Garnett, KS

Historic Sennett and Bertha Kirk House in Garnett, Kansas has evolved into The Kirk House

CJ Coombs
Sennett and Bertha Kirk House in Garnett, Kansas.Photo byJon Roanhaus, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

How can you not love this house? It's over 100-years-old, is full of history, and has a purpose even today.

The historic name for this house is the Sennett and Bertha Kirk House. It's located at 145 West 4th Avenue in Garnett, Kansas (Anderson County). The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 2, 2005.

The architectural style is Late 19th and Early 20th Century American Movements: Colonial Revival. George P. Washburn & Son was the architectural firm. The foundation is limestone and the walls are weatherboard. The house is important due to its architecture for its associated time in history.

This two-and-a-half-story house was built in 1913. The main floors have 13 rooms, and the basement has eight. There are no historic outbuildings on the property.

The first floor contains a vestibule, or foyer, that leads to a central reception hall. Formal rooms are linked to this hall. There’s also a parlor, den, dining room, living room, and library. In the rear of the home is the kitchen and two pantries which open to a rear porch.
The back of the house looks perfect.Photo byJon Roanhaus, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The main rooms of the first level as well as the floors on the second level have oak flooring. There are solid oak doors including oak pocket doors in the dining room and library. The dining room was decorated on its four walls by 17 painted panels of landscapes by local artist Paul Nordstrum.

Sennett Kirk

Lester K. Kirk opened the Garnett State Savings Bank on September 6, 1889. His son, Sennett, began with the bank as a cashier and by 1947, he was the bank's vice-president. He was also the secretary of the Garnett Mutual Loan and Savings Association established in 1894.

On June 12, 1904, Sennett married Bertha Mellen of Garnett. They lived on 4th Avenue all their married life. They had three children, Leta (b. 1903), Bertha (b. 1906), and Sennett, Jr. (1909).

Bertha was born in Greeley, Kansas in January 1873. She attended the University of Kansas and was a Tulton and Trueblood School of Oratory graduate in Kansas City, Missouri. She taught at the State School for the Deaf in Jacksonville, Illinois and later, the Kansas School for the Deaf in Olathe, Kansas. Bertha's father, William H. Mellen, was a businessman and had been a teacher in Greeley. He was also elected Register of Deeds of Anderson County.

Because of their background, the Kirks were influential in the community. Sennett's father was elected as Garnett's first mayor in 1870. After Lester Kirk died in 1902, his legacy included being a well-known county attorney and upstanding citizen. Lester was also a state representative and senator.

The building of the Kirk House coincided with the development of municipal services in town which began to supply water in 1890-1891. In 1898, streets were paved. In 1904-1905, gas service was developed for cooking, heating, and lighting. In 1914, Garnett started producing electricity.

The Kirk House was also a social event center where the community could come together. The ballroom of the home was used for entertaining where music and dancing took place.

Sennett Kirk, Sr. died on November 7, 1949, at age 78. Having also been born in Garnett, he was a lifelong resident. Bertha M. Kirk died on September 14, 1951, at which time their three children inherited the Kirk House.

Their son, Sennett Kirk, Jr., married Kathryn Jones and lived in Garnett. After his father died, he announced the sale of controlling interest in the Garnett State Savings Bank to C. H. Goppert of Kansas City, Missouri in 1954. Sennett, Jr. died on June 28, 1977, at age 67.

On June 15, 1957, the Kirk heirs sold the property to Herman G. and Emma S. Brandenburg who sold the property to Effie M. Graham in 1960. After she died, her son inherited the property. Visit here to view the Kirk family line chart.

In March, 1988, the property was purchased by Robert Logan and Robert Cugno, who received an award for preservation from the Kansas Preservation Alliance. in 1991.

The house began operating as The Kirk House, a bed and breakfast type venue but some reviews in the past indicated breakfast wasn't served. The house isn't listed as a bed and breakfast on its website although it has a fully equipped kitchen with your overnight stay. If you balance out all the accommodations and amenities, I wouldn't need breakfast served. The history of the house and furnishings would keep me entertained.

The Kirk House for your next overnight stay, whole house vacation rental, family reunion, holiday gathering, class reunion, garden party, baby or bridal shower, or other small gathering. (Source.)

In HerLife Magazine online article, The Gems of Garnett: Monroe 816 + The Kirk House, Eileen Burns is listed as being the new owner of The Kirk House which underwent renovations in 2023.

Thanks for reading.

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Multi-genre writer and author/publisher with a BA in Eng Journalism/Creative Writing. I worked in law firms for 30+ years and retired early to pursue writing. I was born into the Air Force, so you could say I'm from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, research, history, true crime, reading, art, and travel.

Kansas City, MO

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