Home as a Birthplace

Construction of Amelia Earhart's birthplace and childhood home, located at 223 N. Terrace, initially began in 1861. The wood-frame, Gothic Revival cottage is perched high on the west bank of the Missouri River. In 1873, Amelia's grandfather Judge Alfred Otis and grandmother Amelia Harres Otis added a brick Italianate addition to the rear of the home.

Amelia was born in the home on July 24, 1897 to Edwin Stanton Earhart and Amy Otis Earhart. Amelia's father was a lawyer whose position as a railroad claims agent required him to travel a great deal. Consequently both Amelia and her sister Muriel spent an abundance of their childhood with their grandparents in Atchison.


Click on image to enlarge
Front row: Muriel and Amelia
Back row: Uncle Carl Otis; Amelia Harres Otis, grandmother; Carl's wife, Anna; Amelia's parents, Amy Otis Earhart and Edwin Earhart.

Despite living in many different cities, Amelia considered Atchison her hometown, having spent more of her life in the Otis home than anywhere else. The Amelia Earhart Birthplace represents the most tangible remaining link with the famous female aviator.

Judge Alfred Otis and Amelia Harres Otis lived in the home until 1912, when they both passed away. Two families occupied the home prior to 1956 when it was purchased by Paul and Winney Allingham. The Allinghams lived in the home until 1984 when they both died without children or plans for the home's disposition.

Shortly thereafter, Dr. Eugene J. Bribach of Atchison, contributed $100,000 to The Ninety-Nines, an International Organization of Women Pilots (to which Amelia not only belonged, but also served as their inaugural president) to assist with the purchase and maintenance of the home.

 
Home as a Museum
Annually, thousands of visitors tour the National Historic Site to learn about the life of one of the world's most influential female aviators. Since the Museum opened to the public, it has consistently proven to be a leading public attraction in the Atchison area.

Museum Owners
After concluding ownership of Amelia's home met their educational criteria for their organization's non-profit tax status, the Ninety-Nines took possession in 1984. The Ninety-Nines established a Board of Trustees consisting of five elected members of the Ninety-Nines and four Atchison and Greater Kansas City members. The Board of Trustees has conducted extensive fund-raising, restoration and preservation efforts.

The Ninety-Nines held their first fund-raiser in 1989, with a sweepstakes for an Avid Flyer kit plane. Other fundraisers have included authentic period fashion shows, auctions, and yard sales. Since 1994, the Ninety-Nines have received numerous grants and contributions from state government and private organizations, private financial institutions, foundations and the Atchison community.

Museum Improvements
Museum improvements made possible through these generous contributions include:

  • Exterior restoration of new wood and copper roofs, guttering, chimneys, siding, porches, sidewalks, and UV-treated windows
  • Interior restoration of ceilings, walls, electrical wiring
  • Interior decoration including hardwood floors restored to their original condition, and faux-grained woodwork to mirror the home's original woodwork
  • Documented wall and ceiling papers (turn-of-the-century period)
  • New public restrooms (handicap accessible)
  • New caretaker's suite on the second floor
  • The addition of a new security system
  • The addition of period furniture
  • The addition of various art pieces
  • The establishment of an official museum archives
  • The development of educational outreach programs
  • New displays featuring Amelia Earhart and other female aviators

Museum Awards
In 1997, the 100th anniversary of Amelia's birth, the Kansas Historical Society awarded first place to the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum, presenting the Museum the Nyle J. Miller Award for their extensive restoration efforts. The Museum was designated a National Historic Site in 1971. Today, the Ninety-Nines continue their fund-raising efforts to maintain and improve this treasured landmark and its contents.

Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum Dedication Statement,
July 26, 1997
We, the Ninety-Nines, Inc. and the citizens of Atchison, Kansas dedicate the Amelia Earhart Birthplace to this generation and future generations as a museum. We will continue to restore and preserve the home to the period when Amelia lived here, and to portray her life and those of other women aviators through educational and interpretive exhibits, activities, and events.

   

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