Stop #14: 611 Highland Avenue & 615 Highland Avenue

611 Highland Avenue & 615 Highland Avenue (razed)

This is the first of the four houses built by H.D. Lee for his employees. Lloyd and Ada Potter moved into 611 Highland about 1902. Lloyd began employment with H.D. Lee in the 1890s as manager of the tea and coffee department for the Mercantile Company and worked into the position of secretary. Son Ralph Potter also worked for Lee joining in the late 1890s and continuing on its sales force until his retirement. When the new Lee Wholesale house was built in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1916, Mr. Potter moved his family there to superintend development of the large plant. His time with Lee Enterprises ended the following year, however. While on a visit to the Salina offices, he suffered a major stroke that paralyzed him and made him an invalid for the next twenty years.

Fred and Mae Abel lived next door (south) to the Potter family at 615 Highland. The home was also one of the four houses owned by H.D. Lee. It was razed about 1980. Fred was hired in 1897 as a salesman for the mercantile company. Later, he transferred to the Lee Hardware Company when it formed in 1902 and became a stockholder. He rose to be treasurer and later vice-president and director of that company. He also was the secretary of the Kansas Ice and Storage Company.

The Abels had one son, Curtis, who was memorialized by Dr. Seuss on the last page of his children’s book, I Can Read with my Eyes Shut. Together Ted Geisel and Curtis Abel attended Ivy League Dartmouth College where they were almost expelled for involvement in an “Easter-gin-party purge.” For his life-long friend, Dr. Seuss included in the book a picture of a road sign that reads, “Salina, Kansas Birthplace of Curtis A. Abel 2376 miles.”

Next Stop: Proceed north to the corner of Highland and West Prescott to 129 W. Prescott.