Built in the 1860s and furnished with many family belongings, the Goodnow house reflects domestic life in the late 1800s.
After attending a rousing antislavery lecture by Eli Thayer in Providence, Rhode Island, in December 1854, Isaac Goodnow and his brother-in-law, Reverend Joseph Denison decided to emigrate to Kansas. By March 1855 Goodnow had organized a company of two hundred men and women, who located the townsite at present-day Manhattan where the Blue and Kansas Rivers meet. Manhattan grew rapidly as a free-state community.
From the slavery controversy, Goodnow turned his attention to building a Methodist school, Bluemont College. In 1859 construction was completed on the three-story limestone structure, which stood a short distance northwest of the present site of Goodnow House. In February 1861, after returning from a trip East that included a visit with Abraham Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois, Isaac and his wife, Ellen, purchased six acres of land in sight of the new college. Construction started immediately, and they moved into the two-story stone house in November 1861.
Goodnow's next project was to make Bluemont College the state university, but the politics involved in locating the state capitol, university, and prison worked against Manhattan. Topeka, Lawrence, and Lansing snatched these plums. However, in 1863, Goodnow was successful in transforming Bluemont College into the Kansas State College of Agriculture and Applied Science, a part of the national land grant college system.
At the same time, Goodnow was appointed state superintendent of public instruction. He logged thousands of miles traveling by horse around the state organizing school districts and giving lectures. Through his efforts, girls and boys received equal educational opportunities. Goodnow started the Kansas State Teachers Association and became its first president, he sold land for the college endowment, and later acted as land agent for the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad.
The Goodnows had no children, but they adopted his niece, Hattie Parkerson, when her mother died. Except for six years spent in Neosho Falls, the Goodnows lived in this house until their deaths at the end of the century. Hattie never married. She adopted one of her sister Etta's sons, Louis. When Hattie died in 1940, the house passed to Mary Payne, a friend of Hattie's, who later donated it and many of the Goodnow's belongings to the Kansas Historical Society. The house was approved for listing in the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and today operates as Goodnow House Historic Site.
Entry: Goodnow House
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: August 2002
Date Modified: March 2013
The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.