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Archive for Wednesday, September 4, 2002

Graves approves demolition of Ohio Street houses

September 4, 2002

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Three houses in the 1300 Ohio block can be destroyed to make room for Kansas University scholarship halls, Gov. Bill Graves announced today.

In a Tuesday letter to the State Historic Preservation Officer, Graves said, "After considering all relevant factors, I hereby determine that there is no feasible and prudent alternative to the University of Kansas' proposal to raze the structures."

A KU official said there is no date set yet for the buildings' demolition.

Opponents of the anticipated wrecking were upset.

"I really don't think I have a comment," said Pat Kehde, president of the Lawrence Preservation Alliance. "I'm stunned, actually."

KU wants to tear down three dilapidated, century-old houses on Ohio Street to make way for scholarship halls. But the university has been prevented from doing so until now because of a state preservation officer's ruling in March that the demolition would harm the historic value of nearby Usher House, 1425 Tenn.

That house, now being used by Beta Theta Pi fraternity, is on the National Register of Historic Places. KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway in June appealed the state preservation officer's ruling to Gov. Bill Graves, who nearly made a decision without taking public input.

He reversed course July 8, deciding to accept public comment. Letters then poured in from proponents and opponents of demolition and a representative of the governor held a public comment hearing last month in Lawrence.

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