East Lawrence residents, local preservationists and a Kansas University architecture class are working together to try to place as many as 25 homes on the Lawrence Register of Historic Places.
Members of each group met Wednesday to iron out details of the project, which would pay 10 KU summer school students to help research the history of the homes for register applications.
"We feel there needs to be a lot more recognition of the historic properties we have in East Lawrence," said Richard Kershenbaum, an East Lawrence resident and a Lawrence Preservation Alliance board member.
The LPA and two Lawrence residents have donated $1,700 to help pay student salaries and research costs, Kershenbaum said.
"There is a lot of good architecture there, and at least six homes predate Quantrill's raid (in 1863)," said Barry Newton, the professor of the KU class, named "Recording Historic Structures."
ABOUT 17 East Lawrence residents at the Wednesday meeting said they wanted to participate, said Newton, who also chairs the Historic Resources Commission. He expects to hear from six or seven more residents within a week.
While the historic significance of one of Lawrence's oldest neighborhoods needs recognition, said Dennis Domer, LPA president, the LPA's support also stems from concern over encroaching development.
Building projects or demolitions taking place within 250 feet of a property listed on the local historical register trigger a review by the city's Historic Resources Commission, said Linda Finger, city planner and historic resources administrator.
If the HRC determines the project is detrimental to the historical 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.
"We believe that, as in any part of the city, there is going to be development, so we're concerned that development be reviewed to preserve the historic character of the neighborhood," Domer said.
Others involved in the project say the protection is a plus, but they stress that interest in registering the homes predates any recent concerns over unfriendly development.
"For many years, a lot of people in my neighborhood have been interested in historic preservation," said Mary Lisa Pike, 945 R.I. "It isn't just a politically defensive measure."
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.
TO PLACE A property on the register, an applicant must prove a property is significant for its architecture, or a person or event associated with the property, said Finger.
Newton's class began meeting this week and soon will begin photographing the properties and poring over tax records to identify previous owners, Newton said.
The students will do most of the research necessary for the applications, but applying for the register is up to residents. The fee for applying is $10.
Newton said he expected students to complete research on the homes by the end of July. The register project is one of four projects the students will tackle during the 10-week class, he said.
The project benefits everyone, Newton said.
"The students get experience in the field, and the residents in East Lawrence get their homes protected," he said.