• Menu
  • Menu
Vermilya-Boener House

Vermilya-Boener House

City/Town:
Location Class:
Built: 1867 | Abandoned: 1947
Historic Designation: National Register of Historic Places (1991) Abandoned Atlas Foundation Contribution to KPA Most Endangered List (2010)
Status: AbandonedEndangeredPrivate Property
Photojournalist: Emily Cowan

Cruising down the back roads of Douglas County you come across some interesting and at times amazing things. The Vermilya-Boener House is one of those amazing things. Initially, it can be almost missed in the wintertime, the limestone bricks almost blend in with the tall grass and the home hides behind the tall dead trees.

This house is one of wonders, residential properties unless they are connected to people of high importance are usually hard to find information on, the Doctor W. B. Jones Home is a perfect example of this. But this one I surprisingly found quite a bit on.

Built between 1866-1868 by New York immigrant Elijah Wentworth Vermilya for his wife Cynthia and their six children. Elijah purchased the lot that the house sits on in September 1865 from Samuel Denman. As well as additional acreage for the homestead in Wakarusa Township in 1870 for $174.28. From 1867 to 1870 the property value increased from $2,240 to $6,400.

The family officially moved to the land in 1866 and lived in a log cabin while their Italian Villa was being constructed by Swedish stonemasons in the area. They officially moved into the new manor in 1867 before it was completely finished, just in time for Cynthia to give birth in the home to their last child Lottie C. Vermilya.

The Swedish stonemasons used local limestone and dressed it on-site. “Limestone was burned at the site to make lime for mortar. The walls were laid up in the quarry-faced ashlar the courses being unequal and sometimes broken. Nearly two feet thick at the base the walls rose two high-studded stories.” (Caviness, “Building History,” p.7, 1991)

As described in the above source, some of the features of the home included stone lintels capping all doors and windows, a pitched roof with a copper-lined built-in Yankee gutter, four chimneys for woodburning stoves and planned were four porches one for each side of the house. Elijah handmade all the interior trim and mop boards.

As a farmer having land that was rich for agricultural use was very important and this land did just that. Agricultural records from 1885 showed the Vermilya’s had utilized about 140 acres for farming. The following crops had been planted, twelve acres of wheat, ten acres of corn, 120 acres of prairie, an orchard with 74 apple trees, 7 cherry trees, and 6 peach trees. The livestock on the farm included six horses, two milk cows, seven cattle, five pigs and two dogs.

However a newspaper excerpt in 1878 detailed that he had lost one of his valuable horses out of his barn. The thief who took the horse was tracked down for three miles until his trace was lost.


A Wolf Hunt was the headline made January 21, 1879. The story said “Grant Township was made noisy yesterday by a rousing wold hunt. Some eight or ten nimrods assembled on horseback at the scene of action which had a commencement in the field of Mr. Vermilya, but soon spread itself in all directions. Three large wolves having been driven into the brush on Mr. Vermilya’s farm, the retreat was surrounded and a drive took place. which resulted as follows: One wolf broke from the covert on the northwest into a fine open meadow of about one-fourth mile in extent which caused a grand rush to be made by the men stationed on that side. It was a swift ride but the wolf succumbed at the second discharge of Capt. W.P. Wilson’s gun, he having made his shots while his horse was on a dead run.

The other two made their exit at the southwest corner of the woods and made for the river about one-mile distance. Your reporter being stationed in that part of the field gave chase in a fearful manner blundering over fences and through snow drifts and being joined by Mr. Burgous put the retreating wold on his four pegs in a straightforward manner we gave him a two-mile heat two of which was on the smooth solid ice of the Kaw river, at which point we were joined by a half grown [African American] man who on foot with cap in hand and puffling like a steamboat did his best to run the “tarnation critter” down but he failed and we lost him.

They are large wolves perhaps a cross between the black timber wolf and the grey wolf of the prairie. We assembled in the evening to make reports which you have as follows. One wolf killed; one wolf was wounded but escaped; one wolf was trampled in the snow by an unarmed horseman; one wolf was shamefully scared by an [African American] man on foot, three dogs also on foot and two white men on horseback. Captain Wilson was missing and when last seen was on the high prairie about ten miles to the north giving a slight chase to his second wold. The Captain is a hunter and the hunt with him is never up while the games afoot.

A grand hunt with trained dogs is talked of shortly. If it takes place look out for some fun. Later Captain Wilson reports this morning having killed his second wolf. The hunt commences again at noon today.


But Elijah, head of household passed away in 1888 at the age of 64. His property was split between his six children and wife Cynthia. The house and eighty acres on the east side of the property were left to Cynthia, 80 acres on the west was split between the three living children. Lottie, Milton Edward and Ella all received 26.33 acres.

Ella married William Boener in 1891 and moved away for a brief period of time before moving back into the house with her mother in her older age in 1900. It was just three years later her husband William passed away followed by her mother in 1909. It was then that Cynthia’s portion of land was divided up between her children with her daughter Ella and her three kids getting the additional 26.33 acres of land that included the house.

Ella and her children continued to live in the house until around 1915. This is why it was then called the Vermilya-Boener House. Eventually, the land made its way into the home and the surrounding land made its way into the hands of Ella’s son Julian Boener. Julian lived her with his wife Virginia. Together they had four children in that house.

He lived and farmed this land with his wife and kids until his mother Ella passed away in 1947. Julien and his family moved to California and a year later they sold the land and Vermilya-Boener House, it has been vacant ever since.

Eventually, after the house was passed through many different hands it landed in Lance Burr’s. Burr had extravagant plans of restoring the home. It was his efforts that got the home listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991. This not only opens the home up to more state and federal grants but also adds a FEW more loopholes if someone were to try and demolish the home. This does not mean they cant demolish it, a common misconception with National Register properties, just adds a few more steps in order to do it.

At one point the Vermilya-Boener House and land were endangered of becoming a sand-dredging facility by Midwest Concrete Materials. The project would call for a reclamation lake, which would lead to the withdrawal of their proposal in 2010 after the Federal Aviation Administration feared the lake would attract migratory birds that could disrupt aviation at the nearby Lawrence Municipal Airport.

Surrounding this situation the Midland Neighborhood Association was organized to work toward preservation of the agricultural landscape and nominated the home for the Kansas Most Endangered List in 2010. The house continues to sit in uncertain circumstances.




Bibliography

Vermilya-Boener House

https://www.newspapers.com/image/59917254/?terms=vermilya&match=1

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/25631952/elijah-wentworth-vermilya

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/25631968/cynthia-ann-vermilya

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/153961339/william-boener

https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/79102644/person/38391537912/facts

https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/900092662:61371

www.kshs.org/resource/national_register/nominationsNRDB/Douglas_VermilyaBoenerHouseNR.pdf

https://www.newspapers.com/image/489607239/?terms=vermilya&match=1

https://www.newspapers.com/image/489602530/?terms=vermilya&match=1

https://www.newspapers.com/image/61091909/?terms=vermilya&match=1

https://www2.ljworld.com/news/2010/mar/28/state-group-places-villa-list-endangered-historic-/

Vermilya-Boener House

Vermilya-Boener House

Vermilya-Boener House

Vermilya-Boener House

Vermilya-Boener House

Vermilya-Boener House

Vermilya-Boener House

Vermilya-Boener House

Endangered: Vermilya-Boener House

Vermilya-Boener House
Emily Cowan

Emily is a three-time published author of "Abandoned Oklahoma: Vanishing History of the Sooner State" - "Abandoned Topeka: Psychiatric Capital of the World" and "Abandoned Kansas: Healthcare in the Heartland. With over two hundred published articles on our websites. Exploring since 2018 every aspect of this has become a passion for her. From educating, fighting to preserve, writing, and learning about history there is nothing she would rather do.

5 1 vote
Article Rating

If you wish to support our current and future work, please consider making a donation or purchasing one of our many books. Any and all donations are appreciated.

Donate to our cause Check out our books!

Emily Cowan

Emily is a three-time published author of "Abandoned Oklahoma: Vanishing History of the Sooner State" - "Abandoned Topeka: Psychiatric Capital of the World" and "Abandoned Kansas: Healthcare in the Heartland. With over two hundred published articles on our websites. Exploring since 2018 every aspect of this has become a passion for her. From educating, fighting to preserve, writing, and learning about history there is nothing she would rather do.

View Locations
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

3 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Joy Fox
Joy Fox
13 days ago

There’s a woman that now lives in Topeka that says she lived there at some point while growing up. After she moved, it was used as a haunted house for some time. So, according to her, it hasn’t been abandoned for 80 years, although it’s vacant now. It had no indoor plumbing when she lived there.

Rebecca Bowman
Rebecca Bowman
14 days ago

I remember seeing this house many times while growing up in Lawrence. I really enjoyed reading about some of its history. Whenever I see an abandoned house, I find myself making up stories in my head or picturing the family that lived there. It’s great to hear the real story.

Michael Mundy
Michael Mundy
Reply to  Rebecca Bowman
13 days ago

It is hard to imagine why anyone would let a grand old home like that sit abandoned for nearly 80 years! Even more amazing it is still site intact. The thick stone exterior is the only reason. I wonder if the roof has been replaced in that time? I wish the owners would sell to someone who would restore the home. It makes no sense to just let it sit there empty and abandoned.

Copyright © 2009- - Abandoned Atlas Foundation - board@AbandonedAtlas.com | Designed By Prairie Nation Creative, LLC - Disclaimer

Total
0
Share
error: Content is copyright protected by The Abandoned Atlas Foundation. To request the use of information/media: board@abandonedatlas.com or copy and paste link to post
3
0
Have history here? Would love hear your stories or your thoughts.x
()
x