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Archive for Wednesday, February 6, 2002

Opening homes to public helps save them, historian says

February 6, 2002

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The Oread Neighborhood should capitalize on the historic stock of homes it has left in order to spread interest in preserving them.

That was the suggestion of Watkins Community Museum of History historian Steve Jansen, who spoke Tuesday night to about 30 members of the Oread Neighborhood Assn. about their neighborhood being at risk.

He said that people sometimes pull off the Kansas Turnpike to visit historic homes in Atchison, where some homeowners have agreed to open their houses to tourists during certain times of year. It's something the city's tourism developers can promote, he said.

"If you keep your light underneath the basket, no one's going to see it," he said.

Similar visitation in the Oread neighborhood might provide a broader understanding of the significance of its historic homes, many of which were built before 1900, and might make it less easy to target them for destruction, Jansen said.

Jansen's talk comes just days before Monday's public hearing on the fate of homes in the 1300 block of Ohio Street. Kansas University wants to raze the century-old houses to make way for future scholarship halls. The Oread Neighborhood and Lawrence Preservation Alliance argue the homes should be restored, and that the construction would encroach too much into the neighborhood.

Ramon Powers, the state historic preservation officer, will hear public comment on the issue at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Douglas County Courthouse. Powers' decision on the issue will break a deadlock between the Campus Historic Preservation Board, which has approved demolition, and the city's Historic Resources Commission, which has voted against it.

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