Charles Curtis State Office Building
(can you see the State Capitol reflected in the middle windows?)
----- It's Official! -----
As of 1:45 pm, on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2001; the Signature Building has been officially named by the Public Building Commission, as the CHARLES CURTIS State Office Building. The vote was unanimous. There were many VIP's on hand to witness this special occasion, Topeka Mayor "Butch" Felker, President Jerry Farley of Washburn University; with others who helped in this project, Representative Lana Gordon R-Topeka, Councilman Duane Pomeroy, Don Chubb, just a few names of the many who helped; The North Topeka Historical Society, NOTOMA, I thank you all for the support throughout this long campaign.
"Building honors Curtis"
by Chris Grenz firstname.lastname@example.org
Wed. Dec. 12, 2001
A standing-room-only crowd erupted with applause and cheers on Tuesday when the state's newest public building finally got the name they were all hoping for.
From now on, the five-story building at S.W. 10th and Jackson streets will be known as the Charles Curtis State Office Building.
State employees moved into the $52 million building more than five months ago. But the structure - the first new state office building in downtown Topeka in 25 years - has been known only as the Signature Office Building.
That changed on Tuesday afternoon, when the Topeka Public Building Commission, the body responsible for choosing a name, unanimously voted to honor Curtis, a native Topekan and former U.S. vice president.
"Finally! At last, he gets recognized somewhere," said an exuberant Ann Andrews. Andrews built a Web site about Curtis - www.vpcharlescurtis.net - when she was a student at Washburn University. She has remained an ardent supported of honoring him with the building's name.
"In today's politics, it's dog-eat-dog, I'll scratch your back if you'll scratch mine," she said. "Curtis wasn't like that. He was very open. He was very honest."
The commission had been considering two nominations - one in favor of Curtis and the other for the late Gov. Robert Bennett, who served from 1974 to 1978. Curtis served as vice president under Herbert Hoover from 1929 to 1933. He is the only native Kansan and the only Native American to become vice president.
His name was endorsed by the 2001 Legislature, the Capitol Area Plaza Authority and the Topeka City Council.
Rep. Lana Gordon, R-Topeka, was the primary sponsor of the resolution that found nearly unanimous support in the legislature. Gordon has talked to people from across the state who supported naming the building for Curtis, many of whom came to Tuesday's meeting.
"It's very exciting. I'm happy the decision was finally made," she said after the meeting. "There was such a wonderful amount of support for it."
Sen. David Adkins, R-Leawood, initially voted in support of the Curtis resolution. But at a hearing last month, Adkins spoke in support of his friend Bennett. He had a change of heart because he believed naming state buildings after Kansas governors was a tradition. But Adkins said he wasn't disappointed with Tuesdays decision.
"In my view, it was always a win-win scenario," he said. "Curtis is a great Kansan and a great choice. Governor Bennett would be pleased that he's a Republican, at least."
Topeka City Council member Duane Pomeroy supported the council's endorsement of Curtis. On Tuesday, he brought 29 students from his Topeka High School government class to the meeting. His class had been following the issue's progress. The building was to have been named last summer before occupants moved in.
"They think things move too slowly," he said of his class members.
One student, Mariana Caballero, a 17-year-old senior, said she and her classmates didn't know much about Bennett or Curtis until they started following the naming progress. Most, if not all, of the students backed Curtis, she said, and they were glad he got the nod.
Joyce Glasscock, interim secretary of administration and a member of the commission, said a sign will be ordered soon, and a ceremony will be scheduled when it is ready.
"This is an excellent way to honor someone who has done so much for the state," she said.
There was little debate or discussion during Tuesday's meeting. But after the vote, Rep. Phil Kline, a Republican from Overland Park who also is a commission member, said he had known Bennett for decades.
"I miss him," Kline said of the late governor. "But I think what we've done here today is the right thing to do."
Charles Curtis State Office Building
"A Stately Name"
"It is time we gave this native Kansas pioneer the recognition, and immortality, he richly deserves."
Tue. Dec. 11, 2001
Since the beautiful new state office building opened this summer at S.W. 10th and Jackson, it has been referred to as the Signature Office Building.
Today, they'll finally put a name with the signature.
As a reflection of the majestic Kansas Capitol bounces off the new building's shiny windows, the Public Building Commission will be meeting at 1:30 in Room 220-S of the Statehouse to choose between naming the latest addition to the Capitol complex after formed Gov. Robert Bennett or formed U.S. Vice President Charles Curtis.
Either way, the building will get a stately name.
Still, no disrespect intended to the late Gov. Bennett, but it would be a real shame if this new structure weren't named after Charles Curtis - a native Topekan, 38-year member of Congress and the first and only man of American Indian extraction to have risen to the level of both Senate majority leader and U.S. vice president, which he served as from 1929-33 under President Herbert Hoover.
Some folks make much of the fact that two other buildings that reside in the shadow of the Statehouse have been named after governors. That hardly qualifies for "tradition". But even if it did, should we be a slave to it? Better yet, what of the heretofore nonexistent tradition of naming buildings after vice presidents from Kansas? (There has been only one.) Or, for that matter, for men and women of native blood who rise above prejudices and social conventions to become national leaders?
The Public Building Commission should consider the discomfiting fact that, all these many years, Mr. Curtis has never received the enduring recognition from his native state that he well deserved.
Here is a native North Topekan and self-taught lawyer who, at the amazing age of only 24 - one year older than the state itself - was elected Shawnee County attorney. He was the first man born in this territory to serve in the U.S. Senate - and was Senate Majority leader long before the world ever heard of Bob Dole. One-eighth Indian, and considered a full member of the Kansa tribe, Curtis was actually a presidential hopeful in 1928 before being asked to join Hoover's ticket.
How many more firsts do you want? Charles Curtis also happened to be the first Kansas senator chosen by popular election, in 1914.
Yet, as much as Curtis made history, history also made him: His great-grandfather settles in North Topeka way back in the 1820's, and his grandmother was a Pappan, having married into the family that ran the Kansas River ferry that ultimately would determine Topeka's location.
"When you look back a century from now," says noted Topeka historian Don Chubb, "Charles Curtis is one in a small group that we will remember.
In the first 150 years of our state's history, no native Kansan has achieved the political recognition earned by Charles Curtis."
But how quick the glory fades. That's precisely why we name buildings after people whose accomplishments we are determined to remember. A name etched in granite, or in good old Kansas limestone, lives on.
There have been other modest efforts to preserve the rich underappreciated legacy of Charles Curtis, including a junior high that has since been razed, a Kansas River band road that time and water have nearly washed away, and a greenway along N. Topeka Boulevard. There is also the safekeeping of his former home, still in private hands, not far from the Capitol complex. His home should be indeed put in a public trust and maintained to a true Kansas trailblazer. But that is not enough to pay tribute to this marvel of homegrown chutzpah.
Fifty years from now, a Kansas school child or a Colorado tourist should be able to walk into the lobby of a 50-year-old state building catty-corner from the Capitol and ask, "Who was Charles Curtis?"
And we should be all too happy to tell them.
"State building remain nameless"
by Chris Grenz email@example.com
Wed. Nov. 14, 2001
The commission responsible for naming the state's newest office building heard testimony about two competing suggestions on Tuesday - but once again took no action.
Although it has been more than four months since occupants began moving into what is known as the Signature Office Building, the structure still has no official name. The five-story, $52 million building is the first new state office building built in downtown Topeka in a quarter century.
The Topeka Public Building Commission is charged with selecting a name for the building. It has received two applications - one in favor of Charles Curtis, a former Vice-President, and the other backing the late Gov. Robert Bennett.
In a hearing before the commission, Topeka historian Don Chubb testified in favor of Curtis, an American Indian born in North Topeka on Jan. 25, 1860. A self-taught lawyer who was elected Shawnee County Attorney when he was just 24, he went on to serve in both houses of Congress for a total of 38 years.
Curtis was the first native Kansan to serve in the U.S. Senate and was the first to serve at the Senate Majority leader, a feat repeated only once since by former Sen. Bob Dole. Curtis was also the first native Kansan - and the only Native American to become Vice-President. (Dwight D. Eisenhower was born in Texas.) Curtis served from 1929 to 1933 under Herbert Hoover.
"There are a lot of significant reasons to name our Signature Office Building for Charles Curtis," Chubb said. "When you look back a century from now, Charles Curtis is one in a small group that we will remember."
The Curtis name has been endorsed by the 2001 Legislature, the Capitol Area Plaza Authority and the Topeka City Council.
Sen. David Adkins, R-Leawood, spoke in favor of naming the building for Bennett, who died Oct. 9, 2000. Bennett served as the 39th governor of Kansas from 1975 to 1979 after serving a decade in the Kansas Senate, the final two years as president of the senate. Adkins pointed out that it is a tradition to name state office buildings after governors, citing the nearby Landon and Docking state office buildings.
"He was a remarkable man of unlimited intellect whose love for state was immense," Adkins said in support of Bennett. "In giving the building Bennett's name, you honor and enshrine the highest ideals of public service in Kansas."
Mary Turkington, vice chairman of the commission, said the members will take the testimony under advisement. She expected another meeting to be scheduled before Jan. 1, 2002, at which time a name will be chosen.
Topeka Public Building Commission Meeting
Tuesday 1:30 pm Nov. 13, 2001
Room 313-S, Statehouse
Presentation for Vice-President Charles Curtis by Topekan Historian Don Chubb
Presentation for Governor Robert Frederick Bennett by Senator David Adkins R-Leawood
Sorry, the naming of the bldg. did not occur.
I was present at the meeting and I caught some things that I don't understand, Senator David Adkins R-Leawood voted FOR Charles Curtis when it was presented as a House Resolution for the 2001 Legislature, but he was making the presentation for Robert Bennett (isn't that wrong?); another thing was the so-called "tradition" of using governors ONLY to name State buildings; has anybody bothered to check this out? In 1987 Governor John William Carlin (1979-1987) named the FIRST state buildings to be named for Kansas governors, Alfred "Alf" Landon and George Docking (the buildings were named by the Kansas governor, NOT a building commission). Senator David Adkins referred to the "tradition of naming State building after Governors" as a reason to name the Signature Building after Robert Bennett, I disagree with this as a "tradition". In My Opinion, Charles Curtis (who died in 1936) with his many years of service (38 years) to the State of Kansas in many capacities (as well as Vice-President of United States of America) far exceeds Robert Bennett's (who died in 2000) record (14 years for the State of Kansas) in Kansas Senate 1965-1974, and Kansas Governor 1975-1979.
GRAND OPENING - Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Signature Bldg. Topeka, 10th and Jackson
10:30 AM Friday, Aug. 24, 2001
Sorry, the naming of the bldg. did not occur.
HCR-5021 will go on to the House of the Senate to be voted on. A committee meeting Wednesday March 21 at 10:30 am will be held.
A vote was done by the Kansas Senate, Thursday night on HCR-5021 and it passed 40-0 !!!
April 10, 2001 -
Topeka City Councilman Duane Pomeroy recommended to the Topeka City Council the name of Charles Curtis as the name for the Signature Building.
April 17, 2001
The resolution to name the Signature Bldg. after Vice-President Charles Curtis passed in Topeka council meeting, 8 yes, 1 abstain (due to conflict of interest, Dan Stanley!)
May 8, 2001 - The Topeka Capital-Journal (Letters to the Editor)
"No one more worthy"In regard to the April 2 front page writing titled "Charles Curtis moniker may not fly": Should tradition dictate that the name for the new state office building be that of a former governor?
What is tradition? One example children would understand is of "George Washington and the cherry tree": - a belief that owes its general acceptance to habit rather than reason.
It does seem that Charles Curtis has not been given the honor that he is entitled to. I read an article recently that Curtis at 9 years of age could speak three languages but could not read. My paternal grandparents left Sweden in 1868; they moved from Rockford, Ill. a year later to what is West Curtis Street in North Topeka, and next door to 9-year-old Charles Curtis and his grandmother. Charles traded my grandmother vegetables (especially squash!) for pencils. They lived neighbors for two years, then my grandmother, with Joel Huntoon's help, signed Homestead papers.
The 70 years my grandmother lived in Kansas, she voted once and that was for Charles Curtis when he was on the ticket for vice president of United States.
Curtis set an example of determination to work for what one needs - his was an education.
Tradition is good; but for just this once I'm hoping the Topeka Public Building Commission will approve the name of Charles Curtis for the new state building.
Frances Lassman - Topeka
May 16, 2001 - The Topeka Capital-Journal (State 3C, 3rd pg.)
"Authority votes to name building after politician"The Capitol Area Plaza Authority voted unanimously Tuesday to name the new state office building nearing completion at SW 10th and Jackson in honor of former Topekan and former U.S. Vice President Charles Curtis.
by Roger Myers
The plaza authority, which has planning and zoning jurisdiction over the Capitol Area Complex, will send its recommendation to the Public Building Commission, which is building the five story office structure and adjacent five story garage.
Dan Stanley, secretary of the state Department of Administration, is chairman of the plaza authority and also is chairman of the Public Building Commission. Stanley said he would carry the recommendation forward to the building commission for its consideration.
The commission will select the name for the new office building.
"I have long advocated naming the Signature Office Building after Charles Curtis" said Rep. Doug Mays, R-Topeka, a member of the plaza authority.
"You can see his former home on Topeka Boulevard from the Capitol. He was about one-quarter Kaw Indian and is the only person of Native American ancestry to rise to the second highest office in the land".
"There have been only two Kansans who were majority leaders of the U.S. Senate, Curtis was one of them, and Bob Dole was the other one".
The Legislature adopted a resolution, sponsored primarily by Rep. Lana Gordon, R-Topeka, urging that the new office building be named for Curtis, but it isn't binding on the public commission.
There are others who are pushing to get the new office building named for the late Gov. Bob Bennett, including Shelby Smith, who was Bennett's lieutenant governor from 1975-79.
Don McCall, the Public Building Commission project manager on the building, told the plaza authority that state agencies will begin moving into the structure in July and should be fully occupied by September.
McCall noted the original contract on the office building called for it to be substantially complete by Aug. 28.
The primary tenant of the building will be the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, which currently is split between the Landon State Office Building, 900 SW Jackson, and buildings at Forbes Field.
The Board of Regents and Stanley's office also will occupy the building.
"We're still looking at July 1 for availability of the parking garage", McCall said.
Topeka Mayor Butch Felker, who is a statutory member of the plaza authority, said the new office building "exceeds anything the governor and started talking about six years ago".
Felker was mayor in the 1990s before choosing not to run in 1997. He was elected to a new term as Topeka mayor in April.
The plaza authority also endorsed Stanley's proposal for landscaping the Capitol Complex Area that would establish guidelines and standards for the types and locations of future foliage in the area.
Stanley said the plan also would address lighting and signs for the Capitol complex, which has a hodgepodge of signs and lighting infrastructures throughout the area.
For Your Information - The ultimate decision will be made the same public building commission that asked for names originally.
WHY is the public building commission dragging its heels about making its formal selection for the name of new state (Signature) office building located at SW 10th and Jackson ???Please sign my guest book, to let me know what your comments,
suggestions or questions for this website and about Vice-President Charles Curtis
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Return to Home Page http://www.vpcharlescurtis.net/index.html
Overview of Charles Curtis life
Timeline A: The Indians in Kansas
Timeline B : The timelines of Kansas and the USA
Timeline C - Major events and Famous Firsts
Biography A : Charles Curtis and his extended family genealogy.
Biography B : Charles Curtis (before going into Politics)
Politics and Beliefs of Charles Curtis
Legacy left by Charles Curtis
Memorials and donations
Charles Curtis home in Topeka, Kansas
Resources and recommended books for reading.
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