Historically Speaking: The Hardesty House

Kathie Bell
Special to the Globe
The Hardesty House at Boot Hill Museum.

Depending on how long you have lived in Dodge City, you might notice the Victorian house at Boot Hill Museum has moved a few times.

Named "Hardesty House," it was constructed by Alonzo B. Webster in 1879. This home originally sat on land near Arby's restaurant at what is now 811 West Wyatt Earp Boulevard.

The house is named after Colonel Richard "Jack" Hardesty and his family who were the house's first residents. It was one of the finest homes in early Dodge City. Jack had garnered his wealth from mines in Montana and Colorado as well as from his share of a ranch in Indian Territory.

His wealth opened great connections with other wealthy and influential people. One of these was with Fred Harvey, of Harvey House Restaurant and Hotel fame.

Fred Harvey, and his wife Sally, invited Richard Hardesty, along with important businessmen, politicians and other ranchers, to their lavish Fourth of July 1879 festivities at Lakin, Kansas.

The entire Harvey family attended along with Sally's single 23 year-old sister, Margaret "Maggie" Mattas.

Still unmarried at 46, Hardesty was one of the most eligible bachelors in the west. At the evening gala held at the Lakin depot hotel, Maggie danced with Jack Hardesty. Just a few months later, on Feb. 26, 1880, the two wed at the Harvey's home in Leavenworth.

That year, Hardesty bought this home for his new bride.

He put a great deal of expensive furniture into the home, with $1,000 worth from the firm of Abernathy, Doughty and Hall of Leavenworth alone.

Their only child, Sallie, was born in Hardesty House on July 26, 1883. The family owned the house until 1914 when Margaret sold the house to the D.W. Gilmore family after Richard's death in 1910.

Margaret Hardesty passed away in the 1930's. Sallie, who died in June 1955, never had children or married.

The D.W. Gilmore family had moved to Dodge City in 1907 and had six children. Originally, Mr. Gilmore was an oil well driller from Pennsylvania.

In Dodge City he was first a grocer, later an engineer for the City of Dodge City and finally a plumber who had a hand in the modernization of many Dodge City homes.

The Gilmore's did little to change the home with the exception of adding bathrooms and modernizing of the kitchen. It was sometime during the Gilmore's ownership the house was moved the first time.

It was just a few feet to make room for the extension of West Chestnut (Wyatt Earp Blvd).

The family spent close to 55 years in the house. Shortly after the Gilmores moved out in 1969, the house was slated for demolition during the late 1960s and early 1970s Urban Renewal movement.

Fortunately, Skelly Oil Company bought the house, donated it to Boot Hill Museum. The Company moved it a second time to near the spot of the Museum's Union Church.

In 2002, the house was moved a third, and hopefully last, time.

This move was a few yards to another spot in the Museum complex to make room for Applebee's Restaurant.