National Historic Site
304 Washington Avenue
Nicodemus, Kansas 67625
open 7 days a week Memorial Day
through Labor Day Monday - Saturday during winter months
9 AM - 4:30 PM
closed on all federal holidays
but call to confirm hours
Historic Site Map
Nicodemus Township Hall was a Works Progress Administration Project
(WPA) started in 1934 and completed in 1939.
Nicodemus, Kansas was established in July, 1877
by Negro "exodusters" from Kentucky. They lacked sufficient tools, seed
or money, but managed to survive the first winter. Some survived by selling
buffalo bones, others by working for the Kansas Pacific railroad at Ellis,
30 miles away. Nicodemus was named after the first black slave to purchase
his freedom in the United States.
By 1880 the all black community reached 400, and was the
largest community established by freed slaves following the Civil War.
By 1887, Nicodemus, Kansas had churches, stores, lodges, a school and two
After reaching a peak of 600 residents, Nicodemus failed
because the railroad passed the community by, and the population slowly
dropped. There are about 40 residents today, as well as several buildings
being maintained by the National Park Service.
Five historic buildings in Nicodemus were declared a unit
of the National Park System on November 12, 1996, but development and restoration
of Nicodemus National Historic Site has been very slow. Several
of the remaining buildings are in disrepair and unsafe to enter. Others
are not open to visitors. The "Temporary Visitor's Center" we visited in
2006 is still in use and the only displays in this National Park Unit.
While the displays are interesting, they take only a few minutes to read.
There is an important and fascinating story told at the Nicodemus National
Historic Site, but after 22 plus years, it appears there are no funds for
telling this story.
A Nicodemus Homecoming event is hosted each year on the
last weekend in July.
Visitor Center located inside the Nicodemus Township Hall
St. Francis Hotel - Zach T. Fletcher's hotel was built in 1881 and
is the original two story stuccoed portion of
the building on the right. It originally featured a cut limestone appearance
with a one story stone kitchen addition
on the east. It also served as the site of the first post office in
Nicodemus - the first recorded African American
operated post office in the United States. At times a school and a
stagecoach station operated out of the hotel.
Nicodemus First Baptist Church - The present structure was completed
in 1907 and was built around an
earlier and smaller church. The stucco exterior was added in the 1940s.
After the exterior of the present
building was completed, the older structure was removed piece by piece
through the front door. The newer
extension to the north was completed in the 1970s and contains the
sanctuary used for services today.
Nicodemus African Methodist Episcopal Church - The A. M. E. Church
was built in 1885 of limestone. It
was later finished with stucco in the 1940s. It was closed for religious
services in the 1950s.
Preservation of the A. M. E. Church in 2014
Nicodemus Historical Society, 611 S. 5th Street, Nicodemus, Kansas
67625 (785) 839-4280
District Number 1 Nicodemus School, the first school established in
Graham County, is a one story wood sided
structure with a hip roof. It was built in 1918 on the same site as
the original school (built around 1887) which
burned. The school closed in the late 1950s and children now living
in Nicodemus commute to Bogue, Kansas.
If you are in Nicodemus in the Spring through Fall, check out Ernestine's
Bar-B-Q on the east side of town.
We haven't had the BBQ, but the warm sweet potato pie was fabulous!
Nicodemus National Historic Site Map
Nicodemus National Historic Site
audio segment on NPR
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