Experience The Differences And Similarities Of Two Frank House Mansions- One On The UNK West Campus And The Other In Warsaw, NY

KrisAnn Sullivan
Frank House director, 308.865.8284 OR sullivankw@unk.edu

Have an appreciation for history, architecture, art and aesthetics?

Join KrisAnn Sullivan, Frank House director, on Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Frank House, which is located on the University of Nebraska at Kearney West Campus, to examine the similarities between two of the three Frank mansions. Sullivan’s presentation  will take place from 1-1:30 p.m., with a tour and light refreshments to follow.

The first Frank mansion was built in Warsaw, N.Y., in 1864 by George Washington Frank, a town builder who was always on the move. According to Sullivan, from 1864 to 1889, George Washington Frank, and his son George William Frank, built three spectacular homes, the masterpiece being one of Kearney’s most beautiful buildings. George William Frank, the architect of the Frank mansion in Kearney, built the home for his father in 1889.

“He wanted to prove that even on the prairie something beautiful and elegant could be built,” Sullivan said. “His father wanted the house built to entertain entrepreneurs from the East in hopes they would invest in, and contribute to, the expansion of the fast-growing Kearney community.”

As president of the Frank Improvement Co., George Washington Frank played a major role in the industrial development of Kearney. His fascination with electricity led him to pursue projects including an electric power plant and an electric street railway system. He also was involved with the Kearney Cotton Mill, the first cotton mill west of the Missouri River.

George Washington Frank and his family saved Kearney from depression and drought in 1894, while sacrificing their own wealth, Sullivan said. From 1893 to 1895, Augustus Frank, brother of George Washington Frank, furnished much of the money for the Frank Family Enterprises. Augustus Frank’s death in 1895 is said to be one of the major factors in the losses that swept away George Washington Frank’s substantial properties. This was when the Frank mansion was turned over to the family’s financial banker, O.G. Walbridge of Brooklyn, N.Y.

At Frank Talk Saturday, Sullivan will show photos taken at the Warsaw home, and the audience can observe all of the similarities in the Kearney residence. Sullivan said that there will be a little bit of history, and a lot of viewing slides and video. She also plans to have podcasts of an interview with the current owners of the Frank home in Warsaw available on the Web site at www.unk.edu/offices/frankhouse/

Although the Franks built three large mansions over the span of 25 years, Sullivan said, “I think it’s interesting that they didn’t live in them very long.”  

“To me, it’s not really the facts, but the visuals and how, even down to the hardware, the houses were mapped out and so similar,” Sullivan said in discussing the architecture of the two homes. “It’s evident in the photos [of the Warsaw home].”

Sullivan said that when the visitors leave the Frank House on Saturday, she hopes they will have gained respect and an appreciation for the mansion as a complete work of art and the masterpiece that it is. She said she also hopes that everyone is able to see how elements in the first Frank house were developed in the house in Kearney.

“Why should people attend this event? I say, because they are interested in the history of the house and the Franks,” Sullivan said. “It’s about examining the evolution of Mr. and Mrs. Frank’s architectural taste before they came to Kearney. It is important to understand this house’s aesthetic feel.”