A project involving renovation of a 120-year-old house and the construction of three residential cottages in the Oread neighborhood is coming along smoothly, and organizers hope to begin renting them out after June 15, when the work is scheduled for completion.
Nancy Shontz, a member of the Lawrence Preservation Alliance board, said the project will mark the LPA's first completed restoration.
"This is our fourth project, but for the first three projects we were able to find a third party to do the restoration," she said. "This is the first one that we've restored."
The centerpiece of the project is the Frank and Nelle Benedict House, known as the "Enchanted Cottage," at 923 Tenn. The LPA bought the house, which was built in 1869 or 1870, in an effort to prevent its demolition.
The $273,000 project involves restoring the home and transforming it into a duplex, and building three cottages on the adjacent property.
THE LPA received a $70,000 loan in 1989 from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to restore the home the first such loan in Kansas.
The loan supplemented a $133,000 first-mortage loan from the First National Bank of Lawrence. Unnamed investors put up another $70,000 in cash equity for the project.
Oliver Finney, another LPA board member, said rent for half of the 2,150-square-foot restored house would be about $600 per month.
Rent for each of the three 900-square-foot cottages would be slightly less, he said.
The LPA hopes to attract upscale professional tenants for the house and cottages.
Finney said rent for the cottages and house would go toward repayment of the LPA's bank loan.
EACH OF THE cottages is being built with sheet metal shingles and galvanized sheet metal strips on the exterior walls. Slabs of Greenrock make up the lower portions of the exterior wall surfaces.
"We think the architecture really adds to the diversity of the neighborhood," Finney said.
Dan Rockhill, the project's architect, said the cottages' Victorian architecture reflects a style that was used about 100 years ago.
"We're using a style that is kind of a reality in architectual expression," Rockhill said, pointing to heads of metal bolts, which have been inserted into the sheet metal and rock exterior.
"This kind of style is used to illustrate where the beams are in the house and to show the connecting support," he said.
ROCKHILL said some materials used in construction of the cottages were purchased from Kansas University, which has undertaken several renovation projects on campus.
"The doors we were able to get from Snow Hall, which is being renovated," Rockhill said.
"We were able to buy the Greenrock from Summerfield Hall when part of that was redone," he said.
Most of the exterior work on the house and cottages is completed. Skeletons consisting of two-by-fours and electrical wiring are still visible on the insides of the house and cottages, In addition to the finish work on interior walls, some cabinet work is yet to be completed.
FINNEY SAID that since the renovation of the Benedict house began in August, former owners and renters have brought back original pieces of the house.
"We had one guy bring back part of the original stairwell. Another person brought us the original front doors, which he had in his basement," Finney said.
Finney said the house, which already is listed on the state Register of Historic Places, would be up for nomination for the national register when the project is completed.