The Charles Curtis home is one of Topeka’s brightest architectural and historical jewels. It honors a man few people know anything about, but should.
Curtis' great-grandfather was a Kanza chief, and his grandmother was half Kaw. After Curtis’ mother died when he was only 3, he went to live on the Kaw Reservation in Council Grove, where he remained until 13. While there, he learned to speak French, Kaw and English. Curtis then moved to Topeka to live with his paternal grandmother. He eventually became a lawyer, serving as a United States representative and senator before taking office as vice president under Herbert Hoover, the first man from west of the Mississippi to hold the position. Want to learn more? Pick up an updated version of a 1928 book From Kaw Teepee to Capitol: The Story of Charles Curtis.
A local couple saved Curtis’ home from the wrecking ball and transformed it into one of Topeka’s top five tourist attractions. Listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places as well as the Topeka Landmarks Register, the 1878 brick house features a curved structural wall and an undulating metal roof. Current owners Nova and Don Cottrell have meticulously restored and refurnished the facility with lovely period antiques and reproductions complementing the intricately carved woodwork, leaded-glass windows and ornate fireplaces. Tours are $5 and last approximately 45 minutes.