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Archive for Thursday, June 12, 1997

SNOW HOUSE PLACED ON NATIONAL HISTORIC REGISTER

June 12, 1997

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The Snow House near Kansas University's campus is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Like a lot of homeowners around town, Carol von Tersch and her husband, Bob Findlay, are talking about home improvement.

This summer they plan some work on their limestone foundation. They want to reopen a window that was covered over by a shower.

And they're making plans to hang a bronze plaque on the exterior of their six-bedroom house at 706 W. 12th.

It's that plaque that tells the real difference between the couple's home and most others throughout the city.

The plaque will tell those who pass by that the home, known as the Snow House, was built in 1910 -- and that it's now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Being on the register will "preserve the memory of what life was like in the early part of this century," von Tersch said Wednesday.

Von Tersch, who has lived in the house since 1978, worked with Carolyn Berneking, who owned the home for 20 years, to get it placed on three historic registers as a way to protect it for future generations.

The home's historical significance: It was designed by William Alexander Griffith, an architect and landscape artist who designed 21 homes and the Masonic Temple in Lawrence. Griffith also helped to establish KU's School of Architecture.

He designed the home for Jane Snow, the widow of Francis H. Snow, KU's fifth chancellor.

It is also historically significant because it is a "shingle style" house. Encased in shingles, the style is noted for having no decorations at the windows, doors, porches, Berneking said.

Berneking, who bought the home from the Snow estate in 1958, said she likes the house because of all the built-in extras, such as window benches and shelving. It also has "airing porches" built off the bedrooms for fresh air.

The home was first added to Lawrence's Register of Historic Places in 1995, then to the state register in the spring of 1996 and finally to the national register last fall.

Since then, von Tersch has had a major change in her life -- getting married to Findlay, a KU theater and film professor.

Von Tersch said the little remodeling she and her husband have done has been cleared through the city's Historic Resources Commission. That has included putting in an office for Findlay on the third floor.

"It is one of the most magnificent views in Lawrence to look out the north window," Findlay said. "We're really right on the top of the north end of Hog Back Ridge."

Placing the home on national historic register will mean that any architectural modifications within 500 feet of the property will be up for review by the local and state historic preservation panels, Von Tersch said.

And she hopes that will help preserve what's left of the old neighborhood that was built up just northeast of campus.

"Most of the houses along Louisiana Street are all gone," she said. "They're all apartments now."

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