Wednesday, January 22, 2014

History of the Tefft House, Topeka, Kansas.

The Tefft House was also known as the Windsor & the National Hotel.
Publish date 1905, as the National.
Push to enlarge.
History of the Tefft House, 1860-1905.

The most famous hotel in Topeka was known as the Tefft House, situated on the northwest corner of Kansas avenue and Seventh street. It was a modest building at first, occupying a single lot on the corner, which was bought in 1859 by Dr. Erasmus Tefft for the sum of $300. It was an isolated location, far above the center of business, but is now the most central business corner in Topeka. Dr. Tefft erected the original building in 1860, a stone structure, 17 by 25 feet, and two stories in height. In 1865 he added the lot on the north at an expense of $700, and made the hotel into a three-story building. 50 by 60 feet in dimensions.

Two years later an addition was constructed in the rear of the original buildings, 95 by 35 feet in dimensions, four stories in height, with a mansard roof. In 1868 the front part was also increased to four stories. The building was leased in 1866 to James Harris and John Beasley. Harris sold his interest to J. A. Burr, and the firm become Burr & Beasley. It was leased in 1867 to Henry D. McMeekin, an old and popular citizen of Kansas, under whose management it was again enlarged, and became the political and legislative headquarters of the State a position it retained up to the time of the opening of the Copeland Hotel.

Some of the most celebrated senatorial elections in Kansas were planned and practically consummated in the so-called "dark and fitful recesses of the Tefft House." In the period between 1867 and 1880 it entertained all of the public men of Kansas and was the scene of many brilliant social functions. McMeekin retired from the management in 1871, but returned in 1875, with Samuel Hindman as his partner, the business in the meantime having been conducted by E. A. Smith and Williams & Babcock. J. W. Hartzell became associated with McMeekin in 1876, and in 1878 the building was bought from Dr. Tefft by Dr. J. J. Burtis for $24,000.

Three years later Burtis sold to Allen Sells for $25,000. After undergoing extensive repairs, it was leased to Hankla Brothers and opened as the Windsor Hotel. In later years the managers were C. M. Hill & Company, Passmore & Wiggin, Odell & Forward and W. W. Smith. The entire property was bought in 1889 by the First National Bank of Topeka, and the building reconstructed into its present form, the bank occupying the corner room on the main floor, and the rest of the building being devoted to hotel purposes, under the name of the National Hotel. The National was opened in 1890 by Hankla Brothers, and a few years later passed into the hands of Manager Charles L. Wood, who is now at the helm.

Workers of the Tefft House 1874.
S. B. Babcock & Williams, Proprietors.
A. Breckley, Pastry Cook.
J. Carry, Waitress.
M. Carsey, Waitress.
G. Dewitt, Clark.
William Edwards, Telegraph Operator.
Josephian Jacobs, Waitress.
William Jones, ( Colored ), Cook.
Albert Kempton, Cook.
Bella Leabhard, Waitress.
K. Linn, Chambermaid.
M. McClusky, Waitress.
K. McKinsey, Waitress.
L. McKinsey, Waitress.
M. McKinsey, Waitress.
N. McKinsey, Waitress.
William May ( Colored ), Porter.
M. Nottrott, Pantry Girl.
T. Papor, Cook.
Mary Parker, Domestic.
Mattie Pask, Waitress.
M. Reed, Waitress.
Mollie Roberts, Waitress.
Sanford--( Colored ), Cook.
Jennie Snodgrass, Waitress.
Adda Snork, Waitress.
E. Swanson, Chambermaid.
James Walling, Steward.
Lidy Winder, Waitress.
Ella Wyatt, Chambermaid.

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