Archive for Thursday, January 4, 1996

HANDIWORK

January 4, 1996

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Jim Naismith, grandson of Dr. James Naismith, visits the house completed in 1924 by his grandfather.

Inventing the game of basketball wasn't the only handiwork of Dr. James Naismith.

That's the opinion of Jim Naismith, who is visiting in Lawrence and stopped by Wednesday to see the house at 1700 Miss. that his grandfather lived in for 10 years.

"This is the first time I've been to the house," Naismith said. "My grandfather was apparently quite able with his hands. It's extremely solid and very, very efficient."

In 1923, Dr. James Naismith and his wife, Maude, decided to build the two-story house to be closer to Kansas University. Naismith planned the house and built it with the help of his son Jack.

"I gave them (the Naismiths) a call, because I'm very family- and heritage-oriented," said Lois Llewellyn, who now lives in the house with her husband, Lew. "We remodeled the bathroom and we uncovered a shelving that was covered up by paneling, and we uncovered the hardwood floor."

The Llewellyns bought the house in 1965 from Ken Whitenight. While remodeling, they found canceled checks written by the Naismiths and some old family photographs in the attic.

The Llewellyns were even told of a more mystical remnant of Dr. Naismith.

"Ken said sometimes late at night you could hear a basketball bouncing upstairs," Lew said, laughing.

While Dr. Naismith's spiritual presence may not be in the house, his handiwork is. Aside from the basic remodeling done by the Llewellyns, the house remains in its original design and continues to draw inquiries from various visitors to Lawrence.

"People will come by and take pictures, but they won't usually come to the door," Lew said. "One time -- one time -- someone stopped and knocked on the door and asked if it was the house that Naismith built."

Jim Naismith visited the house Wednesday morning with his wife, Beverly, and their daughter and son-in-law, Margaret and Randy Jonker. The Naismiths were traveling back to their home state of Texas and stopped for a quick tour of the house.

"The years that he dropped out of high school -- before he went back-- he did lumbering in Canada, and I believe that was when he learned about woods and tools," Jim Naismith said of his grandfather.

Although the Naismiths had to make their visit brief, the Llewellyns were happy to have had the grandson of the inventor of basketball visit the house he built.

"I am so pleased that they came by," Lois said. "It's kind of fun, and it's very fun that they bothered to come by."

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