Archive for Friday, March 13, 1998

GRANT HELPING RESTORE LAWRENCE HOME

March 13, 1998

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The state's Heritage Trust Fund is pouring $60,000 into brick repairs at the Ludington-Thacher House, 1613 Tenn.

Home buyers across the state are helping a Lawrence family renovate their 138-year-old mansion on Tennessee Street.

The state's Heritage Trust Fund has provided a $60,000 grant to help Terry and Elaine Riordan renovate their home at 1613 Tenn., which is listed as a landmark on the local and National Register of Historic Places.

The trust fund, formed in 1990, gets its money from a mandatory 1-cent fee on every $100 worth of mortgages registered in the state, which is equal to $10 for every $100,000 mortgage. The fund then provides grants for making repairs to historic properties.

More than $2 million in grants have been awarded for 75 projects since 1991, said Carl Magnuson, grants manager for the Kansas State Historical Society, which administers the fund. The majority of grants help renovate government buildings, such as county courthouses and Carnegie libraries.

The Riordans' grant is only the fourth given to assist a private residence, lending evidence that the mansion -- known in historic circles as the Ludington-Thacher House -- is a valuable community asset, said Jessie Branson, a former state legislator who helped establish the trust fund.

``It is a residence that deserves community pride,'' Branson told members of the city's Historic Resources Commission (HRC) last month. ``It deserves protection.''

Dennis Enslinger, the city's historic resources administrator, said the grant was key in making repairs to the Ludington-Thacher House a reality. When the HRC approved a renovation plan for the house in 1995, repairs were expected to cost $214,000.

Today, Enslinger said, the bill is higher. The foundation already has been stabilized, and now work is concentrating on removing, repairing and reinstalling portions of the home's outer walls.

Enslinger said the work was essential for preserving a ``community icon'' that was built in stages between 1860 and 1880. Aside from its distinctive architecture, the home also is considered historic for its ties to previous residents.

The house is named after R.W. Ludington, who once owned the Eldridge Hotel and was an original settler of Lawrence; and Judge Solon O. Thacher, who chaired the 1858 Wyandotte Convention, which compiled the Kansas Constitution. Thacher also served as a U.S. ambassador to Central and South America and Mexico.

Economics play a role in preservation, said Enslinger, who noted that the house was on the market for three years before the Riordans bought it. Only then did plans for extensive repairs pick up speed.

The state grant came through last year and is picking up $60,000 of the $75,000 needed to handle brick work on outer walls.

``It closes the gap between what might be economically feasible for single-family residential. It is a significant amount of renovation,'' Enslinger said. ``It is a major expense, and the grant helps it to occur ... before it's beyond repair.''

-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is fagan@ljworld.com.

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