David Goerz HouseCategories:
- Local Historic Register
The David Goerz House, built in 1893, was designed by Elbert Dumont in the Queen Anne style. The home is significant as the first residence built on Bethel College Campus, for David Goerz, founder of Bethel College, and for its embodiment of the Queen Anne style designed by, Wichita architect, Elbert Dumont.
Reverend David Goerz, and his wife Helene, arrived in Kansas in 1875 settling in Halstead. He served as the editor of Zur Heimath, a Mennonite newspaper, manager of Western Publishing House, and secretary to the Mennonite Board of Guardians, an agency set up to aid the newly immigrated Mennonites from Russia. In 1877, Goerz was instrumental in organizing the Mennonite Teacher’s Conference of Kansas, which led to the organization of the Conference that later became the Western District Conference. During this time, he was in the midst of discussion among Kansas Mennonites regarding the possibility of a new school and elected to serve on a board in 1878, along with six others, to plan for this proposed school. After considerable planning, the Emmatal School was opened in the Alexanderwhol community for one year. Following its closure, Goerz was the central figure in the organization of the Halstead College Association, which was incorporated in May 1883. That September, the Halstead Seminary was dedicated. Its support by the Kansas Conference was sometimes uncertain and funding struggles ensued. It was during this time when an offer came in from the Newton College Association to locate a Mennonite college there. A special session of the conference was held in April 1887 where Goerz, Bernhard Warkentin and J. J. Krehbiel were given the tasks of accepting the Newton offer and forming an association. By May 1887, the charter for Bethel College was filed with the Kansas Secretary of State.
Reverend David Goerz is credited with most of the fundraising activities to build the first building for Bethel College, today the Bethel College Administration Building. Goerz also served as the first business manager of Bethel and, in 1897, became pastor of the Bethel College Mennonite Church. He continued to the serve the college until ill health took over in 1910 when he retired to Colorado, and later California, in hopes of improving his health. Reverend David Goerz passed away on May 7, 1914. In his obituary, he is also credited for the organization of Bethel Hospital and Mennonite Mutual Fire Insurance Company.
Rudolph Goerz, David’s son, and his wife, lived in the home following David’s retirement in 1910. They were well known for their entertaining and often shared their meals with students. As Bethel College continued to grow, the need for student housing was becoming an issue. In 1921, Rudolph offered the home to the College for less than its value. It was dedicated as Goerz Hall later that same year and it served as a dormitory and faculty housing until 1963. One notable vocal instructor, J. O. Kesselring, stayed in the home from 1921-1923. He is the author of the Broadway play Arsenic and Old Lace. From 1963 to 1988, the Western District Conference had their offices to the first floor. Following their departure, the home was restored and today, it is home to the Bethel College President.