Sunday, March 28, 2010

Historic Topeka, Kansas - Tuesday, March 23, 2010

On the Sunday before our Topeka trip, we awoke to nearly a foot of new snow and wondered if winter would ever be over. We were hoping for a nice day for photos and warm weather so we could enjoy the sightseeing on the coming Tuesday. We had already been spoiled by a few 60 degree days before the storm which made the new snow even more disappointing.
We are so lucky. It did warm up. The snow was mostly gone and we were able to leave the coats on the bus by late morning. The bus left Lee's Summit about 8:00 am and arrived at our first stop in Topeka just before 10:00 am.
This was our first trip with the Summit Senior Group which is a service of the Bank of Lee's Summit. The Coordinator, Rita Madison, plans a number of really interesting trips each year and, based on how well the Topeka trip went, she does a great job. Sigrid has already signed up with Edel to take another trip in June with the same group (see previous post) and I expect we will both take advantage of other future offerings.
The first stop was Cedar Crest, the Kansas Governor's Mansion. The house was originally built in 1928 by Frank MacLennan, the owner of the Topeka State Journal. The house was donated to the State in 1962 for use as the Governor's Mansion. The home is surrounded by a 244 acre public park. In 1982, the house was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places. What surprises me is the very contemporary look of the house given that it is over 80 years old.

Lots of additional information if you want to click on the photo to enlarge it for reading.

I believe that we had 36 people on the trip with us.

The interior has been completely restored but with an eye towards maintaining the original personality of the home. We only toured the first floor. The Governor and has family live in the home but give it up to tours on Tuesday's. The second floor has all the bedrooms while the third floor has a home office for the Governor.

While there was still a little snow, Spring is definitely here.

The next stop was the Great Overland Station near downtown Topeka. This railway station was built in 1927 and served four different rail lines over the years. Most of them are gone or merged into another line. Now, the Union Pacific is the only line running through Topeka but it is very busy with 100 train per day passing by the old Station. The Station is now a museum and is also used for civic and social events.
I guess I never gave much thought to the name "Union Station" before learning that there are lots of them across the county. As it turns out, any rail station that serves more then one line is a "union station".
This is the main passenger area in the station. The central area was once covered by wooden bench seating. All that was destroyed during the 1951 flood when the room was under 10 feet of water. The ticket windows and offices have been recreated. This large area is now available for weddings, parties, etc.

The very first Harvey House went into service in Topeka in an earlier station. However, the area in the photo below was used by Harvey in his operations. We had a nice lunch served by "Harvey Girls". The girls were actually retired railroad line ladies who dressed in the famous uniforms used by the original "Harvey Girls" to serve visitors at the station. Notice the locomotive light fixtures. What a wonderful step back in time!

They did a great job restoring the old building to its former glory.

After lunch, we had a facinating presentation by another retired railroader who was a real expert on railroad history and a collector of railroad artifacts.

Just outside the front doors, is the memorial to all the Kansas recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor with flags of all 50 states flying.

I guess all "Union Stations" kind of look alike.

Lots of neat details have been restored.

I'll bet this is a kid (both big and small) favorite.

Sigrid getting on the bus for our next stop.

The Kansas State Capitol Building.

They used more than 10 different kinds of marble in the contruction of the building. As I recall, the building was done in stages and took about 30 years to complete. If they had to start over, I am sure that in today's world, the building wouldn't be nearly as elaborate and expensive to construct. All the old capitol buildings are like this........monuments to government. They are almost intimidating to the average citizen. We had a tour guide for our group. He was very knowledgable and animated in his delivery of information.

The House of Representative's Chamber getting ready to go into session.

European castles don't have much on this building.

Look closely at the boxes under the phones. The colored buttons on the box are used to vote and other functions.

Representatives hard at work preparing for the upcoming session or talking about the K-State NCAA basketball team.

Elaborate touches.

The final stop...........Charles Curtis' house. Curtis was the first Native American to become Vice President of the US. He was largely self taught. He was able to pass the Bar Exam just from reading texts on the law. Google him for more information if interested.

As a child, I spent lots of time at my grandmother's house which was of the same vintage as the Curtis house. It brought back many memories as I walked the squeaky floors.

This house is a castle compared to Harry Truman's Independence home.

The music room..........forerunner of the media room.

The front entrance hall.
Master Bedroom

Nice stained glass windows.

Kids play area.

Wood carving on newell post.

We had a really nice time on the trip. We were home before 6:00 pm. It took longer to get the blog posting than I had hoped, but if you have read the other posts, you know that this is nothing new.
We are hard at work on our future adventures. Stay tuned.