Archive for Sunday, June 28, 1998


June 28, 1998


Preservationists went to work with crowbars and sledgehammers Saturday.

A dozen volunteers ripped, hammered and yanked apart a wooden addition to the Murphy-Bromelsick house at 909 Pa.

The stone and brick house, more than 130 years old, is to be moved to Hobbs Park, restored and made a memorial to Lawrence's Civil War history and to abolitionist newspaper publisher John Speer. Speer, whose home was on the site of the park, published the Kansas Tribune, Lawrence's first newspaper.

``Nobody remembers this,'' said Mark Kaplan, the project organizer.

The Civil War history of Lawrence is important both to the city and to the nation, he said, but seldom recognized.

``We need a good memorial to that,'' said Carrie Lindsey, the neighborhood coordinator with the East Lawrence Improvement Assn.

The association pitched in to help on Saturday, supplying many of the volunteers.

``We just decided it's in our neighborhood, we like the house, it needs to be preserved, so why not help out,'' association president Jean Ann Pike said.

The house has only four rooms and a full cellar. The front of the house is brick, with just one story; in back is a stone section two-and-a-half stories tall.

It doesn't look like a memorial yet. A heap of lumber sat where the porch had been. A few holes in the roof let the sun shine on a weathered wood floor. The walls were peeling and in places broken. All the windows were covered in plywood.

One volunteer worked to knock out a support for the roof while others hauled rubble. The wooden addition, Kaplan said, was added in the late 1880s or even in the early 1900s.

The crew started at 8 a.m., and had almost filled a Dumpster by 10 a.m. Volunteers wandered in, picked up gloves near the first aid kit in the front yard, and started clearing away stacks of sheet rock, plywood and lumber that had made up the addition.

There is a lot of work to be done before the house is moved. The roof will be removed, the inside stripped. A site has to be prepared at the park.

``We have to build a new foundation for it, we need to landscape it,'' Kaplan said.

All the wood in the house has to be removed. After the house is prepared, it will be braced from the inside and bound with plywood on the outside. Then it will be hauled to the park.

A major sticking point is the cost of the project.

``We need to raise roughly $130,000 to $140,000,'' Kaplan said. If they can raise the money, however, they hope to move the house by autumn.

The house was condemned by the city last year, but the Hobbs Memorial Park Committee convinced the city to hold off on demolition.

-- Felicia Haynes' phone message number is 832-7173. Her e-mail address is

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