By GAIL PARSONS
The Gustav Kubach House at 101 S. Buckeye Ave. has been accepted onto the Register of Historic Kansas Places and has been nominated for the National Register of Historic Places.
The house, which is now Anita Miller’s Ameriprise Financial office, was built in 1922 in a style called prairie craftsman with a camelback, unique to Abilene and the region.
Prairie style houses were built to blend in with the flat prairie landscape. They feature sweeping horizontal lines and wide open floor plans. The camelback feature is a partial second floor to a single-level home and was a common addition to shotgun houses in the South.
Miller said when she purchased the property in 200 the goal was to find a good location for her business. When she could find nothing suitable for her needs in Abilene’s downtown area, she looked at the Gustav Kubach home.
It needed some work, but having respect for history she wanted to ensure she maintained the integrity of the house.
“There is very little change from the original,” Miller said.
The house had four owners before her. Gustav Kubach had it built in 1922 but his wife died that year and he moved to Denver. In 1923 he sold it to Herbert Tucker for $9,000. Tucker eventually lost ownership of the house and it was sold at a sheriff’s sale in 1929 to Jesse Fengel.
Fengel lived at the house until his death in 1958. When his widow died two years later, their son Carl and his wife took ownership until 1999.
When Miller got the building, there was a lot of work that needed to be done, but with so much of the original home still intact she proceeded with caution. The woodwork, the porch, the old ironstone and light fixtures were all original.
“The good news was that nobody had done a thing with the property,” Miller said. “The bad news was nobody had done a thing with the property.”
When she acquired the property she said she started looking at what it might take to put it on the registry. It was not long before she realized that was way too much work for her, so she called Nanc Scholl, member of Dickinson County Historical Society.
“There are a lot of these little houses and they all have a history to them,” Scholl said. “You never know until you start digging what the history is. All of them in some way are important.”
Any house more than 50 years old can be a candidate for the historic registries, but it takes some work to research the house’s history. When a building is accepted, aside from the prestige that goes with it, there are historic restoration grants available to help people maintain the property in a way that will ensure its historic integrity.