The Farm, House and Bridge – Peter Stackman’s Legacy

“Praise the bridge that carried you over” – George Colman

“The simple hearth of the small farm is the true center of our universe” – Masanobu Fukuoka

Peter Frederick Stackman was the first husband of Marie-Louise Hahn, the matriarch for which the Kansas Historic Landmark, Maison Steinbuchel is named.  In a previous post I outlined his pioneering role in the early development of the core of Wichita.
Stackman Drive, that runs from the Murdock entrance to Riverside Park along the river to where several apartment complexes built by his son still stand, remains.  I was curious about the exact location of the original farm house.  In the process of researching, a number of details about the farm location came to light.

The Stackman Bridge and Dam

A view of the dam today

In the book,   “A Living Gravestone” by Elisabeth Guldner, she mentions playing by the dam near the bridge as a girl.  This would have been in the late 1800s.

“City commission yesterday voted to name the new Central avenue bridge for Frederick P. Stackman, father of Mrs. Rene Gouldner. He died 34 years ago at age 46 but had already amassed considerable holdings in Wichita real estate.
Mrs. Gouldner was then but a child and remembers that the Little river was just a small creek, and the cattle feeding ground was on the site of the municipal pool. The Stackman farm of 130 acres in Riverside purchased by her father in 1882 was then “out in the country.”   Mr. Stackman moved to Wichita in 1873 from Topeka.”
Then in the Friday, October 2, 1931 Wichita Eagle (page 5) there is a mention that “The new Stackman bridge over Little river on Central was opened to traffic last evening. Cost was about $75,000.”

The Bridge Today

Today when leaving Riverside Park, driving south on Nims just past the roundabout, there are three bridges:

Stackman Bridge and the Dam today
 The Woodman bridge has a plaque historically appropriate.  For some reason, the Stackman bridge has a plaque dated 1986, naming it the Central bridge.  My, but we do have short memories.
farmOn the north side of the Stackman bridge is the dam.  I am sure many changes have taken place from the late 1800s, and from the 1931 redo to the present.
‘None-the-less, the original farmstead had at least one bridge with a dam on order to cross the Arkansas River which flowed through the original land grant.  The National Bridge Inventory does not acknowledge this as a significant location even though once named for a key Wichita Pioneer.  We know better.

The Cattle Pens and Barn

As mentioned above, the farm’s cattle pens were located where the oldfarm
municipal pool was located.  This is the current site of the Riverside Tennis Courts.  No wonder the grass is greener!  Mentioned also was a barn built on the property.  Whether it was near the cattle pens, or closer to the house to shelter the horse and carriages, has not yet been verified.  Oh for some photos!  Still looking….

The Farm House

The farmhouse and barn were built somewhere around 1878.  The house was yellow brick.  It was square, two-story with a front porch and a small ornamental porch off one of the second story bedrooms.
The first floor consisted of an entrance hall, three rooms, and a kitchen formed by enclosing a porch at the end of the house.  The living, dining, entrance hall and stairway were paneled three-quarters of the way up.  The stair rail on the north wall consisted of walnut.  The second story held four bedrooms, one of which used as a bath.  All details outlined in the book as well.
Around 1925, the home was updated by:
    • removing the second story porch balcony
    • covering the yellow brick with while stucco
    • widening the porch steps in a graduated manner which added a graceful entrance to the plain, square structure
    • the mound upon which the house stood refaced with white cut stone
    • updated plumbing installed in the upstairs bath

The Farm was Home

Marie lived in this home from 1887 until 1892 as Peter Stackman’s wife. She retained ownership of the property after she remarried, and moved back in in 1925 after Herman, her second husband’s death.  The remodel, no doubt completed at this time.

In the intervening years, the farm house was a retreat for Marie. In the 30’s Elisabeth returned to Wichita to help her mother manage  properties they owned.

I can assume she lived at the farmhouse with her mother as the book mentions Marie “Had a room built off  the back of the farmhouse for the boys….”.  At some point, Marie moved into a unit at the Stackman Court Apartments near-by where she died in 1946 at the age of 80

The Farm Today

In Spring of 1967 the farmhouse was torn down to make way for building the S. G. Riviera garden 48 unit apartment complex.  Robert A. Aylward was owner and developer.  Architects were Feagins and Kirsch.  Construction began in  September with first units ready for occupancy by April. Rents ranged from $225 to $350 a month.
The February 1967 Eagle reported the target date of June 15, 1967 for completion of the first units of the Stackman — Gouldner Riviera Apartments at 705-715 Stackman Drive.
Structural work is about 33 percent complete on the French Provincial style buildings. To have 48 apartment units. The apartments rest on the old Frederick P. Stackman home-site.

The Farm’s Address

As the city grew up around the farmstead, the property acquired the address, 705 Faulker, the north south street that starts just north of Stackman Court.  Apparently, when Stackman Drive was so named, they took the southern most block of Faukner and added it to Stackman Drive.   I suppose at this point the  farmstead’s address became 705 Stackman Drive.

Lost stories buried beneath progress

I do knot know why the farmstead was razed.  I trust serious deliberation went into the decision.  The property owners had every right to make it whatever the rationale.  It does give me pause to take extra time in making choices about those things within my purview.
What does this reminder of Mr. Stackman’s legacy speak to you today?  Please comment below.

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