National Register Historic Districts

Currently there are 7 separate National Register Historic Districts in the City of Topeka. Collectively, these districts include a total of 435 individual properties. Three of the districts reflect the single-family residential expansion of Topeka during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, while one district reflects a period of higher density residential development. Two of the districts catalogue the broad and lengthy period of commercial and industrial development of the city, while another reflects the early history and growth of one of Topeka’s oldest Catholic parishes.

Topeka National Register Historic Districts

Dating back to the 1880s, Potwin Place Historic District is one of Topeka's oldest residential neighborhoods.  It was listed on the National Register in 1980, commemorating  its centennial anniversary.

Potwin Place is characterized by its large assembly of Queen Anne Victorian homes, wide brick streets, deep setbacks from stone curbs, and well-landscaped circular parks at the center of each intersection within the neighborhood.


The development of the Holliday Park Historic District dates back to the earliest days of the City of Topeka. Though officially developed beginning in 1885, the plat for the area maintains the historic layout established by the Original Town plat which began the City in 1856. Portions of Holliday Park were originally owned by Cyrus K. Holliday, founder of Topeka and of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad.

Holliday Park was constructed as a late 19th Century urban neighborhood within a short walking distance to the City's primary commercial center. It offered a wide variety of housing styles for residents of a variety of professions.

Housing styles include Queen Anne Victorian, Folk Victorian, Colonial Revival, and Italianate.


District Nominations

District Properties & Contributors

College Avenue is the central artery that bisects the surrounding College Hill neighborhood, which lies north of and adjacent to the campus of Topeka's Washburn University. The neighborhood was platted in serveral phases, beginning in 1885.

This historic district was nominated to do its original purpose as the route for an electric trolley line, connecting Topeka's central business district to the campus of Washburn College. Homes constructed along College Avenue consist of Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, Prairie School, Bungalow/Craftsman, and Folk Victorian styles or architecture.


Church of the Assumption Historic District consists of two individually listed religious structures and two additional educational buildings that were historically associated with the Church of the Assumption Catholic Parish. The years of construction for each building within the district range from 1924 (church) to 1954 (rectory garage). All of the structures within the district are listed within the nomination as "contributors."

The two schools within the district are no longer used for educational purposes. Hayden High School has been re-purposed for office uses, while Assumption Elementary School has been renovated for multi-family residential purposes. The church and the rectory are still used in association with the Catholic Parish.


The Mill Block Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015. All 5 structures  contribute to the historic integrity of the district, representing the late 19th and early 20th Century light industrial and warehousing develoment that occurred near the Kansas River and rail lines.

The southeast corner of this district is the location of the first log cabin ever to be constructed in associaiton with the founding of the City in 1854. Today, this district is being successfully redeveloped for adaptive mixed-use of residential and commercial uses.


The South Kansas Avenue Commercial Historic District (Downtown Historic District) encompasses a little more than 9 blocks of the core of Downtown Topeka. Listed on the National Register in 2015, the District embodies nearly a century of architectural styles that directly reflect the progression of Topeka's development as a regional business, retail/commercial, government, and entertainment destination for all of Northeast Kansas.

The district includes a total of 103 individual resources, of which 73 are listed within the National Register nomination as "contributors" to the district.

The State Capitol Building, also listed individually on the National Register, lies adjacent to the west of this district.


The Senate and Curtis Apartments Historic District was established in 2015. The buildings date to 1928 and 1930.

The elaborate Tudor Revival stye of the buildings is the architectural work of renowned female architect Nelle Peters, from Kansas City.

This district consists of two individual buildings, originally designed as booked apartments, but was restored and converted in 1985 for use as a luxury hotel.


About the National Register of Historic Places

The National Register of Historic Places (National Register) is the nation's official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. These properties have national, state, or local significance in the areas of history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and/or culture. Administered by the National Park Service, the National Register program coordinates and supports public and private efforts to identify, evaluate and protect historic and prehistoric resources. Properties listed in the National Register include buildings, structures, sites, districts, and objects.
To be listed in the National Register, properties must be evaluated according to uniform standards established by the National Park Service.

Unless they are of exceptional importance, properties eligible for listing in the National Register must be at least 50 years old. They must retain a substantial degree of their physical integrity from the period in which they are significant. This includes integrity of location, setting, workmanship, design, materials, feeling and association. In addition, properties must possess significance in at least one of the following areas:
  1. Association with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of history;
  2. Association with the life of a person or persons significant in our past;
  3. Embodiment of distinctive characteristics of a type, period or method of construction; and/or
  4. Potential to yield information important in prehistory or history.
Most historic districts are significant under Criteria A and C, illustrating a pattern of development as well as an architectural period or continuum of architectural styles.
In addition to recognizing a property's significance, a number of incentive and protection programs are associated with listing on the National Register:

Historic Tax Credits

the State of Kansas has enacted legislation that creates a state income tax credit equal to 25% of rehabilitation expenses on historic properties ‐‐ both income‐producing and non‐income‐producing. To be eligible for the tax credit, a property must be listed on the National Register of Historic Places or on the Register of Historic Kansas Places and the rehabilitation work must protect the property's historic character.

National Register properties that are used for income‐producing purposes may also be eligible for an additional federal tax credit equal to 20% of qualified rehabilitation expenses. There is an added review at the National Park Service, but the standards to which the project is reviewed are the same as at the state level. The minimum investment threshold is 100% of the adjusted basis and it has to be met within 24 months. For the federal tax credit program, there is a 5‐year recapture period where the building cannot be sold or any portion of the ownership change.

Protection from Undertakings

National Historic Preservation Act
Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires federal agencies to consider the effects of their undertakings (such as projects receiving a federal license, permit or funding) on properties listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register. If a federal undertaking threatens to harm such properties, the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) must be consulted to consider ways to avoid or minimize damage.
Kansas Historic Preservation Statute
Additional legislation in Kansas requires that the State of Kansas and any political subdivision of the State (county, township, city, school district, special district, regional agency, redevelopment agency, etc.) to not undertake a project that encroaches upon, damages or destroys any National and/or State Register property until the SHPO reviews the project and makes recommendations to the local agency. The agency/subdivision must prove that it made an effort to exclude or minimize harm to the property. The law also provides an appeals process for judicial review and civil enforcement.

Owners of properties that are individually significant or that contribute to a historic district who wish to make changes that require government permits (including building permits) must submit their plans to the City for review by the City and SHPO staffs. They will review the plans using the "Secretary of the Interior's Standards and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings." These standards guide owners in rehabilitating historic buildings in a manner that ensures their functionality for modern living while preserving their historic character. The standards include guidelines for new construction as well as rehabilitation.


Properties listed in the National Register are automatically listed on the Register of Historic Kansas Places and can compete for the 80/20 matching grant funds available annually from the Kansas Heritage Trust Fund for selected stabilization and/or rehabilitation projects.
Property owners or a professional consultant prepare a nomination for individual properties or groups of resources (historic districts) that describes the physical appearance of the nominated resource(s) as well as their historical significance. The nomination is submitted to the SHPO. The SHPO notifies property owners and local officials and invites them to comment, object or support the nomination. If the owner of an individual property or a majority of property owners in a district objects to the nomination, the property/district is not listed.

After the public notification period, the Kansas Historic Sites Board of Review considers the nomination. If the Review Board agrees on the eligibility of the property, the nomination is forwarded to the National Park Service for final consideration and for listing.