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Downtown Leavenworth West of 4th Street Historical Walking Tour
Item 8 of 9
The house at 309 N. Esplanade Street is one of fourteen houses that contribute to the North Esplanade Historic District, listed in the National Register in 1977. The district runs from 203 to 515 North Esplanade, on the west side of a street facing east toward a narrow strip of parkland, Esplanade Park, and the Missouri River beyond the bluff. Most of the contributing houses were built in the 1860s to 1880s. John C. Ketcheson, a printer, bought three lots in 1877 and had this house built in 1882. The two-story, frame, Queen Anne Victorian house features an octagonal three-story tower on the front and a rounded veranda.

2009 photograph of front of Ketcheson House (KSHS)

2009 photograph of front of Ketcheson House (KSHS)

c1915 photo of Ketcheson House (2nd from left) and North Esplenade Historic District (KSHS)

c1915 photo of Ketcheson House (2nd from left) and North Esplenade Historic District (KSHS)

Federal-style house in the N. Esplanade Historic District in 2009 photo, facing northwest (KSHS)

Federal-style house in the N. Esplanade Historic District in 2009 photo, facing northwest (KSHS)

North Esplanade Park in 1976 photo, facing north (KSHS)

North Esplanade Park in 1976 photo, facing north (KSHS)

The North Esplanade neighborhood became a popular locale for middle and upper-class businessmen to make their homes in the second half of the nineteenth century; the street, north of the original commercial district, was originally called Main Street. John C. Ketcheson, the original owner of this house at 309 N. Esplanade Street, previously lived a block away at 403 N. Esplanade, in the c. 1865 Lewis Burnes House, from 1875 to 1881. Both houses are contributing to the North Esplanade Historic District. John lived with E.B. Ketcheson - probably his brother - in both houses. Ketcheson sold the property to Colonel James L. Abernathy in 1895.

The Abernathy family established the Abernathy Furniture Store in town in the 1850s; three brothers - James, William and John. Colonel James L. Abernathy may have bought the home as a gift; the Ketcherson House was occupied by the household of 31-year-old Omar Abernathy in 1900. Omar worked as the manager of a factory and had married Romaine T. (age 24) in 1894. The couple shared the home with their young daughters, Elizabeth (4) and Romaine (2); and an African-American servant named Luvera Davis (18). James L. Abernathy (64) was still a furniture manufacturer in 1900 and lived with his wife, Elizabeth (59), in a hotel at 108 Main Street with fifteen other boarders; Colonel Abernathy died in 1902. Omar Abernathy moved by 1910 to 604 Spruce Street; his wife, Romaine, died in 1913, and his mother, Elizabeth, passed away in 1926. Omar retired from the furniture manufacturing business in the 1920s and relocated first to Kansas City for eight years, and then to Miami Beach, Florida, where he died in 1941 at age 72. It is not known when he sold the house at 309 N. Esplanade.

The nearly 100-year-old Ketcheson House was owned by Mr. and Mrs. William J. Doman in 1977. Later residents include members of the Kennedy, Yarrow, and Brasfield families. Other distinctive features of the Ketcheson House are two-story bay windows on the front and south sides. A two-story carriage house survives on the property, used as a garage. The three-bedroom, 2.5 bathroom house contains slightly over 3,000 square feet and was last sold in 1997 for $114,500.

Other houses in the North Esplanade Historic District are: C.W.P. Boarding House (215 N. Esplanade, built c.1872), E.E. Henry House (213, c.1880), E. H. Durfee House (219, c.1872), Edward Stillings House (303, mid-1870s), William Small House (313, c.1880s), L.G. Terry House (317), William Small House (321), Lewis Burnes House (403, late 1860s), Elmore W. Snyder House (409, mid-1880s), George Ross House (417, early 20th c.), Alvin Woodworth House (501, mid-1860s), James McCahon (507), and Winfield Denton House (515, mid-1880s), Esplanade Park also is a contributing element to the historic district. The houses in the historic district are different from the nearby homes because they tend to be larger in size with a well-maintained appearance of the houses and yards. In the late 1970s, most of the houses in the historic district were owner-occupied.

clustrmaps. North Esplanade Street, Lavenworth, Kansas, Clustrmaps. Accessed August 2nd 2020. https://clustermaps.com/a/725il.

Kansas Historical Society. Abernathy Brothers Furniture, Kansapedia. July 1st 2017. Accessed July 31st 2020. https://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/abernathy-brothers-furniture/16428.

Loughlin, Amanda. 103-3020-00074 North Esplanade HD, 203-517 N. Esplanade St, Kansas Historic Resources Inventory. Accessed July 31st 2020. https://khri.kansasgis.org/index.cfm?in=103-3020-00074.

Pankratz, Richard. Wyma, Cornelia. NRHP Nomination of North Esplanade Historic District. National Register. Washington, DC. National Park Service, 1977.

Swede. Omar M. Abernathy (1868-1941) Memorial 136657831, FindAGrave. October 1st 2014. Accessed August 2nd 2020. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/136657831.

US Census. Household of Amar Abernathy, 309 N. Main St., Ward 1, Leavenworth, KS, dwelling 271, family 288. Washington, DC. US Government, 1900.

US Census. Family headed by James L. Abernathy, boarder, 108 Main St., Ward 1, Leavenworth, KS, dwelling 321, family 339. Washington, DC. US Government, 1900.

US Census. Household of Omar Abernathy, 604 Spruce St., Ward 3, Leavenworth, KS, Enumeration district 098, p. 17A. Washington, DC. US Government, 1910.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

https://khri.kansasgis.org/index.cfm?in=103-3020-00074

https://khri.kansasgis.org/index.cfm?in=103-3020-00074

https://khri.kansasgis.org/index.cfm?in=103-3020-00074

https://khri.kansasgis.org/index.cfm?in=103-3020-00074