Fall 1999

Our President's House

If Walls Could Talk, What Would These Walls Say?

This 1939 Parnassus photograph of William M. Jardine shows the university's chief executive posed in his new colonial-style home looking at a photo of the newly completed president's house.

In 1996 Joe Walsh bought a deteriorating old home at 1604 N. Fairmount. His grandparents lived there, and he had fond memories of his time with them. The lead guitarist for the Eagles, Walsh said he wanted the home because he enjoyed the pace of life it represented. He restored it and while it is not occupied at the present time it undoubtedly looks as good as the day it was completed in 1890. Walsh probably was not aware that this also was the home of President Nathan J. Morrison, the first president of Fairmount College, when he arrived in Wichita in 1895. Since then the university's presidents have lived in several locations in the city.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the president's house at 1820 N. Hillside. Built during the Depression, the house cost about $21,000. It was partially funded by the federal Public Works Administration and $12,000 from university funds. While President William M. Jardine was a prominent Republican, having served as secretary of agriculture in the Coolidge Administration, he certainly did not let that interfere with his interest in obtaining PWA funds from the Roosevelt Administration. The house was designed in the Georgian Revival style by C.F. Boucher, a member of the Wichita firm of Overend and Boucher. Wilson and Donnell were the contractors. As part of the federal contract, they had to agree to pay wages at a minimum of $1 per hour for electricians, plumbers and carpenters.

There had been a president's home before. It was built on the campus for President Walter H. Rollins in 1916 and also served Presidents John D. Finlayson and Harold W. Foght. Located at 1822 N. Fairmount just north of where the old Morrison Library columns now stand, the house was eventually leased to the Men of Webster and then moved in 1940 to 1720 N. Vassar. Remodeled, with colonial columns added, it stands today as the home of Delta Upsilon.

The Jardines rented homes during their early years, but this was not a satisfactory situation. It probably was their experience at 947 N. Hillside that accelerated plans for an on-campus home. The house is located just north of the old Frisco tracks, and President Jardine complained that he had to turn sideways in bed to let the trains go by.

When the Jardines moved into their campus home they brought elegant furniture from all over the world. Jardine had served as minister to Egypt in the Hoover Administration, and the completed home was filled with a number of Mideast treasures collected by the Jardines. A large family room was added in 1949 to accommodate the three sons of President Harry F. and Mrs. Corbin. An outdoor porch on the second floor adjoining the master bedroom was enclosed in the 1980's and now serves as a sun room. Today the house contains about 4,850 square feet of living space.

The grounds surrounding the house are beautifully landscaped, reflecting the second important function of the house: serving as a place where university business is frequently conducted and the university community is from time to time entertained. Large group functions often are held outdoors. Shirley Beggs is particularly interested in making the president's home available to various constituencies.

Nine children have a history with the house on Hillside. Ruth Jardine was the first. The Corbins' three sons, Kim, Alex and Jeff grew up in the house. Kim (whose formal name is Harry, III) was 7, Alex was 5, and Jeff was 15 months when their family moved into the house. These ages reflect the fact that President Corbin was reported to be the youngest university president in the nation at the time he was appointed. Kempton Lindquist and John Ahlberg were in middle school when their fathers, Emory K. Lindquist and Clark D. Ahlberg, were appointed. Beth Lindquist and then Pam Armstrong, the daughter of Warren B. and Joan Armstrong, spent their high school years in the house. Tom Ahlberg was a college student when his father began his work but was home during the summer months. Current President Don and Shirley Beggs have two children, Brent and Pam, but they are married with families of their own.

Pets have been a part of the house's history, with President Gene and Dr. Margaret Ann Hughes' Bailey coming to mind as the most recent First Dog. Today Pretty Kitty and Snuggles rule the house as First Cats.

— Dr. James J. Rhatigan


Where the Presidents Lived

YearAddressPresident1895-19031604 FairmountMorrison1904-19071547 FairmountMorrison1908Fiske Hall (Boarded)Thayer1909-19141705 HolyokeThayer1915-19161621 N. HillsideRollins1917-19211822 FairmountRollins1921-19281822 FairmountFinlayson1928-19331822 FairmountFoght1934-19351015 N. BroadwayJardine1935-1936550 N. FountainJardine1936-1937348 N. RooseveltJardine1937947 N. HillsideJardine1937-1939115 S. RutanJardine1939-19491820 N. HillsideJardine1949-19631820 N. HillsideCorbin1962-19681820 N. HillsideLindquist1968-19831820 N. HillsideAhlberg1983-19931820 N. HillsideArmstrong1993-19981820 N. HillsideHughes1999-1820 N. HillsideBeggs


Our President's House

This 1939 Parnassus photograph of William M. Jardine shows the university's chief executive posed in his new colonial-style home looking at a photo of the newly completed president's house. In 1996 Joe Walsh bought a deteriorating old home...

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