As you drive around Junction City take a moment to look at the buildings. You see that many of the old buildings are made of limestone. Not surprising since we have an abundance of it right here.
In fact we had quite the industry because of the accessibility of the limestone in this area. The best building limestone was located about 12 to 15 feet underground. When it comes out of the ground it is extremely workable but will gradually harden with exposure to air and the elements.
There are two types of limestone quarried in this area, yellow and white. Yellow was used for many of the early sidewalks in Junction City because when quarried it often came out in sheets. White was much more desirable for the buildings because it could be cut in larger blocks.
The Junction City Sawed Stone Company, started by Major O.J. Hopkins, was one of the first commercial businesses in Junction City. At its peak it employed 60 men and sold $1500 worth of stone per month. They operated out of the McFarland Quarry, one of the first in the area.
You can see that our forefathers wholeheartedly supported the limestone industry as many of the city and county buildings were built using it. They must have been on to something because the buildings have certainly held up admirably. Junction City limestone was so desirable that it was also used in building the east wing of the capital building in Topeka.
Driving around Junction City looking at all of these beautiful buildings made me wonder about the people who designed them.
James C. Holland was one of the most well-known and prolific Kansas architects around the turn of the twenty century. He was born 1853 in Lima, Ohio. He studied architecture at Northern Ohio Normal School for two years before attending Cornell University in New York. After graduation he returned to Northern Ohio Normal School to teach.
In 1885 James and his wife Elizabeth traveled to Topeka, Kansas. From 1895 to 1897 he served as the state architect. Highlights of his Topeka career include all but one of the homes on Governor’s Row and the building of the central wing of the capital under his supervision. His work can be seen across Kansas in courthouses, jails, schools, churches, and commercial buildings.