Parrish/Harris/Slone House

This is the Harris/Slone House
on North Franklin Street.
It is scheduled to be restored.

Mary Childers Slone left her entire estate
to the National Trust, including the house,
money and a wide variety of furniture.

I will add more information as I gather it.


This picture, provide by Craig Asbury, came
from a 1875 Adair County Atlas


From the Kirksville Daily Express July 4, 2004 

Architect plans make-over for Kirksville landmark

By Erica Mercer
A local landmark will be taking on a new look in the near future.

The 129-year-old house on the corner of North Franklin and Burton street is now under the control of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which is currently reviewing restoration plans for the property.

Susan Richards Johnson, an architect specializing in historic preservation from Kansas City, Mo., and associated Julie Cawby visited Kirksville on Thursday and Friday to begin making preparations for the project. The National Trust hired the firm to renovate the house's exterior.

The property was deeded to the Trust, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of historic property, after its last owner Mary Slone died in April 2003.

The house was built in 1875 by Captain Thomas C. Harris. Harris, a New York native and officer with the Union Army during the Civil War, is said to have owned the historic woolen mills in Kirksville. He also served as a city councilman in 1875 and later was appointed Justice of the Peace.

The house has changed hands numerous times since its construction. It was bought by Dr. John Burton around 1890, only to be sold to Dr. A. Washington Parrish around 1895. Victor and Bert Parrish, two of Parrish's sons, took ownership of the property after his death.

Everella Murdock, a family friend of the Parrish's, began renting the first floor of the house in 1939, only to acquire full ownership of the property in 1951 when Bert Parrish died. After her death, Murdock left the property to her daughter, Mary Childers Slone.

Slone moved to Nebraska in the 1980s to be with her son George. The house has been empty ever since. George died in 2002, leaving Slone with no relatives to care for the house.

Richard Douglas McClain, Slone's lawyer and friend in Lincoln, Neb., said Slone treasured the house and talked of it often.

Michael Mulford, executor of Slone's estate, said she left her entire estate to the National Trust, including the house, money and a wide variety of furniture.

George Siekkinen, senior architect for the National Trust, came to visit the property earlier this year. The National Trust opened up the restoration project to area architects about three months ago, Richards Johnson said.

She said several people referred her firm to Siekkinen. She also said she was excited to be working on the project.

This week's trip was devoted to field measure and to document the existing conditions of the house. This process will help to create base drawings for her team and record of the existing state of the house.

Next, a consultant from part of Richard Johnson's team, Historic Preservation Services, will be doing historic reviews and research to compile a document about the historic value of the house, the community and events in Kirksville from around the time the house was built.

Richards Johnson said she will return in a few weeks with a more staff to assess the house and draw up plans for the exterior restoration.

This first phase of the project will deal with wall movement, water infiltration, grading around the existing building, window and roof repairs and the removal of a northwest wing and garage that were added to the house sometime within the last 50 years.

Richards Johnson said compared to other properties she has worked with, the condition of the house is fair.

"It's at a point in its life where if something isn't done very quickly, it will go to really poor [condition] in a very short amount of time," she said.

Richards Johnson said the lack of heat in the building has led to the deterioration of the home. Several sections of plaster have tumbled to the floor from water leaks freezing and expanding. She said it was lucky there was no indoor plumbing because bursting pipes can wreak a lot of havoc.

But the overall construction of the house and detail in it is very interesting, she said. From being in the house, Richards Johnson said she and Cawby believe the north wing of the house was built sometime during the mid-1800s with the Italianate, more impressive section of the house being added on.

A majority of the house's original structure remains intact, including some of the glass, hardware, light fixtures and the large staircase and banister inside the front door.

The monitor, the structure at the top of the roof which is mostly ornamental, was removed in 1965 because it leaked. It was replaced shortly thereafter and is in good condition, Richards Johnson said. It still leaks but she said she thinks it has the original floor and windows.

Richards Johnson said bids for the project are scheduled to be opened sometime in mid-September with the hopes to have construction completed before winter.

Siekkinen said after this first phase of restoration is completed, the National Trust will develop an easement to protect the property and then sell it to a preservation-minded owner. The owner will then be responsible for the remainder of the restoration while following guidelines imposed by the easement.

Verlin Wilhite was appointed administrator of the property after Slone's death. He said he has known her since 1955 and has been doing odds jobs for her for many years. After she left Kirksville, Wilhite would assist Slone when she had problems with the property.

Slone hired someone else to take care of the grounds, he said.

Wilhite said most of the restoration is unfolding the way Slone wanted it, but he thinks she wanted the house to be more like a museum.

"It's one of the neater things to happen in Kirksville," he said.
 
 

From the Kirksville Daily Express ... Saturday, May 28, 2005

This Old House: University volunteers excavate historic Parrish House for National Trust renovation project

By MATTHEW WEBBER/Daily Express News Reporter

KIRKSVILLE - After one morning of work, a group of volunteer archaeologists had unearthed bone fragments, dog teeth and a piece of a bottle.

But the professors and students digging and sifting at one of the oldest houses in Kirksville on Friday were more excited about the dirt.

More specifically, they were curious what the dirt, concrete and other levels of earth could tell them about the history of 1308 N. Franklin St., a 135-year-old house left empty for the last 20 years.

"We're just kind of getting the sense of what this space is and what the different textures of dirt are that we're encountering," said Amber Johnson, an assistant professor of anthropology at Truman State University, a few hours after beginning work.

"Most of what archaeologists do is not very glamorous," Johnson admitted, as clouds of dust rose behind her.

"It's learning to pay attention to the colors and textures of soil and paying attention to whether there are tiny little pebbles or charcoal in it, which tells us about what activities might have been like in the past."

From Friday until sometime later this week, Johnson, her husband, Lewis Binford, and five university students are excavating and mapping part of the lawn at the old Thomas Harris House, or Parrish House, at the corner of Franklin and Burton streets, to try to uncover those activities.

The information they gather will help the National Trust for Historic Preservation determine how best to renovate the house and return it as closely to possible to the way it looked when Capt. Thomas C. Harris, a Union officer during the Civil War, had the house built for his family around 1870, according to a document prepared by the National Trust.

Until Thursday - two days ago - when a two-man construction crew toppled the walls, the space in which these seven volunteers are sweating and raising dust was the foundation for a family room, which is believed to have been built as an addition sometime in the 1950s.

Before that, the space is believed to have been a wooden porch, which the National Trust plans to re-create, said Johnson, whose findings so far corroborate the existence of the porch.

However, due to the composition of soil at the dig site and its proximity to a former well, Johnson believes the house's former inhabitants used the space for other purposes throughout its past.

"The hard-packed dirt places are telling us that this was a space that wasn't just lawn and gardens, or not just the loose dirt under a porch, but it was actually a place where people probably kept it swept clean and may have done other activities outside the house," Johnson said.

"This would have been a major traffic zone from the house to the well."

The usage of the family room/porch space has changed almost as frequently as the house's ownership.

In 1895, a local doctor, Albert Washington Parrish, bought the house, where he and his family lived for nearly 40 years.

Several other families have owned the house, which has been sitting vacant and unoccupied since 1982 or 1983, when its most recent owner, Mary Childers Slone, moved out, with only the occasional vandal entering the property.

After Slone died in April 2004 and left the house to the National Trust in her will, the organization's senior architect contacted Johnson to inquire about architects in the area.

Johnson volunteered herself and her students for the project, so the students, four of whom had never participated in an archaeological dig before, could get hands-on experience in their chosen field.

"I thought it would be a good excuse to get a few of my students some experience doing archaeology and seeing how archaeologists work and what they can learn from changes in the texture in soil and little tiny scraps of things," Johnson said.

She and her students have been proceeding with the work with caution, "just kind of starting from scratch," she said.

"We're piece-plotting, which means we're getting the three-dimensional coordinates of anything we find in situ, left in place," she said. "They're doing mapping of each three-meter-square grid as we go.

"Then we'll have all of that information so we can do a map, not only of the current surface, but, each time we go down a layer, we'll have a new map."

Although movies often portray archaeology as an exciting adventure, full of hidden treasure and other priceless artifacts, the Kirksville volunteers are finding the reality of archaeology is slower-paced but no less exciting.

"A lot of the allure of archaeology is the big, fancy stuff and the cool artifacts. Everybody imagines digging for treasure and finding really cool things," said Johnson, pointing out the remains of concrete pilasters in the dirt.

"[But] we're getting excited about finding little tiny scraps of burnt bones, because it's something where you can say something about activity."

From the bones to the pilasters to the dusty process of mapping, senior Ashley Young said he appreciates having the chance to learn some of the history of the famous house and the tools of his future profession.

"This is my first introduction to actual field archaeology, so everything I'm doing here I'm learning is really helpful," said Young, of Princeton, Mo.

Perhaps more importantly, the first-time excavator has the opportunity to get his hands dirty for a fun - and once-in-a-lifetime - summer project.

"It's very interesting," Young said.

"You don't want to go too fast because you might overlook something.

"You don't want to come into the dig with any presuppositions or presumptions as to what you're going to find and kind of treat everything objectively as if everything you find is in some way important.

"By nature, it's a destructive process. We can't go back and do it over again. This is the only time it's ever going to happen."

After the volunteers map the site and collect artifacts, they will prepare a report for the National Trust that will help the organization renovate the house.

After that, Johnson isn't sure what will happen to the house, although she thinks the National Trust will try to sell it to a preservation-minded buyer as a residence, bed and breakfast or tourist attraction.

"We're hoping they'll be able to fix it up some and have something fun happen at the house," Johnson said. "I'm looking forward to seeing what happens."