Tonganoxie house recognized on registry on National Historic Places

TONGANOXIE, Kan. -- A purple house in the middle of a Tonganoxie field is now on the map of National Historic Places.

Dr. Kent Porter and his wife Olga live in the house, which was built at the end of the 19th century.

He said, “We basically have disassembled the house and put it back together over the last 20 years. The reason it takes so long, I tell everyone, is because perfection is a cruel mistress! Our goal was to do Cora justice by recreating her house in that same quality, and I think we’ve done that.”

Cora Wellhouse designed and built this home in the middle of her family’s apple orchard, the largest in the world at the time, on 2,000 acres west of Kansas City. Her father Frederick Wellhouse was a Civil War captain and state senator.

Porter said, “When Lincoln was here in 1859, they renewed their friendship.”

The family was well-known, and many people brought stones to the property so they could use them for the house. Cora spent two years sorting them by color and size.

Porter said, “They started the stone foundation in 1898. Cora and her husband moved in in 1903. Her father’s health was declining, so he joined them in 1905.

Last month, the home – Stonehaven Farm – was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“This is an important artifact in America, Kansas, this region. So really, it belongs to everyone. This home will be here long after we’re gone,” Porter continued.

The couple lives here and has spent years reading the notes and speeches of the woman who built this home.

Porter said, “I think we’ve sort of recreated what she wanted, and if you don’t do that, history disappears. You walk on the beach, you make footprints, the tide changes, there was no evidence you were ever there. So what we’ve tried to do is put some footprints above the tideline.”

Stonehaven also won an award from the Kansas Preservation Alliance. The porters do offer tours of the home.