Memorials

Several landmarks in the Emporia community — and further away in Lawrence, Kan. — have been dedicated in William Allen White's honor. Many of the sites are now recognized as national landmarks.

 

Memories of William Allen White
William Allen White died January 29, 1944. Below are various editorials and tributes to White after his passing.


Wichita Eagle — "The world long has put the personality of Will White as an inseparable part of modern America and America has given Kansas an added identity in him. The thousand brilliant facets of his outstanding gifts have become as much a part of the life of the people of this commonwealth as in the sunshine of their prairies!"

Salina Journal — "Above all things the Emporia editor was a Kansan. When the state was attacked, he defended. When things went wrong, he preached encouragement and optimism. When evil flourished in political or social problems, he went on the war path. Born with the spirit of a crusader, crossed with kindly, friendly, sentimental tendencies, he never dared let his right hand know what his left was doing. In his passing the nation as well as his home state have lost a valiant fighter for all that is worthwhile. His place will not be filled."

Topeka State Journal — "There is something about William Allen White that to me seemed as elemental as Pike's Peak. His rugged soul had a way of enveloping all. It was boundless. There was no dissembling about Mr. White. He said what he was. Regardless of what he may have thought yesterday, if there was reason for changing his ideas because of having seen the problem from a new angle or new light, he changed his ideas by just that much. His genius will be a part of the annals of Kansas. He lies down to rest and his soul becomes to Kansas evermore as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land."

Henry J. Haskell, editor of The Kansas City Star, speaking at White's funeral — "We are met here this afternoon as the friends of William Allen White to show our respect and affection. We are met in a chapel that seems empty without him. Yet in a larger sense this chapel is not empty. It is crowded with memories that are more than memories- with enduring achievements that live on in the generation that he touched and moved and influenced.

"When we met him in person or on the printed page, we came like Bunyan's Pilgrim to the Interpreter's house. For primarily he was a great interpreter of life- of the human comedy or tragedy that passed before him. Interpretation was his technique. He was a preacher of righteousness, of sane and wholesome and unselfish living. But he preached largely by revealing to us our own hearts and the hearts of others...

"Behind all his work was the personality of the man. He was a great human being- great in intellingence, in understanding, in courage, in zest. Life to him always was a glorious adventure. 'I never have been bored an hour in my life,' he wrote on the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday. 'I get up every morning now wondering what new, strange, gorgeous thing is going to happen, and it always happens at fairly reasonable intervals. Lady Luck has been good to me. I fancy she is good to everyone, only some people are dour, and when she gives them the come hither with her eyes, they look down or turn away and lift an eyebrow. But me, I give her the wink and away we go!'"

President Franklin D. Roosevelt in a telegraph to Mrs. White — "My heart goes out to you and Bill in the loss of a beloved husband and father. The newspaper world loses one of its wisest and most beloved editors in the death of William Allen White.

"He made The Emporia Gazette a national institution. As a writer of truth, forcible and vigorous prose, he was unsurpassed. He ennobled the profession of journalism which he served with such unselfish devotion thru more than two score years. To me his passing brings a real sense of personal loss, for we had been the best of friends for years."

Kansas Senator Arthur Capper — "William Allen White, sincere citizen and great editor, chose to live most of his useful life near the scenes of his youth. Yet his deep sympathies knew no boundaries of space, religion, color or nationality.

"William Allen White's recognition of the civic responsibilities of the profession of newspaper editor has been in a large measure the means by which his chosen profession has attained the place of honor which it holds today in the eyes of his countrymen. He championed democracy. He was an advocate of the freedom of the press...

"The newspaper profession has lost an inspiring leader. His state and his nation have lost a Christian citizen. The world has lost a friend."
William Allen White's House
William Allen White: Haunting Memories
by Kelley Weiss, class of 2003

In the middle of the night distinct footsteps coming up the stairs echoed through the house and started down the hallway towards their bedroom. The dog came into the bedroom and lay down next to the bed. David Walker clearly remembers that night in Emporia when he stayed in William Allen White’s house for a night with his wife Barbara White Walker, William Allen White's granddaughter. The only problem is that when the dog came into the room Walker couldn’t see it and neither could his wife. Walker insists the dog was a ghost. This occurrence of extraterrestrial meetings was not the first in the house.

The house is now vacant as the Kansas Historical Society prepares it for the public, but the spirits are said to still roam the house. David Walker related the story of when the head appraiser for the historical society stayed in Emporia for a week working on cataloging the house. She stayed in the house for the first couple of nights working into the early morning. For several nights she said she felt the presence of someone else watching her from behind while she cataloged in the dining room . On one particular evening around 1 a.m. she felt a cold draft behind her in the dining room. After feeling the coldness and having the intense feeling of being watched, she decided to leave. She left that evening and stayed in a hotel for the rest of her stay in Emporia. When William Allen White and his family also reported spirits present, although the White's believed the ghosts were non-threatening. Some believe the spirits could be the ghosts of Almerin Gillette and his wife. Hist wife allegedly committed suicide in the home.

The house carries a rich history. Almerin Gillette, a cattleman and lawyer, built the house to impress his young wife, who moved from New York City to Emporia in 1885. The market crashed prior to the completion of the house and Gillette could not afford to finish building it. The Gillettes lived in the uncompleted home for 14 years. During that time, Mrs. Gillette, who was not happy living in a small town, was troubled by the couple's financial difficulties. Rumor has it that she eventually became depressed and committed suicide in the home, though the cause of death was never determined. It is rumored that her spirit roams the many rooms of the White home.

In 1899, William Allen White leased the house and then bought it in 1901. The Whites completed construction on the house, which included expanding the living room to hold the many guests for their famous parties. Sallie White, William Allen White’s wife, chose walnut wood to replace the flooring in the living room. She bought the wood from her brother who owned an orchard farm in Lyon County. Prior to the expansion, the living room area had four different rooms. All the walls were taken out and the space became one open area. The house is recognized for its architecture and contents. William Allen White traveled the world and collected several artifacts over the years that now are valuable antiques and collectibles.

Two years before William Allen White’s daughter died, she designed the plans for her dream bedroom. Fourteen-year-old Mary White, his daughter, didn't want any furniture in the room and chose a “minimalist” design. She didn't want a bed in her room. Instead, she designed a space outside of her room to house her sleeping quarters. This space was big enough to hold a small cot. Mary White put the cot on wheels so that she could wheel it in and out of the room. Unfortunately, White’s daughter died in a horse-riding accident prior to the completion of the renovations.

In the backyard a small rectangular pool sits empty today. Several rumors circulate about its purpose. White family members dispelled a rumor that a nude William Lindsay White floated in the pool day or night. He did enjoy floating in the pool, but wore swimming trunks. The rumor mill started because William Lindsay White had a robust belly--the only portion of his body visible while floating in the pool. The concrete pool originally served as a fish pond, then as a natural system to collect water from the roof to be used in the yard.

William Allen White lived in the house until his death in Jan. 29, 1944. His son, William Lindsay White, lived in the house after his father, but only for the spring and summer seasons. During the fall and winter, William Lindsay White and his wife, Kathrine White, lived in New York City, where his daughter, Barbara White Walker, went to school.

When Katherine White died in 1988, Barbara White Walker inherited the house. Since then, Walker heated and cooled the house, kept the electricity on and maintained the grounds. The Walker family gave the house to the Kansas State Historical Society in 2001. It is now operated as the William Allen White House State Historic Site.


 
Attractions in Emporia, Kan.
William Allen White Attractions and Memorials in Emporia, Kan.
 
William Allen White House State Historic Site
927 Exchange St.
P.O. Box 426
Emporia, KS 66801
(620) 342-2800


Lovingly called "Red Rocks," this house is a national landmark. William Allen White rented this house from 1899 until he purchased it in 1901. It was his home for 45 years. The two-and-a-half story house features rough-hewn red sandstone ashlar on the first floor exterior walls. Matching red brick stretchers stucco and simulated half-timbers make up the second and attic levels. The red sandstone exterior gives the house its name. Frank Lloyd Wright designed the main staircase. The house was taken over by the State of Kansas Historical Society in 2001. It is now operated as a state historic site.
Emporia Gazette and Museum
517 Merchant St.
(620) 342-4800


In 1895 William Allen White purchased The Emporia Gazette. The newspaper remains a White Corporation publication. The Gazette is operated by the fourth generation of the White family. The exterior of the building has been remodeled through the years, yet the character of the building and newspaper remain intact and White's presence is still found within. Visitors are invited inside the paper to a small museum of old newspaper equipment including a Linotype machine, hand-fed printing press, and samples of old comics. Tours are given by appointment and there is no admission charge.
William Allen White Library and Special Collections Emporia State University
Corner of 12th Ave. and Merchant St.
(620) 341-5034 or 1-877-613-7323


The William Allen White Library serves the informational needs of the students and faculty of Emporia State University. It also houses the School of Library and Information Management. The ground breaking for the library was in February 1950, and the building was formally dedicated in April of 1952. The four storied, red brick library now has space for over 600,000 volumes after a 1971 addition. Several unique and special collections are found in the library. The William Allen White Collection contains books, manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, and other materials about White and The Emporia Gazette, as well as a desk he used while editor. The Mary White Collection honors White's daughter who died at 16, and includes samples of her schoolwork, photographs, and personal belongings. The Mary White room in the library's basement houses the children's collection. Every year since 1952, the children of Kansas have chosen, by vote from a master list, a book to receive the William Allen White Children's Book Award. William Allen White Library has always been the home of the award, and all of the nominated and winning books are on display. Library tours are given by appointment, and there is no admission charge.
William Allen White Elementary
902 Exchange St.

William Allen White Elementary School sits directly across the street from White's house, the William Allen White House State Historic Site. The school was built in 1951 and displays White memorabilia. Written histories of White and his son, William Lindsay White, also adorn the hallways. Visitors are welcome to browse the halls to view memorabilia.
Peter Pan Park
S.E. of the Peter Pan Lake at S. Rural St. and Randolph Ave.

The White family gave the 52-acre Peter Pan Park to the city of Emporia in memory of their daughter, Mary White. It was said that, like Peter Pan, Mary White did not want to grow up. On the southeast edge of Peter Pan Lake is a bronze bust of William Allen White looking out over the scenery. This memorial was dedicated on July 11, 1950, by former President Herbert Hoover. Each side of White's bust is flanked with bronze castings of the editorial entitled "Mary White" in remembrance of his daughter, who died at age 16 in a horse-riding accident.The park is open year round.


William Lindsay White Memorial Park
Next to The Emporia Gazette 517 Merchant St.

The midtown park commemorates the contributions of not only William Allen White but of his son, William Lindsay White. A bust of W.L. White (1900-1973), sculpted by Anne Darrow, is the main feature of the park. The park also includes sections of writings by the two men etched in bronze plates on the walls that border two sides of the park. The park features shade trees, old-fashioned park benches and street lamps. The park is open year-round.

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