Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
Goerz House

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Institution Name: Bethel College (KS)
Original/Historic Place Name: Goerz Hall
Location on Campus: 2512 College Ave.
Date(s) of Construction:
1893original construction Dumont, Elbert
1908addition of wrap-around porch
1993renovation
Designer: Elbert Dumont (Witchita, KS)
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Victorian, Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education, history, religion
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Materials:
Foundation: native limestone
Walls: wood stud and wood siding
Roof: cedar shingles
 
Function:
1893-1921private residence (originally home of the Rev. David Goerz, co-founder of Bethel College and its business manager, and chief promoter of Mennonite higher education; later home to Joseph Kesseling, author of "Arsenic and Old Lace")
1921-1963residence hall (also used as a place to study)
1921-1963infirmary
1963-1988other (offices of Western District Conference)
1993-present (2006)other (guest house)
 

Narrative:
Goerz House, a Queen Anne revival designed by Wichita architect Elbert Dumont, was originally home to David and Helene (Riesen) Goerz. It is a wood-frame building with clapboard siding and decorative wood trim, painted gray, that outlines the home. The lintel has a slightly overhanging cornice above the frieze, supported on either side of the window by pilasters that terminate the sill. Almost without exception, the windows are one-over-one double hung. The building originally had a southern entrance with a typical Queen Anne porch supported by Tuscan colums; but the positioning of the front entrance was changed from south to west in 1908 when a wrap-around porch was added. After periods as a student residence hall and church headquarters, the home was renovated in 1993 to serve as a home and reception center for the college president. Careful attention was paid to period detail both inside and outside the home.

David Goerz was co-founder and business manager for Bethel College, and was one of the primary spokespersons for Mennonite higher education. His story is well known on the campus and in Mennonite educational circles. Goerz House also served as home to Joseph O. Kesselring when he taught vocal music at Bethel from 1922-1924. When his play "Arsenic and Old Lace" appeared on Broadway in the 1930s, the set duplicated the living room of Goerz House with its long window seat and open staircase.

Goerz House originally had a showcase yard that included a semi-circle of 12 "apostle" trees along the front drive. In 1915, Rudolph Goerz, David's son, replaced his father's porch with a larger one featuring classical ionic pillars and an extension over the drive. At the same time, he built a tennis court and a pergola beside the large lily pond. During extensive travels, the Goerz family bought lilacs from Persia and oriental poppies to grace the yard. Plans call for a restoration of the grounds to original landscaping.

In 1921 Bethel College purchased the home and has owned it since that time. In 1935 dormer windows were added to the third floor to provide additional room and light in order to make the building more amenable for student housing. A kitchen was also added to the second floor during the 1930s, but this, as well as a metal fire escape, has since been removed.
 

References:

Goerz House blueprint collection. Archives of the Mennonite Library, Bethel College, North Newton, KS.

Goerz House drawing collection (1964 renovation). Archives of the Mennonite Library, Bethel College, North Newton, KS.

Goerz House collection (brochures, newspaper clippings, typescript history). Archives of the Mennonite Library, Bethel College, North Newton, KS.

Heger, Angela, and Kim Manring. David Goerz House [Bethel College (KS)]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 2002.

 

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Last update: November 2006