Plumb Place

Preston Plumb

The historic home of Emporia founder and Civil War veteran, Preston B. Plumb, is currently up for sale.

The house, known as Plumb Place and located at 224 E. 6th Ave., had been a women’s shelter since 1921 but was forced to close its doors in December of 2020 due to financial issues.

The sale of the building was recommended by the Plumb Place Steering Committee in order to raise money to revive the emergency services the building provided, according to an article on KVOE.

Plumb Place is currently listed at $199,900 and is an open listing among the three major brokers in Emporia. The final permission to sell the house came from the Lyon County District Court almost two weeks ago, according to Jamie Sauder of Coldwell Banker. Sauder is not aware of any offers that have been made to buy the house, yet.

Preston B. Plumb

Plumb was born in Ohio but moved to Kansas in 1856 to support the Free State Movement, according to the ESU Archives website.

“He arrived at Topeka on the 6th of September, 1856, bringing 250 Sharp’s rifles, 250 Colt’s revolvers, 250 bowie knives, 20,000 rounds of ammunition for the rifles and revolvers, and one brass twelve-pounder cannon,” according to an article on kspatriot.org.

The next year, Plumb helped found Emporia and its first newspaper, Kansas News.

In 1862, Plumb helped raise the 11th Kansas Infantry and participated in the pursuit of William Quantrail after the Lawrence Massacre. By the end of the war, Plumb was a lieutenant colonel.

After the war, Plumb was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives and later became a U.S. senator, civilwaronthewesternborder.org.

A continuing legacy

After Plumb’s death in 1891, his wife Carrie remodeled their house and dedicated it to him as a memorial, according to an article on clio.com. When she died 1919, the house was donated to the Y.W.C.A. More renovations were done to add dormitory rooms thanks to donations from her two sons, according to the article on clio.com.

Plumb Place has been a “refuge” for women since 1921, according to the Plumb Place website.

The building became the Community Center of Lyon County in 1955 after the Y.W.C.A chapter in Emporia disbanded, according to clio.com. The community center served as housing for low-income women.

In 1976, The Emporia Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution added a plaque to the house in honor of Plumb and his family. The house was listed in the National Register and the Kansas Historical Places Register in 1984, according to clio.com.

Additionally, the offices of the Flint Hills Girl Scouts Council were housed on the ground floor of the building, according to cliocom.

Closing its doors

Plumb Place officially closed its doors on Dec. 31, 2020, according to an article from the Emporia Gazette. The reason for the closure was insolvency, or the board’s inability to pay off their debts.

The main cause of these financial struggles was the theft of over $50,000 by a former employee, according to the article.

“According to the report filed July 9, 2018 with the police department, a loss of $51,362 was reported between Jan. 1, 2014, and April 30, 2017,” the article stated. “A discrepancy in the shelter’s financial reports was initially discovered by board members in June 2017, and at that time, the board requested a one-year audit for fiscal year 2016, and then a four-year forensic audit.”

The United Way of the Flint Hills stopped funding Plumb Place after the theft. Plumb Place would have been able to get the funding back after meeting several stipulations which included a fraud examination, board training and updated policies and procedures. Partial funding was restored that year, but Plumb Place failed to meet all of the stipulations, according to the article.

Fundraising events had been planned by the board for 2020; however, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the board to cancel all but two of these plans, according to the article.

All of the contents of Plumb Place were sold during an auction on Oct. 2 of this year. The proceeds from the auction will become seed money for a revised agency to provide emergency services for women, according to a KVOE article.

The auction raised $16,000 and a tour with a paranormal investigation of the building raised another $1,200, according to the article.

“The current plan is to funnel money from the home sale and prior fundraisers to a revived Plumb Place Board of Directors,” the article stated. “The board will determine the scope of services for women — and possibly their children — needing emergency help.”

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