Two historic houses, one still standing and one tragically destroyed by fire, were memorialized with historic markers on Monday.
Memorial Art unveiled monuments of both the McCoy House and the Kirby House.
Michael Hook and Terry Tietjens, of the Historical Seelye Foundation provided the history, presented the history of the two houses both located on the southeast corner of Third Street and Kirby Avenue, the current location of the Memorial Art Company.
Hook said that before Joseph McCoy, Abilene consisted of cabins.
“The number one merchant was a prairie dog salesman,” Hook said.
Hook said on that property McCoy built his first house.
“It wasn’t quite a mansion but it was a nice little place,” he said.
The original house was moved just east where Abilene Printing is now located.
“We didn’t want to destroy one of the most important houses in Abilene so they moved it right over there next door,” Hook said of the move.
It was moved a second time at Fourth Street and Kuney Street not too far from here. It is a beautiful house still standing today,” he said.
He said the Abilene was one of the best advertised cowtowns on a budget of $5,000.
He said at the end of the cattle boom McCoy was penniless.
“There wasn’t much to show for what he had done but the thing that came out of this is his legacy, Abilene, what we have to show for.”
He said it was the Belle Springs Creamery, which McCoy brought to Abilene, also brought the Eisenhower family to Abilene.
“They were in Belle Springs before that. They didn’t have to come to Abilene but there were three properties that the creamer ybought,” he said.
Those were the stockyards, McCoy’s drover’s cottage and the Alamo Saloon.
“It’s all about saving history,” Tietjens said.
Tietjens bought the Kirby House and turned it into a high-class restaurant.
“Even though we have a wonderful town today, what Abilene is always going to be known by is its history,” he said.
He said when he came to Abilene to restore the Seelye Mansion, he noticed the building across the street from Abilene Floral.
He said Thomas Kirby was an early banker in Abilene. He started the Kirby Bank in 1878. He died in 1905. It was sold in 1914.
“It became the Commercial Club in Abilene, the forerunner of our chamber of commerce,” Tietjens said.
He said when he got involved, Lena’s Restaurant, now the Farmhouse, had been closed for 10 years and Abilene really deserved a nice restaurant,” he said.
The Kirby House was an apartment house when Tietjens bought it in 1986.
“This was called Grand Avenue and this was the first house on Grand Avenue,” he said.
It was destroyed by fire in February 2013.
Contact Tim Horan at firstname.lastname@example.org