" and were abandoned as soon as possible, but they served their purpose as easily and quickly erected buildings. The first church services in Lawrence were held in a hay house.

The settlers who pushed westward to the treeless Plains found no stone, while the only timber was scrubby willow and cottonwood along the shallow streams. Thus they were forced to build with the only material available the earth itself. The dugout, a sodcovered hole, at one time outnumbered any other kind of dwelling in western Kansas. Sod-houses, or "soddies," were built with heavy slabs of top soil bound together by roots of growing buffalo grass. The "soddy" was box-like, squat, and dingy, its roof pitched at no greater angle than was required to shed rain.

A few sodhouses were in use as late as 1938, but the rare soddy that stands today is preserved largely because of its historical interest. There are Kansans, however, who still remember how to build a soddy. In 1933, when living quarters had to be provided for a Civilian Conservation Camp stationed near Dodge City, soddy experts were found who built satisfactory barracks of earth.

Even after the first decades of settlement, permanent dwellings were not designed in the contemporary Greek Revival style of the eastern sections of the United States. Temple porticoes, carved entablatures, and fluted Doric columns were elaborations whose transplanting was precluded by the rigors of the Kansas frontier. Practicality was the order of the times. The four walls were unadorned save by openings to provide light and entrance; the roof was designed to shut out the elements; reasonable comfort was the ultimate aim of the builder.

The grim simplicity of early Kansan houses was not due to a lack of aesthetic sense in their builders, but rather to the fact that there were few skilled masons or carpenters in the territory. Sawmills and brickyards were scarce, and the construction of the humblest dwelling involved prodigious labors. Buildings of architectural interest were nevertheless erected. Foremost among these scattered few is the old Planter's Hotel in Leavenworth, built in 1856. It is a three story brick structure ornamented with two oriels, a portecochere, and a cornice trimmed with a double band of dentils.

Several frame houses built in the early 1860's in the ghost town of Albany, in Nemaha County, reveal a definite New England influence. A two-story structure beside the dusty road that was Main Street in the onetime village has a hip roof, small window panes, and an inset doorway. A nearby farmhouse of similar design has a low-roofed addition at the rear, with a deep porch under the eave. The design of these structures, however, is not typical of the architecture in the State.

The construction of railroads through Kansas in the 1870's enabled settlers to receive portable houses f.o.b. They consisted of a framework on which wide planks were nailed; the cracks were then sealed with strips and the plank roof was usually covered with tarpaper. Meagerly furnished, portable houses were sufficiently comfortable for bachelors proving homestead claims, and for merchants intent on garnering quick profits in boom towns. Sometimes when the permanency of a prairie settlement became assured, entire blocks of portable houses were set afire and destroyed to make way for substantial buildings.

The German-Russian immigrants who settled in Rush and Ellis counties in 1875 at first made their homes in board "tents," but these make shifts were soon discarded in favor of the somewhat less crude dugout and sodhouse. For a while many German-Russians clung to the European custom of living in compact villages where they kept their stock, driving to and from the fields each day. The German-Russians in time became thoroughly Americanized. Today their villages are like other prairie communities, except for the large churches, so favored by these people. Their homes invariably stand in the shadows of lofty spires that rise from the land like gigantic carpet tacks. Poetically termed "Cathedrals of the Plains," these edifices are adorned with modified Gothic, Romanesque, and Byzantine details.

In the 1880's the more prosperous Kansans replaced their plain houses with ornate structures weighted down with undigested Old World styles. Mansard roofs bristled with wrought iron, towers sprouted from sawtooth gables, and sharpeaved dormer windows peeped coyly from beneath gingerbread cornices. Many of these structures, their rampant decorations antithetic to the current trend for simplicity and functionalism, are still standing in Topeka, Lawrence, Leavenworth, and Atchison. An architect, viewing the Victorian mansions of Atchison, once remarked, "It's the result of a Kansas cyclone and nobody ever did anything about it."

Many courthouses built in the eighties and nineties are Richardsonian-Romanesque in design. The Riley County Courthouse at Manhattan and the Harvey County Courthouse at Newton, with almost identical exteriors, are outstanding examples of this style of architecture. Plans for these and many other courthouses of this period were bought by county commissioners from salesmen who went through the State with folders containing a dozen or more courthouse designs, all of which were influenced by Richardson.

The State Capitol at Topeka is of neoclassic design, with a hexastyle portico, a balustrade running the length of the roof, and pilastered pediments along the side walls. E. Townsend Mix prepared the original plan. John G. Haskell, who also designed the Cottonwood Falls Courthouse, superintended the construction of the first or east wing, completed in 1866. The remaining three wings, built at intervals between 1866-1903 and joined cross wise, follow the general plan of the east wing. The center of the structure is crowned with a lofty copper-covered dome. The capitol, whose design was inspired by that of the National Capitol, has been picturesquely though not entirely accurately described as "the farthest western advance of Graeco-Roman culture."

Since 1915 many of the old county courthouses have been replaced by modern structures. Noteworthy among these is the neoclassic Wyandotte County Courthouse at Kansas City. It is a five-story temple-like building with hexastyle portico, elaborate cornice ornamented with rococo flourishes, and an attic story, decorated with swags. The building was designed by Wight and Wight of Kansas City, Missouri.

Representative of the late 1920's, when communities vied with each other in building monumental public schools, is the Topeka Central High School, designed by T. R. Griest of that city. It is a slender three-story structure of brick, trimmed with stone, its three wings forming a half hexagon. A tall Gothic tower rises above the central wing. Less striking architecturally, but of greater bulk, is the Wyandotte High School in Kansas City, a huge H-shaped building embellished with Lombardic-Romanesque detail. Sculptures by Emil Robert Zettler, based on Indian forms, adorn the facades. The school was designed by Hamilton, Fellows, and Nedved of Chicago, in association with Joseph W. Radotinsky of Kansas City, Kansas.

The five-story Reno County Courthouse, erected in 1930, with its setbacks and angular recesses above the main doorway, is a radical departure from traditional architecture. It was designed by W. E. Hulse of Hutchinson, Kansas. The floor plan is unusual in its high-ceilinged main room, surrounded by a mezzanine similar to that of banking houses.

A wave of school construction, motivated principally by aid from the Federal Government, has swept across the State since 1930. The design of the high school at Russell, completed in 1938, follows the principles of the "form and functionalists," set forth in the late nineteenth century by Louis Sullivan and the Chicago School, and is a notable example of the "prairie" style, with both plan and structural material adapted to the local environment. It is a three-story rectangular building of local limestone, with a low-pitched tile roof. Except for the entrance, flanked by fluted piers and surmounted by a sculptured panel, the structure is bare of adornment. A. R. Mann of Hutchinson was the architect.

The Wichita High School, North, is another excellent example of the prairie style of architecture. Glenn Thomas was the architect. It is a buff brick building with a red tile roof, and lines similar to those of the State Capitol at Lincoln, Nebraska. A square tower 90 feet high is banded with ceramic panels depicting buffaloes and Indians in shades of red, blue, brown, and yellow. The green glazed tower windows are each ornamented with a red arrow; the main entrance is decorated with polychrome and terra cotta figures designed by Bruce Moore.

Polychrome sculptures, depicting Indian arts, crafts, and environments, decorate the buff walls of the Wichita Art Museum, a cast stone structure of modern design. Clarence S. Stein, of New York City, was the architect ; the decorations are by Lee Lawrie. The angular mass of the exterior, augmented by juxtaposed rectangular planes, produces a studied play of light and shadow.

Two of the finest business structures in Kansas the National Bank Building and the Capitol Building and Loan Association Building face each other across Kansas Avenue in Topeka. The 14 story bank, of modern set-back design, is the tallest business structure in Topeka. It was designed by Thomas W. Williamson & Company, of Topeka. The loan association building is a six-story structure of tan brick with a sharp-gabled roof of red tile. The piers and finials of the south and west facades are decorated with terra cotta sculptures which symbolize in sunflowers, sheaves of wheat, and heroic figures, the pioneering phase of Kansas history. The building was designed by George Grant Elmslie; the decorations are the work of Emil Robert Zettler.

The development of residential architecture in Kansas is not unlike that of any other city in the Middle West. The typical Kansas house is a one or two-story frame structure with a large front porch that is often screened or trellised. The Kansas climate, however, has begun to exert a noticeable influence on housing construction. Sleeping-porch additions in increasing number give comfort for sultry summer nights. Indeed, one-story towers, open on all sides, have been added to otherwise conventional residences. Unlike the ornate, bracketed, and conical towers of the i88o's these structures are utilitarian in appearance.

Virtually all contemporary house styles are represented in the restricted residential areas of Kansas cities. Dutch-Colonial bungalows, trim English cottages, and adaptations of French and Italian Renaissance villas stand beside wide-porticoed post-Colonial houses. Residences that stress form, function, and material with equal emphasis are comparatively rare. Noteworthy in this connection is the Wichita home of Henry J. Allen, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. An irregular ell of buff brick with leaded windows and a low tile roof, the structure appears to be a natural outgrowth of the slope on which it stands.

The typical Kansan farmhouse is a one or two story frame structure that resembles the urban dwelling in almost every detail except the porch. In summer the front porch of a city house is suitably furnished for outdoor living, but the front porch of the average farmhouse is seldom used. It is often sparely constructed and scarcely ever built to the height and width of the facade as are many porches of city dwellings.

Reflecting the chief industries of the region, the most prominent structures on the country skyline are the large wood and stone barns of the cattle-raising sections; flat-sided grain elevators of wood, concrete, or sheet metal in the wheat-growing lands; and concrete silos that look like stubs of gray chalk dotting the dairying areas. The size and shape of these structures are entirely utilitarian the barns spread wide to receive stores of hay; the tall grain elevators, commonly known as "prairie skyscrapers," supply the gravity required for rapid loading of grain; and the tubular silos permit the compact storage that a structure with corners would not allow, thereby lessening the spoilage caused by exposure to air.

The elevators and grain storage bins at Kansas City and other wheat centers in the State are austere examples of functional design. These buildings form huge upright "L's" on the plain. The vertical arm consists of the elevator, its block like mass pitted by small square windows. The horizontal arm at the base of the elevator consists of tubular storage bins whose curved sides resemble the folds in a giant cartridge belt.