Awards of Excellence:
Dillon House

Year(s) Listed:
Location Class:
Built: 1913 | Year Saved: 2014
Contributor: Kansas Preservation Alliance

“None come too early, none stay too late,” Hiram Price Dillon inscribed on the entry hall fireplace mantel of his 1913 home at 9th and Harrison Streets in Topeka. He had swapped his existing home and an undisclosed amount of cash for the location. After the swap, Dillon worked to design and build a new home on the property which afforded his family a great view of the recently completed Kansas Statehouse to the east. In addition, the larger home allowed Dillon and his wife, Susie, to host parties and gatherings. The home showcased their extensive art and antique collections, acquired on their many trips to Europe. The family owned the home until 1941, when the contents were auctioned and the building was acquired by the American Home Life Insurance Company, which converted it to their headquarters offices. The First Presbyterian Church was the next to acquire the house, using it as a community house for a time before planning to demolish it as part of a church expansion in 1989. Historic Topeka facilitated a conversation between First Presbyterian and the State of Kansas which resulted in a property swap to rescue the building in 1997. For a decade following the swap, the first floor of the Dillon House was used for meetings, gatherings and events. In 2012, the house again faced the possibility of demolition, and in 2013 the house was purchased by Pioneer Group in a State auction, with the intent of creating an office for Pioneer Group and its companies, as well as opening the house to the public as an event space. Exterior work included reconstruction of the original pergola porch on the east of the house, masonry repointing and cleaning, clay tile roof repair, new gutters and downspouts, new replica windows, existing window repair, and trim repair and painting. Interior work included full mechanical and electrical upgrades, extensive plaster repair, structural reinforcement, a new elevator shaft, and recreations of original finishes. After surviving the threat of demolition twice, this piece of Topeka’s history has been restored to its former glory.

Federal historic preservation tax credits were utilized to fund this rehabilitation.

The project team included: Pioneer Group Inc.; Historic Preservation Partners, Treanor Architects; Bartlett & West Inc, Lattimer Sommers & Associates, Professional Engineering Consultants, Woltkamp Construction Company, and Spencer Preservation.

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