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Archive for Thursday, August 20, 1992

EAST LAWRENCE HOMES NOMINATED FOR HISTORIC REGISTER

August 20, 1992

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K.T. Walsh knew she lived on one of the oldest streets in Lawrence. But now when she looks up the 700 block of Rhode Island, she sees drunken raiders on horses storming in with torches. It gives her chills.

"It deepens the way I feel about my neighborhood," she said. "It's our story. It's our past."

A first-person account of Quantrill's 1863 raid from a past resident of the block was one of the historical finds of a special project researching homes in East Lawrence. Friday is the 129th anniversary of the raid, which occurred on a Friday.

Researchers dug into tax records, library files and newspaper obituaries to ferret out information needed to put 30 East Lawrence homes on the Lawrence Register of Historic Places.

The project harnessed the resources of local preservationists, the home owners, and a Kansas University architecture class.

The result is 30 completed applications for the register. Now, it's up to the property owners to submit the applications to the city's Historic Resources Commission for consideration.

THE RESEARCH filled out a picture of East Lawrence as an economically and ethnically mixed area before and after the turn of the century, said Barry Newton, the professor of the KU summer school class, named "Recording Historic Structures."

"There were a lot of diverse people living in a very eclectic group of houses," Newton said. "We felt as though we were looking into the core of the town."

More than 30 East Lawrence residents volunteered their homes for the project. Newton and his class picked the 30 homes with the best shot at the register.

During the summer, 10 students in the class pored through research materials and photographed the homes. They studied tax rolls, city directories and even social columns in local newspapers.

Obituaries were especially helpful, said Ted Schmitz, a student in the class.

"A LOT OF times, the obituary did more to explain what they died from," he said. "Somebody actually died from a boil. He lived in his house for 40 years. Every one was different."

To place a property on the register, an applicant must prove a property represents a particular architectural style, or is associated with a well-known person or important historical event.

The Lawrence register currently lists nine properties and a historic district comprising the east side of the 1000 block of Ohio and the west side of the 1000 block of Tennessee.

Walsh said she and other neighborhood residents were interested in East Lawrence's history for many years, but never mounted such an organized project.

"With Barry Newton's students doing the work . . . that was a great shot in the arm for the project," said Walsh, whose home at 732 R.I. was part of the project.

THE LAWRENCE Preservation Alliance and some Lawrence residents donated $2,200 to help pay student salaries and research costs.

Local attorney Arthur Anderson, who chairs the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods and is restoring the Old English Lutheran Church at 1040 N.H., was among those donating to the project.

"When we became part of the neighborhood, we thought of raising funds for the project to help the neighborhood get a sense of identity," Anderson said.

The LPA's support also stemmed from a fear of encroaching development that could bulldoze portions of the historic neighborhood, LPA President Dennis Domer has said.

Building projects or demolitions taking place within 250 feet of a property listed on the local register trigger a review by the city's Historic Resources Commission, said Linda Finger, the city's historic resources administrator.

IF THE HRC determines the project is detrimental to the historic property, the group is empowered to deny the applicable city permits. The HRC's decision can be appealed to the Lawrence City Commission.

Changes to the structure itself also must be reviewed, Finger said.

The homeowners themselves must apply for the register.

"We're not interested in acting like some kind of broker," said Newton, who also chairs the HRC.

Newton said there was a possibility that his class would repeat the project next summer. LPA member Richard Kershenbaum said that as many as 250 homes in the neighborhood would be eligible for the register.

"We've really just scratched the surface," Kershenbaum said.

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