Owners of nine homes in the 2300 block on the west side of Massachusetts Street in the Breezedale Neighborhood are pursuing places on the Kansas and National historic registers.
A consultant declared the homes eligible because architect Charles E. Sutton developed five of the homes on a plat recorded May 12, 1909, and the area became known as Lawrence's first suburban neighborhood to the south of the rest of the city.
The owners have pursued the distinction for about four years. The area includes the homes and the stone monuments near 23rd and Massachusetts streets.
"I think it's just a recognition of this small pocket of houses and what impact that it's had on the city, as far as the city's growth," said Mike Sizemore, who lives at 2301 Mass.
Sizemore is also the president of the Breezedale Neighborhood Assn. But this effort does not include the entire neighborhood, which stretches from Massachusetts Street to the east to Barker Avenue and borders Haskell Indian Nations University in southeast Lawrence.
Owners of property on the historic lists can earn tax credits for work they do to help preserve their homes, said Lynne Braddock-Zollner, historic resources director for Lawrence-Douglas County Metropolitan Planning Office.
For homes in historic districts, the Lawrence Historic Resources Commission must approve all major exterior construction or improvements that would require a building permit, and Zollner must approve any minor projects.
But in Kansas, property within 500 feet of a historic district is known as the environs. Those properties are also subject to the same design review procedures without being eligible for the tax credits.
This frustrated some Breezedale neighbors, who would live in environs if the historic designation is granted. They dissented during Thursday evening's informational meeting that Zollner put on at City Hall.
Preston Ransone said he questioned whether the neighborhood homes themselves had any historic significance, and he said that he considered environs to be an infringement on the rights of others in the neighborhood and the area. Ransone and his wife, Pat, have lived at 13 Winona Ave. in the Breezedale Neighborhood for 11 years, he said.
"My objection is the way it's been handled. We never had a chance to say that we would like this to happen. They meet next Saturday, and I'll bet you that they pass it," he said.
Rob Matthews lives at 1401 Mass. and within the proposed historic district. Matthews said they decided not to include the entire neighborhood association because support for it dwindled. In his review of the neighborhood, the consultant also declared that the stretch of nine homes would be the only ones eligible, Zollner said.
Matthews said he didn't believe the controls for those in the environs were extreme, and he said that it would end up helping his neighbors.
"It's good for their property values. It's good for how the neighborhood looks," he said.
During the meeting Zollner tried to ease concerns of the Ransones and of Malcolm Smith, who lives at 21 Winona Ave.
"When you have people living in historic areas, you tend to see those property values stable out. You tend to see the surrounding areas stabilize," Zollner said. "A lot of times, it will create a new identity for the neighborhood or maybe enhance the historic identity the neighborhood might have."
The Kansas Historic Sites Board of Review in Topeka will hear public comment and vote Saturday on whether to add the homes to the Register of Kansas Historic Places.
A board with the Department of Interior will decide later whether to add it to the National Register of Historic Places.