The fourth episcopal home, where the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, Wichita, is now located, was purchased in 1900 for $8,000. It was used by two bishops until 1932 and was razed in 1949 to make room for the church. (Wichita photo archives)

By Father Michel Peltzer, Diocesan historian
Throughout 131 years in the history of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, six of our 10 bishops (not counting our first Bishop Rev. James O’Reilly, who never made it to Wichita due to his untimely death in 1887 before a letter of his appointment from Rome reached him) lived in several places before a permanent residence could be erected on the campus of our Catholic Life Center in northeast Wichita, next to the Priest Retirement Center.
Before Bishop John J. Hennessy came to Wichita in 1888, three rooms in the old St. Aloysius Pro Cathedral rectory were set aside for him, but he never took up residence there. Instead, he rented a suite of rooms in the newly built Carey Hotel in downtown Wichita for a short period of time. The hotel was later renamed Eaton Hotel and is still standing. The famous Carry Nation destroyed a bar in the building in 1900.
After a few month’s stay at the hotel, the bishop rented a small frame house at the northwest corner of Third and Washington, east of downtown, near what is now St. Anthony Church (then St. Boniface). This house, as the second episcopal residence, was remodeled to meet the needs of a bishop’s home and chancery office. Again, his stay at this home was only a few months.
In 1889, Bishop Hennessy acquired a huge brick dwelling in the College Green area at west McCormick and Sheridan, now the site of today’s Newman University. As the third episcopal residence, he used this as his home for 12 years. In 1901, he sold this house to the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, who used this home as their convent and academy called St. John’s Institute, until it was razed in 1925, shortly after the completion of their new convent,now the present Administration Building of Newman University.
The fourth episcopal home, located at 3800 E. Douglas in the College Hill neighborhood at east Wichita, was a three-story brick and limestone residence built in 1886 as a private home. Bishop Hennessy lived there from 1901 until his death in 1920.
He was succeeded by Bishop August Schwertner, who lived there from the time of his arrival in 1921 until 1932, when he acquired a smaller home in the same neighborhood a few blocks away. Meanwhile, the large mansion at 3800 E. Douglas became a convent for the Sisters of St. Joseph teaching at Blessed Sacrament School next door. This was the arrangement from 1932 until 1949 when the building was torn down to make way for the new Blessed Sacrament Church.
The fifth episcopal home was at 345 N. Belmont, a few blocks north of Blessed Sacrament, and Bishop Schwertner lived there until his death in 1939. He was succeeded by Bishop Christian Winkelmann who lived at this home until he became ill in 1945. He then took up residence at the new St. Joseph Hospital at Grand Street where he died a year later.
His successor Bishop Mark K. Carroll sold the Belmont Place home in 1947 and moved into the rectory at St. Mary’s Cathedral in downtown Wichita, which was then at 307 E. Central. Bishop Carroll lived there throughout his episcopate, even after his retirement in 1963. In 1976, he moved to the new St. Joseph Medical Center at 3600 E. Harry in southeast Wichita, where he had his own suite of rooms on the third floor, across from the hospital chapel where he celebrated daily Mass. He died there in 1985.
Bishop Leo C. Byrne was appointed coadjutor to Bishop Mark K. Carroll in 1961 and was serving as pastor of Blessed Sacrament parish in Wichita before he became apostolic administrator of the diocese after Bishop Carroll retired in 1963. Bishop Byrne left Blessed Sacrament after two years there, and secured a large home at 31 Mission Road in the Eastborough neighborhood, which became the seventh episcopal home in the diocese. This home was his residence until he left Wichita in 1967, to become coadjutor archbishop of St. Paul-Minneapolis.
Bishop David M. Maloney arrived as the seventh bishop of Wichita in 1967 and continued to live at the Mission Road home until he sold it some years later, and moved to a smaller home near St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in east Wichita after he retired in 1982. After a brief stay in Lincoln, Nebraska, he returned to Wichita and resided at St. Francis Hospital because of failing health. He died there in 1995.
Bishop Eugene J. Gerber then was called by Rome to lead his native diocese in 1983. After the warm welcome received, he made the decision to live in a renovated apartment at the Cathedral rectory, in spite of objections from some of the priests. This was the arrangement until the construction of a permanent bishops’ residence completed on the campus of the Catholic Life Center. After Bishop Gerber retired in 2001, he lived in a private farmhouse near the original Carmelite Sisters Monastery outside of Clearwater, while serving as their first chaplain. He then moved into a private home in west Wichita. When his health began to fail, he moved to the Priest Retirement Center, in the last apartment right next to the new bishop’s home until his death two months ago.
Occupying the new bishops residence since 2001 were Bishop Gerber’s successors: Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted from 2001 to 2003; Bishop Michael O. Jackels from 2005 to 2013, and now Bishop Carl A. Kemme, who arrived here in 2014 and has been with us since.
The Catholic Diocese of Wichita can be proud of this new residence, which not only provides a comfortable home for our bishop, but also a convenient place for small clergy gatherings and meetings, along with special social events and dinners with priests, seminarians, religious and laity.

A drawing of the first bishop’s residence in Wichita that was prepared for Bishop John J. Hennessy, although he never used it.

Correction to previous story
In Father Michael Peltzer’s column in the last edition of the Advance about the Wichita Hospital, a line was omitted.
Here is the entire paragraph:
“A severe storm in the summer of 1953 caused much damage to the old Martinson Block building. For reasons of safety, it was immediately razed.
The west 1916 wing was spared and continued to be used until 1959. Thirteen years after its use as a medical facility, it was demolished in 1972.”