Two historic buildings at the eastern edge of Kansas University's campus will be restored, thanks to $500,000 in gifts from a KU alumni couple from Sunnyvale, Calif., KU officials announced today.
Tom and Jann Rudkin's pledge to the Kansas University Alumni Association will help turn the 112-year-old home of the late Juanita Strait, 1346 La. St. , into a community center for KU's scholarship hall residents and turn the first floor of Spooner Hall into an open, flexible space for academic workshops.
The Rudkins gift for the Strait home will provide for foundation repairs, replacement of plumbing and wiring and provide for a new roof, a patio area, siding, windows and porches. Strait died in 2002 and left her home and part of her estate to KU Endowment.
Her home will provide a communal gathering place for KU's 10 scholarship halls, said KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway.
"The rehabilitation of this property is a highly visible demonstration of a good-faith initiative toward preservation of this historic neighborhood," Hemenway said. "We are delighted that Tom and Jann have come forward to help continue the spirit of Juanita's home, which welcomed hundreds of students during the years she lived there."
The Spooner Hall project will create the Commons, which will foster research and education on the relationships between nature and culture, according to KU. The Commons will be a collaboration between the Hall Center for the Humanities and the KU Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center.
The work funded by the Rudkins' gift will open the hall and install modern acoustics, lighting and furniture for the Commons' symposia, public lectures and programs, and gatherings for KU faculty, staff and students.