Created By: Old Cowtown Museum
The McKenzie House located in the Residential Area of Old Cowtown Museum is representative of a rental property within the city. The House interprets a rented house occupied by a single middle-class schoolteacher. The woman possibly was someone who had "gone West" and left her extended family in search of adventure and a good man. This was not an uncommon story in the 1870s. In 1878, the population of Wichita on the East side of the river was estimated at 4,200. Of those, the City Directory listed the residence and occupations of 99 single women. Many of these ladies were widows residing in their own homes. The rest rented or “boarded” their residences. The occupations listed most were laundresses, followed by domestics such as cooks, chambermaids, and waitresses, but a number of single women owned their own successful businesses such as dressmakers and milliners.
The parlor in the McKenzie House was considered a special room. The nicest furnishings occupied the room, and great care was taken to maintain the newness and "specialness" of the room. However, because this type of home had only one parlor, the woman would have used it more frequently than a formal parlor in a larger home. Although company would have been entertained in the parlor, she may have gathered here in the evenings as well.
The bedroom area reflects the lifestyle of a single woman. The furnishings such as the bed, dresser, and artwork were typical and necessary for a singles woman to functhion in Victorian society.
A sparse kitchen is not featured in the building. The Kitchen would contain a cookstore that provides warmth to the whole house.
The McKenzie House was owned by Leo McKenzie whose family owned the Wichita Carriage Works. It is believed to have been built in the 1880s. Research shows that it may have been located at 3rd and Water Streets. The McKenzie family owned several rental houses. The home - along with the Story-and-a-Half House - were donated by the McKenzies and moved to Old Cowtown Museum in 1961.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Old Cowtown Museum Tour