Hoping to turn a sad situation into an opportunity for one needy family, Lawrence Habitat for Humanity is buying an Indiana Street house from the First Christian Church.
The church, 1000 Ky., had been preparing the house as a new home for its longtime custodian, Robert Lewis. But Lewis, who was 73, died several months ago.
First Christian and Habitat representatives have agreed on a contract and probably will sign it next week, said the Rev. John Gingerich, president of Lawrence Habitat. The two groups also will work to renovate the new Habitat house for its future tenants.
"The house will be like a living memorial to Bob Lewis," Gingerich said. "Hopefully, someone will be able to make use of it for a long time in the future."
DENNIS Chadwick, associate pastor of First Christian, said the church also was planning to do a separate project in Lewis' name. He said the church had not yet decided the nature of the project.
Gingerich said the house at 820 Ind. would be the sixth Habitat home in Lawrence. The group is finishing construction of its fifth house, located at 1700 Harper. Jeannine Reese, Lawrence, and her three sons are tentatively scheduled to move in Oct. 10, and there will be a dedication ceremony Oct. 13.
The church already has invested more than $20,000 in renovating the Indiana Street house, Gingerich said. Habitat will buy it for half that amount, and completing the project will require another $20,000 worth of materials. The work will include plumbing and rewiring to bring the house up to code.
A GROUP of Kansas University students will work on landscaping around the house Saturday, and Habitat and First Christian volunteers will begin working together on the house Oct. 12, he said. Habitat's family search committee soon will begin looking for candidates for the house.
The First Christian Church began its long-term project to move Lewis into a more comfortable home last year. It moved him into a church-owned house and tore down his old home at 820 Ind. Then, early Feb. 15, 1991, it moved another church-owned house from 11th and Kentucky streets to the Indiana Street site.
The church raised money for the project through donations and fund-raisers. Lewis was the church's custodian for 21 years.