William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas


[TOC] [part 15] [part 13] [Cutler's History]


The old Leavenworth Hotel, erected by Geo. H. Keller and A. T. Kyle in the fall of 1854, has the honor of being not only the first hotel in the town of Leavenworth, but in the Territory of Kansas. It was opened October 7, 1854. The building, a large three-story wooden structure, 120 x 36 feet, was situated on the northwest corner of Delaware and Main streets. Uncle George Keller was a host in himself. He had been a farmer and hotel keeper in Indiana, a cattle drover in Platte County, Mo., and a gold hunter if California - and but for the rascality of an agent would have been a successful one, - one of the original platters of Leavenworth, a man, a brother, warm hearted, a strong Free-soiler, etc., etc. No wonder that he was a popular landlord - except with the ultra Pro-slaveryites. "Aunt Nancy" Keller, his wife, was a good old soul. It seemed to be peculiarly appropriate that the first child born in the town, Cora Leavenworth Kyle, should see the light of day under the care of such kind grand parents as Mr. and Mrs. Keller. It would be difficult to say who were happiest on this 6th day of December, 1854, the parents themselves, or Grandmother and Grandfather Keller. Miss Kyle afterward became the wife of (?). M Allen. The Leavenworth Hotel became so popular that additions were made in the winter. This was the third building erected in Leavenworth. In front of the hotel, in the street, a well was dug - the first in town - which remained until the street was graded down some thirty feet in 1857. The old elm tree also went down and disappeared from history at this time. Returning to Mr. Keller - his Free-state proclivities became too pronounced, and during the early part of 1856, he was "ran out" of the State and imprisoned in Weston. Being a strong Odd Fellow, as well as a favorite, and being entirely innocent of any wrong doing, "Uncle George" was allowed to escape to Nebraska, where he remained until the excitement had blown over. He then returned and built Mansion House, as he found that the Leavenworth House had been transformed into a prison by the "border ruffians." In 1857 A. Beach became landlord of the Leavenworth Hotel. In 1859 the building was torn down.

Planters' House. - In October, 1855, the Planters' Hotel Company was formed, its principal members being W. H. Russell, H. P. Johnson, and Amos Rees. It was started as a recognized resort for those of strong Pro-slavery sentiments, those who attached their names to the subscription paper formally endorsing this narrow political business principle. In November ground was broken for the new hotel, on the corner of Main and Shawnee streets, and the work so well carried on that although the building was a large four-story brick structure, ti was thrown open to guests on the 3d of December, 1856. It had a front of 110 feet on Shawnee street and seventy-four feet on Main and Water streets. The dining-room, 106 feet in length, would accommodate 200 guests at a sitting; the sleeping rooms were light and airy, the furniture (of the latest styles) cost $15,000, the silverware and plate came from New York - in fact the Planter' Hotel was a wonder of elegance and comfort in these days and in this country. The aggregate cost was $50,000. The house was leased to Messrs. McCarty & McMeekin, and under their popular management, coupled with its convenient location on the Levee, it became known far and wide. Smith, Rice & Co. Were proprietors from 1857 to 1865, during which time (1863), the large addition on Main street was built. Robinson & Co. Managed the house for two years. In 1867 J. B. Lamber, its present proprietor, came into possession. The building, as it now stands, has 100 rooms, being 125 x 125 feet in size. Mr. Lamber's long experience has taught him how to run the hotel in the first-class style, and he does it.

Among the other early hotels best known in Leavenworth were the St. George, corner of Second and Delaware, B. O. Menger, proprietor; the Union House, corner of Main and Shawnee, Capt. H. T. Clarke, landlord; and the Temperance Hotel, on Delaware street, kept by H. P. Livers; Shawnee House, on Shawnee, between Main and Second streets, kept by Farrell & Berthoud.

The Shawnee House was built by Miles Norton, in 1855, and as the Planters' House was to the Pro-slavery party, so was the Shawnee House to the Free-state organization. The building was situated on the north side of Shawnee street, between Main and Second streets - the two-story frame building now occupied as a dwelling house. It was the recognized headquarters of all the noted Free-state leaders in this vicinity. Mr. Norton was very popular as a landlord, and the Planters' House was obliged to look to its laurels in retaining it share of public patronage.

The Continental Hotel is a fine brick building, three stories and basement to height, situated on the corner of Fourth and Cherokee streets. It was built by Michael Przybylowicz, in 1868. Edward Fritsche became a partner in the business in 1872. The Continental contains sixty rooms, accommodations for 150 guests, and the entire property is now valued at $30,000. The hotel is situated in the business center of Leavenworth and is a great favorite with traveling men.

The Planters' House and Continental Hotel are now the leading public houses of Leavenworth. Others there are, however, which accommodate a large class of the public. The Delmonico Hotel, by the Giacomini Bros., is finely managed. The Washington House, the Collins' House, the Central Hotel, and other public houses and boarding establishments, less well known, serve to make Leavenworth a pleasant residence city for those not able to own homes of their own.

The most costly and elegant public hall in Leavenworth is the new Opera House, on Shawnee street, between Fifth and Sixth streets. The building was erected by a stock company, of which H. D. Rush was president, and completed in 1880, at a cost of $20,000. The hall, which is neatly and conveniently arranged, and furnished with tasty scenery, has a seating capacity of 900.

In addition to the new Opera House, there are the old Opera House, southwest corner of Delaware and Fourth; Laing's Hall, northwest corner of these thoroughfares; Turner Hall, northeast corner of Shawnee and Broadway; Pythian Hall, corner of Sixth and Shawnee streets; Odd Fellows' Hall, corner of Fourth and Delaware; and Ralston's Hall corner of Third and Delaware streets.

[TOC] [part 15] [part 13] [Cutler's History]