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Thomas P. Kennard

Thomas P. Kennard Thomas P. Kennard [p853, 16329]

Thomas Perkins Kennard was born near Flushing, Belmont County, Ohio, in 1828. At the age of seven his family moved to Indiana, where Kennard lived until coming to Nebraska. In his youth he worked in a woolen manufacturing plant, then joined his brother, Jenkins, in purchasing it. He also began reading law. Selling his interest in the woolen plant, he practiced law in Indiana for several years, then in 1857 moved with his oldest brother, Levi, to the former town of De Soto in Washington County, Nebraska Territory. He soon became involved in Nebraska politics and was elected secretary of state in 1867. In later years he served a short time as a state senator and held several federal appointments, while pursuing an active career as a Lincoln lawyer and businessman. In 1879 he founded the Western Paint and Glass Company, with which he was associated for the rest of his life.

While in Indiana, Kennard married Livia Emily Templeton. One son and two daughters lived to maturity. Mrs. Kennard died in January 1887, and that same year the present Kennard House was sold. The reason for this decision is unclear, although it has been speculated that it was in mourning for Mrs. Kennard. From 1887 until his death in 1920, Kennard occupied a house (razed in 1962) built for him in 1887 at the southwest corner of H and Seventeenth Streets, two houses east of the 1869 mansion. The town of Kennard in Washington County remains to perpetuate his name.

After 1887 the Kennard House was used as a boarding house, fraternity house, and a single-family dwelling at various times. In 1961 the state of Nebraska acquired the house through the purchase of all lots on the north half of the block on which the house is located. This purchase was made in conjunction with a plan to provide additional state parking and office space and to improve the aesthetic appearance of the area surrounding the present statehouse. The house was in danger of demolition, but a concentrated preservation drive resulted in the 1965 passage of Nebraska Legislative Bill 609, introduced by state senators Fern Hubbard Orme of Lincoln and Jerome Warner of Waverly. This bill designated the house as the "Nebraska Statehood Memorial" and appointed the Nebraska State Historical Society to restore and refurnish it. Renovation began in December 1966, the house was opened to the public on August 18, 1968, and it was formally dedicated on October 5, 1968.

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