Couple reviving Linwood’s Harris House
A Los Angeles couple soon will reopen a banquet facility at the 123-year-old Harris House west of Linwood.
Steve and Ann Hertzog, and their 2-year-old son, Sam, moved in mid-January to Linwood, making their home in the historic Harris House. The house, built in 1883 by U.S. Sen. William A. Harris, overlooks Linwood from the west on Kansas Highway 32. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In May, the Hertzogs plan to reopen the Harris House banquet facility, which has been closed for two years. And, they will locate their photography business, Linwood Road Studio, in a remodeled dairy barn near the house.
For the Hertzogs, who previously lived in a 1,500-square-foot home in Los Angeles and worked in the motion picture advertising industry, the move marks a dramatic change in their lives.
For one thing, they'll be able to spend more time together as a family. In Los Angeles, Steve said, he and Ann frequently worked 60 to 70 hours a week.
"They cancel your vacations at the last second because a project needs your attention," Ann said.
Steve added, "You're either married to your business, or you're the second or third tier. We just decided at this point in our lives, let's do something else."
They decided to start a new life in Kansas.
Ann said that at their new business they'll likely be working 70 hours a week. But she said it would be different, because they'll be together, working as a family in their own business, doing what they love.
Two years ago, the couple started looking for a home and business site in northeast Kansas. Ann's sister lives in Leavenworth, so they looked there. They also considered Lawrence. But last August the couple found what they were looking for in a town they had never heard of -- Linwood.
It was 11 miles from Lawrence, about 30 miles from Leavenworth, and the house had a commercial kitchen and room for banquets. Plus, there was the building out back for the photography studio.
A good match
The idea of cooking for a crowd appealed to Ann.
"I love cooking," Ann said. "We've been cooking for dinner parties, and baking. It brought all these wonderful things together."
While the home's main floor includes a 400-square-foot dining room where indoor dinners can be held, Steve and Ann want to take their entertainment outside, as well.
They plan to make tents available for outdoor weddings and receptions, as the previous owners did. And, they're planning more.
"We're going to build a Victorian style pavilion that works with the house," Steve said, noting the pavilion will be north of the house and may extend over a portion of the hill.
In addition, Steve said he looks forward to landscaping the house and pavilion. The work will include a water garden.
"We want to create a real nice atmosphere for people to want to come here and get married," Steve said.
The landscaping will complement the couple's photography studio, giving them scenic backdrops for outdoor photography.
In Los Angeles, Steve and Ann worked on photo shoots together, first taking pictures of their family, and later, photographing their friends and their families. They graduated to photographing weddings.
In Linwood, the couple plan to focus their photography business on high school senior photos, family pictures, business portraits and weddings.
And they're already thinking about how that will tie in with the weddings and other events that will take place at the Harris House.
A room upstairs is earmarked as the bride's dressing room.
The Hertzogs already are thinking about how they'll light the house to photograph the bride as she walks down the open stairway.
Getting to know you
As the Hertzogs are getting settled in their new home, which has 4,900 square feet on the first and second floor, they also are getting acquainted with their neighborhood.
They've visited the grade school in Linwood to meet the principal and teachers, and to see where their son will attend classes.
They're getting to know the roads. After years of fighting bumper-to-bumper LA traffic, Steve noted his delight with driving on southern Leavenworth County's scenic roads.
"It's wonderful," he said. "And there's no traffic."
And, they're getting acquainted with the wildlife in their back yard. On a recent afternoon as Sam pulled toys out of his nearby toy box, Steve glanced out the kitchen window and said to Ann, "Look honey, our red headed woodpecker is back."
Though Steve, who grew up in New York City and New Jersey, has never lived in Kansas, Ann is a native Kansan.
She grew up in Kinsley, a southcentral Kansas community of some 1,600 residents. Ann's parents, Al and Sally Frame, still live in Kinsley and have strong ties to northeastern Kansas. Both attended Kansas University. Al Frame received an undergraduate degree in 1956, and graduated from KU's law school in 1962. He was a KU athlete who was named NCAA cross country champion in 1954 and 1955. In fact, at KU's cross country course, Rim Rock Farm, one of the steel silhouettes is of Al Frame.
And, the Frame's five children, including Ann, graduated from KU. Though Steve is an alumnus of Emerson College in Boston, Ann said he has become a KU fan as well.
"Steve's an honorary Jayhawk now," Ann said.
The couple is eager to learn more about the history of their home. They've been to the Linwood Community Library where they read a book about their house. And they're hoping to talk to people who can tell them about the Harris House.
Meanwhile, they're unpacking boxes, hanging pictures and taking time to enjoy the simple things their new country life offers.
For instance, the first night they settled into their new home was Jan. 18 -- Ann's birthday -- and the sunset, visible from the kitchen window, caught their attention.
"There was this beautiful pink purple sunset," Ann said. "So it was kind of a birthday present -- we all went out on the back porch and watched the sun set."