The Thomas and Anna Herbert House, now owned by Rob and Ronda Hassig, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The house is located at 512 South Judson St.
The heavy plaque noting the registration sits inside the Hassig home, waiting for a pole to be built to attach it to, since it is very heavy.
“Having the house on the National Register of Historic places means the Herbert House gets the recognition it so richly deserves,” Ronda Hassig said. “Rob and I both feel strongly that this designation will also keep our beautiful home safe even after we are gone. We love the Herbert House and are hoping that the Heritage Trust Fund Grant from the state of Kansas will come through and we can do some much-needed repairs on the exterior of the house!”
“The reason the Herbert House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places is because of the Queen Anne architecture and style,” Ronda said. “When the historical architect first visited us to help with the National Register application, she literally walked through the front door and said ‘This is a slam dunk!’ The Queen Anne style was based on the premise of ‘decorative excess” and that is exactly what the Herberts did!”
About Thomas Herbert
“Thomas Herbert worked for the government and happened through Fort Scott on one of his business trips after the Civil War and fell in love with the town,” she said. “He bought the lots on Judson in the early 1870s but didn’t build until 1887/88. He married his wife Anna in 1873 at the Episcopalian church.”
“Mr. Herbert owned a store at Second and Wall Street that had paint, wallpaper, and home decor items from all over the world, kind of a mini-Home Depot,” she said. “He was from Canada and learned painting as an apprentice in Buffalo, NY.”
“He…decorated some of the most beautiful houses in Fort Scott so he was quite the artist,” Ronda said. “When the town renovated the Opera House, Mr. Herbert painted all of the Egyptian figures on the walls and ceiling of the theatre! He would definitely be considered one of the founding fathers of Fort Scott.”
Herbert was a Mason of the 33rd Degree, so he spent time at the Scottish Rites Temple, she said.
Description of the Herbert House
“We have lived in the house for almost four years and we still find little decorations inside and out that we haven’t noticed before,” she said. “The hand carved woodwork would have been done back East, and then would have been shipped by train. A builder would have built the house to suit the Herberts. We don’t know who the builder was but whoever it was they did a really nice job!”
The house is 6000 square feet including a full attic, dry basement and coal shoot, and 4000 square feet of living space with 5 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, music room, living room, dining room, modern kitchen and library/den.
“My favorite room is probably the dining room because of the Czechoslovakian chandelier and the Mark Twain fireplace,” Ronda said. “Mark Twain liked to watch the snow fall and the fire blaze at the same time so there are two flues and a window above the fire box!”
“The library/den, half bath, and 5th bedroom were added to the house in 1930 by Dr. Wilkening who lived in the house longer than anyone else,” she said. “The music room was actually his office.”
Renown photographer Gordon Parks was friends with one of the more recent owners of the house, Ken and Charlotte Lunt.
“Gordon Parks was very good friends with the Lunts and he visited the house often in his later years,” she said. “He held court in the front burgundy velvet antique chairs by the round window whenever he visited. We’ve hosted the Gordon Parks Celebration VIPS that last two years so that David Parks (Gordon’s son) can see the house again every year.”
“The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archeological resources.”