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Historic rock home remains in good repair

Staff writer

What does it take to maintain a house that is almost 140 years old?

William and Linda Kroupa of rural Marion know because they live in one.

The small, limestone, picturesque house sits atop a hill approximately two and one-quarter miles south of Lincolnville on U.S.-56/77.

It was built in 1868 by Thomas J. Wise, Jr., for his bride, Mattie Campbell, on 160 acres claimed under the Homestead Act of 1862. Stone for the eight-room, two-story house was quarried nearby.

Thomas Wise Sr. and his son, Thomas Wise Jr., of Missouri, first came to the area in 1859, on their way to the gold mines of Colorado.

The Wise family moved to the area in the early 1860s. Thomas Wise, Sr. partnered with Jack Costello in running the Lost Springs Station on the historic Santa Fe Trail and took it over in 1868, when Costello moved to Marion.

Wise’s daughter, Margaret, purportedly taught an eight-week session of school on the banks of Clear Creek. Abigail, another daughter, married Costello.

Thomas Wise Jr. was active in the early days of Marion County. He acquired a post office in his home in 1965. In 1967, Marion County Commission appointed his house as a “Lincolnville” voting precinct.

Wise even drew a plan for a town of Lincolnville to be located on his property, but the town ended up being platted two miles to the north.

The Wise family lived in the area until 1909. A large framed photograph of Thomas Wise Jr. and his wife, Mattie, hangs in the foyer of Marion Historical Museum.

In 1966, James Cott, a farmer living one mile south of Lincolnville, found a stone with the name William Wise and the date 1894 inscribed on it.

With the help of the Marion County Record, it was determined to be the name of the youngest son of Thomas Wise, Jr. He was 16 at the time the stone was inscribed.

The Wise farm was purchased by William Strauss and sold in 1910 to the Henry Riffel family. More land was added as time went on.

Henry and his wife moved to Lincolnville in 1930. The farm continued to be operated by his sons.

Herbert Riffel bought the farm from his brothers in 1953. He and his wife, Frieda, remodeled the house, installing modern conveniences.

A den was added to the L-shaped home, with a large window looking out over the expansive bottomland along Clear Creek to the west. This was Herbert’s favorite room.

A garage also was added.

Frieda died in 1980, and Herb continued to live there until shortly before his death in September 1990.

The farm was sold in 1991 to Edmund Kroupa and sons, William and Martin.

William and his wife Linda, lived in the house for eight years after its purchase. They found the foundation “rock solid,” and no cracks in the walls.

They sandblasted the painted stone to return it to its original condition.

Paneling was removed from the south side of the front room to expose the interior stone wall.

The Kroupas left the area in 1999, but they stayed at the house whenever they returned for visits.

They returned in 2006 to live in the house full-time. They continue to make improvements and do the necessary maintenance to keep the house sound.

A few walls in the back rooms have been removed to make a larger kitchen, and new kitchen cabinets have been installed.

The den was remodeled into a bathroom, and a double-wide patio door was installed in the kitchen to preserve the view.

Plaster has been replaced with Sheetrock in most of the rooms.

A new portico was built over the front door. Red-colored mulch matching the shingles on the roof forms an attractive groundcover for several decorative grasses and flowering plants.

Wall furnaces and window air conditioners are used to heat and cool the house. Many times, the air conditioner is not needed.

“I’m intrigued at how well the air flows through this old house,” Linda said. She said the biggest drawback is the lack of closet space, a problem common to older homes.

Regrouting has been done on the exterior to replace cracked concrete between the stones. This ensures the house will endure for future generations and will continue to delight those who pass by.

William Kroupa has a degree in mechanical engineering and works in Wichita. Linda is a substitute teacher. They have two sons, Clark, 13, and Raleigh, 11.

Last modified Oct. 1, 2008

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