Four homes open doors for Topeka’s College Hill tour

Washburn president to be inducted into Wall of Fame

Scott and Gina Holloman moved to the College Hill neighborhood in April 2002 with their three young children. Before they purchased the 1920s-era Mediterranean Revival at 1515 S.W. Jewell, the Hollomans were looking at new construction on the southwest side of town.


Scott discovered the College Hill home when he was running one day and convinced Gina to go and look at it because of its location.

“We needed a larger house for our children,” Gina said. “Scott’s sister worked at Randolph (Elementary), and we wanted our kids to go there.”

She fell in love with the eclectic blend of Spanish Colonial and Italian architecture featuring a trademark red tile roof and stucco siding. The Hollomans became the fourth owners of the home.

The Hollomans’ home and three other College Hill houses will be open to the public from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 15 as part of the annual College Hill Historic Homes Tour. In addition, the induction of Bryan Sewall Stoffer, one-time president of Washburn College (now Washburn University), to the Wall of Fame will take place at 4:30 p.m. at Boswell Square.

Built by architect Charles Cuthbert for physician Milton Miller, the Hollomans’ home boasts a front entryway that runs the length of the house, providing natural cross-ventilation when both front and back doors are open. The original slate flooring in the hallway is in the process of being refinished back to its more natural state.

Alongside photos of the Holloman children, now in their teenage years and beyond, is a black-and-white rendering of the house as it stood in 1920, which has been passed from owner to owner throughout the years.

While many things about the house have stayed the same, it also has been brought into the modern era over time.

Originally heated by coal and then oil, the house now has central heating and air. What once served as a maid’s room off the kitchen was converted into a breakfast room, and some of the kitchen cabinetry has been updated. The butler’s pantry was converted for functionality, and a kitchen island was added to increase counter space.

The Hollomans have chosen appliances with a period appearance as a nod to the home’s 1920 beginning.

New French doors frame the entrance into the sunroom, and the home has fresh interior and exterior paint, as well as resurfaced hardwood floors in the bedrooms. The Hollomans also moved the basement laundry room to the main floor for ease of use.

Even with updates and modern conveniences, the home exudes a charm that can only be found in houses of days gone by. The wavy glass windowpanes, common in College Hill homes, are original, and crown molding and built-in display cabinets grace the formal dining room.

An enclosed extension off the kitchen features a lean-to roof and was used by the milkman for deliveries.

A main-floor washroom is tucked away under the front staircase, complete with original 1920s tile work. Adjacent is a small coat closet, which makes use of every available inch of space.

Two staircases lead to the second-floor sleeping areas. The family would have used the front staircase, while the back stairs were reserved for the servants of the home.

An original porcelain tub remains in the bath the Holloman children shared, while a replica period soaking tub was brought in to replace the original tub in the master bath. The sleeping porch was converted into a fourth bedroom.

In addition to falling in love with the house, the couple also grew to love the neighborhood, seamlessly blending their lives and the lives of their children into the fabric of College Hill through Fourth of July parades, chili feeds, numerous events and play dates at nearby Boswell Park, and an annual haunted house and Halloween party that the neighborhood children designed and operated themselves at the Holloman home.

“This neighborhood is very vivacious, and the neighbors are very friendly. There was everything community here,” Gina said.

Community is what keeps College Hill resident Gail Kennedy in her home as well. Kennedy purchased a 1926 brick American Foursquare at 1520 S.W. MacVicar in 2014 with her husband, Bobby, who was an adjunct professor at Washburn University. The home will be featured during this year’s home tour.

“We didn’t really choose College Hill,” Kennedy said. “I think College Hill chose us. We were looking for ranch homes, and the Realtor asked if we wanted to see it between appointments. People waved at us when we were coming in. It seemed like the neighborhood was friendly.”

The front porch was the next thing that drew Kennedy to the house.

The traditional American Foursquare style of architecture called for a four-room-over-four-room layout that could be modified by builders through varying construction materials and finishes to make each unique.

Kennedy’s home has finishes typical to many College Hill houses, such as a fireplace and crown molding.

One unusual feature for a home of its period is the three-car garage, which was added in 1996 by previous owners, Norman and Betty Bomar, who lived at the property for 40 years.

The Bomars brought in central air in 1980, and a large wooden deck followed in 1987. They also partially finished the basement, adding a half bath, with the help of their son, Nolan, and updated the kitchen at least twice over the years they lived there.

In 2004, the Bomars hired Joe Little Construction to build a 400-square-foot addition that created a family room, laundry room and additional bathroom at the back of the house.

Kennedy has made her mark on the property as well, adding landscaping with the help of her brother.

She also has had the hardwood floors sanded and varnished, skim coat put on the walls, and ceilings refinished, and has done a complete remodel of the basement, which included the addition of a full bath.

“This lets people see what they can do with a 90-year-old house,” Kennedy said. “If they’re looking for a home, not a house, and a neighborhood that’s a real neighborhood, this is it. I know my neighbors of two years better than the neighbors I lived by for 25 years. They look out for one another.”

Shanna Sloyer is a freelance writer from Topeka. You can reach her at



When: 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 15

Locations: Craftsman bungalow

Address: 1328 S.W. Plass

Year built: 1932

Owner: Elizabeth Herbert

Features to look for: Natural light provided by the home’s many windows.

Colonial Revival

Address: 1435 S.W. Jewell

Year built: 1922

Owners: Joe and RaLynn Schmidt

Features to look for: Custom cabinets in the master bath.

Mediterranean Revival

Address: 1515 S.W. Jewell

Year built: 1920

Owners: Scott and Gina Holloman

Features to look for: Original slate floors in the entryway.

American Foursquare

Address: 1520 S.W. MacVicar

Year built: 1926

Owner: Gail Kennedy

Features to look for: Updated kitchen and living space addition at the back of the house.

Tickets: $5 in advance at Flowers by Bill, 1300 S.W. Boswell Ave.; Porterfield’s Flowers and Gifts, 3101 S.W. Huntoon; University Flowers, 1700 S.W. Washburn Ave.; and Hy-Vee Topeka, S.W. 29th and Wanamaker; $6 at the door of tour homes on day of the event.


Bryan Sewall Stoffer, eighth president of Washburn College, now known as Washburn University, will be inducted into the Wall of Fame at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 15 at Boswell Square.

Stoffer was president from 1942 until his death is 1961. During those 20 years, Washburn had its greatest growth, increasing from 700 to more than 4,000 students and greatly expanding the number of buildings on campus. Stoffer led Washburn’s evolution from a private college to a municipal university.

Refreshments will be served in the gazebo.