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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pratt-Campbell Mansion in Wichita, KS - designed-built by William Henry Sternberg

This wonderful brick mansion on North Emporia in Wichita, KS is still standing today! Built c. 1887-1888 by William Henry Sternberg (1832 - 1906), it features multiple fireplaces, ornate wood porches, fancy corbelled chimneys, a three-story tower and a roof-line broken with many angles. The Pratt Campbell Mansion at 1313 North Emporia is confirmed to have been designed & built by William Henry Sternberg. This residence resembles other Sternberg homes from a number of stylistic features including "helter skelter" roofline broken by a variety of pitches and dormers. Aside from the eyebrow dormers at the very apes of the roof, there are no curved elements to this house. Like the Sternberg Mansion & the Greiffenstein Mansion, this structure is a mix of angularity. Extremely tall, ornately corbelled chimeny flues are a another familiar feature of Sternberg residences.

This house in the 1300 block of North Emporia was built c. 1887 - 1888 for George Pratt, a prominent lumber baron of the day. City directories indicate that Mr. Pratt was living at 142 North Emporia in 1888 and moved up-the-street to 1313 North Emporia in 1889. Mr. Pratt moved to Wichita from Wisonsin and worked for years as the manager of the Chicago Lumber Company (which was at the corner of Broadway and First Street). The Chicago Lumber Company was one of the largest lumber yards in Wichita and remained so even after the economic boom. M. C. Campbell also who had been living in the 1200 block of North Emporia also moved up-the-street when he purchased this home from Mr. Pratt in 1899. Today it is commonly known as the Pratt-Campbell Mansion. Campbell was a developer of the Kansas livestock industry.

The Mansion is very tall with high ceilings and quality hand-detailed woodwork throughout. A number of other custom features about this home are worth mentioning. When built, this home was outfitted with a gas lighting system (from Chicago). Each individual gas light was lit by a electric sparking igniter giving an instant on/off capability to the gas lighting vs. the usual hand-lighting of gas lights via a long pole. The house is also known for having been the first in Wichita to have a laundry chute. This novel step-saving feature was one way in which Sternberg designed homes for the comfort and ease-of-use of their occupants.

Today, the tall chimneys have been taken down to the roof-line and the carriage house is gone. Additional charming homes have in-filled the neighborhood, but none are as tall or as elegant as the Pratt-Campbell Mansion. This grand home is a designated Local Landmark.

Years before this house was built, Sternberg was promoting himself as both an “architect and builder” of homes, specifically “designing and drafting” services. An advertisement for Sternberg, Hall & Co in the 1869 - 1870 Chenango County, New York Directory noted, “Being Architects and Builders themselves, they know just what is wanted for a house and how to prepare it. Give them your patronage if you would have everything in first-class style.” Some have tended to think of W.H. Sternberg as mainly a contractor, but indeed the architecting and design services that he did himself were a substantial portion of his business

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