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George Grant Villa
2680 Grants Villa Rd.
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About this Exploration:
Originally a successful silk merchant, Grant came to America in 1872 in search of a place to build a country estate on which to retire. What he discovered was a new vision to turn the country into a major agricultural and livestock producing area. In the fall of 1872, Grant purchased an estimated 70,000 acres from the Kansas Pacific Railroad and then returned to England to organize a colony of British and Scotch noblemen. The group left England on April 1, 1873 with the necessary provisions, including several head of black polled Aberdeen Angus bulls, a red shorthorn bull, thirty sheep and some horses. Upon their return to the area, Grant named the new settlement after Queen Victoria, and he and his companions began construction on homes and town buildings.
Grant was the leader of the new colony and had specific stipulations as to what types of homes were to be built, livestock to invest in and the crops they should cultivate. The four black Angus bulls that were brought on the journey became the breeding stock to cross with native Texas longhorns. This produced calves that survived well on the winter range and weighed more the next spring.
Grant’s hope for his country estate wasn’t forgotten in all of this. He had an English architect design his Villa which he built five miles south and one and one-half mile east of Victoria. The two story home was constructed of native limestone that was quarried near the site and it was built atop a hill overlooking Big Creek. The home featured a large double door front entry way, open staircase, a study and wine cellar in the basement. The Villa became the center of social activities for the English colonists and was a comfortable residence for the Grant family during George’s final years.
George became ill and died at the Villa on April 28, 1878. Margaret Grant, Grant’s niece and housekeeper, inherited the house and some of the estate. In October 1878 she married John Duncan, a farm hand. They had two sons, John and George and a daughter Margaret. Early in the spring of 1897, with the land under foreclosure, Mr. and Mrs. Moritz Baier purchased it from the Duncans. They lived at the home until their retirement in 1935 and then their son, William and his family lived at the Villa until 1972. Paul Baier, the son of William, resided at the home with his family for over 35 years until they moved to Hays.
The Villa was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Although there have been some updates made in the home, the original structure made of native limestone is still intact. Black Angus cattle even still roam the pasture land around the Villa. The Baiers welcome guests to the Villa either for a simple drive through or for a pre-arranged guided tour. It is their hope to preserve the memory of George Grant and his contributions to the agricultural life of Western Kansas.
For more information on George Grant Villa, follow this link:
City Clerk - Mary Pfeifer
1005 4th St.
Victoria, KS 67671