The Lawrence Preservation Alliance used a historic downtown building as its backdrop for its annual meeting.
Pigeons, old Rock Chalk floats and squatters were just a few of the obstacles Mike Elwell had to overcome before beginning renovation on the former Consolidated Barb Wire Co. building in 1990.
The building, still under renovation just west of the Lawrence Riverfront Factory Outlets, was the site for the Lawrence Preservation Alliance's annual meeting Saturday.
"This is kind of the ultimate recycling project," Elwell said. The building, built before the turn of the century, was slated for demolition before Elwell took over. At that time an engineering study concluded that it could not be renovated.
"It's still a structurally sound building," Elwell said.
Elwell plans to make use of the building's 24,000 square feet by installing two bars, a restaurant, sculpture garden, foundry, stage and dance floor, art galleries and shops.
The project is about eight months from completion, Elwell said.
"I could see the potential of the building," he said. "It was in shambles but it had the river, windows and a history that make it a wonderful public-type building."
Surrounded by the dust of Elwell's current project, members of the LPA reviewed last year's projects and discussed plans for the coming year.
Member Jim McCrary presented a photo of the Hobbs Park Memorial Committee project. The plan calls for moving a house from 909 Pa. to the northwest quadrant of Hobbs Park, near 10th and Delaware, to serve as a monument.
The house is scheduled for demolition, but the Lawrence City Commission granted the committee a six-month grace period to salvage the building.
The group also rallied around and purchased a house at 1113 Pa. earlier this year. Renovations are under way, and should be complete sometime next spring.
"I think we ought to get this demolition thing settled," president Carol Francis said. "What's worth saving, what isn't; what are the rules of the game. We all need to be on the same page."
"We want to recognize that we can do a lot with structural repair," chair Marci Francisco said. "Keeping part of our historic fabric makes the whole town more interesting."
The LPA is also working to develop a program to rehabilitate abandoned houses and to strengthen its relationship with the Kansas Preservation Alliance.
"I think a lot of us just want to discover and celebrate those historic resources that we still have," Francisco said.