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Archive for Monday, April 23, 2007

This old house: Historic home being restored inside and out

150-year-old structure has seen share of history

April 23, 2007

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Dennis Dailey and his wife, Judy, who own the historic brick structure known as the Robert Miller House, 1111 E. 19th St., are restoring the house built in 1858. The house is on the National Register of Historic Places, which allowed the Daileys to apply for grants to help pay for the restoration work. The project's cost is $160,000, and $90,000 of it is being paid with a grant from the Kansas Heritage Trust Fund.

Dennis Dailey and his wife, Judy, who own the historic brick structure known as the Robert Miller House, 1111 E. 19th St., are restoring the house built in 1858. The house is on the National Register of Historic Places, which allowed the Daileys to apply for grants to help pay for the restoration work. The project's cost is $160,000, and $90,000 of it is being paid with a grant from the Kansas Heritage Trust Fund.

It survived Quantrill's raiders and it marks the property where 150 years ago slaves took refuge on their way to freedom in the North.

Now, the historic red brick structure known as the Robert Miller House is being restored so that it will last several more decades.

"It's the only house in town associated with Quantrill's raiders and the Underground Railroad," said Dennis Dailey, who along with his wife, Judy, owns the house at 1111 E. 19th St.

In March, a contractor began repairing the western wall of the two-story house built in 1858. The wall had developed a bulge, thanks to the settling of the foundation. Cracks also appeared. Dozens of original bricks had to be removed.

New bricks, which match the originals as much as possible, are being installed. The bricks that were saved will be used to replace bad spots on other wall surfaces, including the eastern wall, Dailey said.

"This is a restoration, not a renovation," he said.

The old bricks are much softer than bricks made today, said Don McMican, project engineer of DMG Consultants in Overland Park. But the bricks weren't really the problem, he said.

"The movement of the soil didn't support the house uniformly," McMican said. "It caused the house to move and shift and that cracked the masonry so that it wasn't as strong as it had been."

Tuck-pointing and bracing also were applied to the house.

Obtaining grants

The house is on the National Register of Historic Places, which specifies how historic structures can be repaired and what materials should be used. But the designation also allowed the Daileys to apply for grants to help pay for the restoration work. The project's cost is $160,000, and $90,000 of it is being paid with a grant from the Kansas Heritage Trust Fund.

Dailey handled the grant application and contractor bidding process. He hired Restoration & Waterproofing Contractors Inc., of Kansas City, Kan., Topeka and Wichita.

Dailey called on McMican because of his experience in restoration projects such as the Ludington-Thatcher House at 1613 Tenn., and the Clarice L. Osborne Memorial Chapel at Baker University in Baldwin City, which was moved from England.

"You have to care about history and care about restoration or you would be insane to do what we are doing," said Dailey, a retired Kansas University professor. "It's a funny feeling, sometimes, to stand out here of an evening and recognize the history that's here."

On Aug. 21, 1863, William Quantrill and his raiders stopped at the Miller property to water and feed their horses on their way in to attack Lawrence. They did not harm the Millers and they obviously didn't know that a building not far from the house that served as a smokehouse and granary was used to hide freed slaves. All that remains of the smokehouse is the foundation, which can still be seen.

But the old house lives on. The restoration work is expected to be done in May, Dailey said. He is seeking another grant that would help pay for a second restoration effort for the home's northern and southern walls.

House held surprises

The restoration work led to the uncovering of the original plaster masonry that surrounds the fireplace on the western wall. The fireplace for decades was surrounded by what Dailey described as "1950s knotty pine." That wood was removed.

"It is just beautiful," Dailey said. "It's amazing."

In the barn, the Daileys also found the original wood frame that fits onto the front of the fireplace and it will be repaired and put back in place.

The Daileys purchased the house from the Leo Eller family in 1983. The Daileys will continue living in their house during the restoration.

"We're living right in the middle of a construction zone and on occasion the noise gets a little oppressive, but this was too much of an adventure to pass up," Dennis Dailey said.

Comments

leadrain 7 years, 8 months ago

Lawrence is almost " oozing " with history. I'm all for the upkeep of historic homes, churches etc.. but something has been chewing on me for a while now. Maybe, someone could explain. I'm not sure who knows this but there used to be a bronze plaque located where the Downtown Parking Structure is today. I can't remember the inscription verbatum, but it read as such " On ( such & such date ) 18 men, women, and children were gunned down by Raiders at this spot " I regret to report that someone allowed workers to remove the plaque to make the new sidewalk. It was already embedded in the previous sidewalk, but when the new one went in they left the plaque out. WHY? Maybe, Pepperjax didn't want their customers appetite's to waver. Could be an oversight, but bit by bit we're losing OUR Lawrence and replacing it with components designed to strip away our individuality and to more resemble surrounding towns. If you're gonna build, go for it, but leave us some semblence of " Hometown "

ASBESTOS 7 years, 8 months ago

Did the contractors give the owners the "blue booklet" informing the owners about possible lead hazards, and were the contractor and workers trained in lead safe work practices by law?

Additionally, if more than $5000 was used the lead issue had to be delt with in a "Risk Assessment" which requires a Lead Risk Asserros, AND a clearance. If more than $25,000 in federal funds were used, there had to be full lead abatement on surfaces being disturbed using CERTIFIED contractors, Firm, and workers.

How much ya wanna bet it wasn't done?

That is State and federal Law boys and girls.

One reason the Environmental Business sector in Kansas is weak, because KDHE and EPA Region 7 are weak and clueless.

prioress 7 years, 8 months ago

Cool; it's good to see history preserved instead of being bulldozed for more places to apply beige paint.

cowboy 7 years, 8 months ago

prioress , you are incorrect , I was properly informed this past week it is not beige , it's taupe ! taupe is way more cooler than beige.

GSWtotheheart 7 years, 8 months ago

or "earth tones" as is my east lawrence neighborhood

justtired 7 years, 8 months ago

since it is not apartments or townhouses I am all for it

Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho 7 years, 8 months ago

How much ya wanna bet it wasn't done?

That is State and federal Law boys and girls.

Considering the historic nature of the home, I'm confident that all necessary precautions were taken and rules followed. It's a fairly high-profile local project; they'd have no reason to cut corners.

Jillster 7 years, 8 months ago

What an interesting article! I was wondering what was going on at the house...I drive by it several time each week, and had actually noticed the bulge in the wall before the work on the home started up.

guppypunkhead 7 years, 8 months ago

a picture of the house sure would have been nice.

Sigmund 7 years, 8 months ago

"Daileys to apply for grants to help pay for the restoration work. The project's cost is $160,000, and $90,000 of it is being paid with a grant from the Kansas Heritage Trust Fund."

Here is a big THANK YOU to all Kansas Taxpayers for paying half of the cost for fixing up Dennis's home!

Sigmund 7 years, 8 months ago

Oh BTW, if this house is such a treasure and the Taxpayers are paying to fix it up, should it be owned by a private individual? Shouldn't it be owned by the State of Kansas?

yes 7 years, 8 months ago

Are you always such a spoil sport, Sigmund?

ASBESTOS 7 years, 8 months ago

Sorry ther Kim FOng,

"Considering the historic nature of the home, I'm confident that all necessary precautions were taken and rules followed. It's a fairly high-profile local project; they'd have no reason to cut corners."

When the Hysterical Preservation" takes precedence I bet NONE of the money was spent on lead abatement or control. You would think because it is a requirement of the federal funding, but is usually passed by by the owner and building contractor. Hell, we cannot even get KDHE to regulate asbestos properly.

Sigmund 7 years, 8 months ago

Huh? A single question about the propriety of a widely regarded historic site of such significance to Lawrence and the State of Kansas being owned by a private individual hardly qualifies for being a "spoil sport." Instead of attacking me perhaps you have an answer for my query? If not, just plainly say so.

Joel 7 years, 8 months ago

From 2001:

A little-noticed Lawrence monument that helped inspire a movie about the city's Civil War days hasn't gone missing. It's sitting safely in a corner of the city manager's office.

The small granite monument marking the site where a group of Union Army recruits was massacred in 1863 has been removed from the 900 block of New Hampshire while a new city parking garage is built there.

While construction of a parking garage is under way in the 900 block of New Hampshire, a monument marking a site in Lawrence's Quantrill's raid massacre has been safely relocated to City Manager Mike Wildgen's office.

"I made it very clear we were not going to lose this," City Manager Mike Wildgen said Monday. "The last thing we want is for it to get lost in a pile of contractor's debris."

Sigmund 7 years, 8 months ago

So Joel, what is the rest of the story? Did the marker ever get returned, or is it in the custody of the new City Manager? How is a marker for a historic battle in City hands, the same as a house that was used in the Underground Railroad in private hands? Or did I miss your point?

At the risk of being called a spoil sport again (I think I shall recover) I would really prefer this house being restored by the State of Kansas and turned into a museum for the benefit of the citizens of the State of Kansas.

Kookamooka 7 years, 8 months ago

I imagine that the plaque will become part of the HUGE regional Civil War Heritage project that's waiting for money in congress. If our region is designated, we are going to see all sorts of new Civil War historical sites in Lawrence and the surrounding area.

Isn't it about time for an update article on the status of that project? I'm curious about where it is in the pipeline.

Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho 7 years, 8 months ago

Sorry ther Kim FOng...I bet NONE of the money was spent on lead abatement or control.

Apology accepted. Also, what makes you so sure that the owner isn't following building guidelines? Have you been on this particular job site? It appears that you are hurling accusations with no evidence to back it up. Do you have evidence to support your claim or are you merely speculating?

Sigmund 7 years, 8 months ago

Nicely done. You sound like a college Professor :)

miasac 7 years, 8 months ago

What would you suggest Sigmund? That the government take away people's homes whenever they become old enough to possibly be of some interest to the public? I would argue that this is an example of the government actually doing something right with our tax dollars. On the one hand, they are protecting the property rights of an individual, and on the other they are protecting the interests of the public by subsidizing the costs of preserving a home that is valuable to the community as a whole.

Sigmund 7 years, 8 months ago

Like most Americans I am not for the government taking away private property except for a "public" purpose and only then with fair compensation. This property seems to be of great local, State, and even National historical significance and I am uncomfortable with such a treasure being in private hands.

I am also uncomfortable with public money being spent for, esentially, a private benefit. Its the mixing of the two, public money for the benefit of a single private citizen that causes my heartburn.

George_Braziller 7 years, 8 months ago

Owning a house that was built in 1858 is not for the faint of heart and a huge responsibility. Mine was built the same year so I know first hand. You're only the temporary caretaker of something that existed long before you and will be standing long after you are gone. Nothing is a standard size. Nothing is level, flat, square, or plumb. Just about every repair requires a creative approach and it never goes quite the way you plan. It takes money.

They are like your grandmother. You love them not in spite of, but because of their life, their wrinkes, their quirks, and their honesty. They also tell stories if you're willing to listen to them. They aren't trying to be something they that they aren't. You don't pull the plug on grandma just because her hospital stay is getting expensive or inconvenient. I've jokingly named mine "Halfdon" because it will always be "half done" and I'd never have it any other way.

George_Braziller 7 years, 8 months ago

Sigmund -

" . . . This property seems to be of great local, State, and even National historical significance and I am uncomfortable with such a treasure being in private hands."

Do you propose that every single propterty with historic significance be the sole responsibility of the local, state, or federal goverment? Maintenance and all?

"I am also uncomfortable with public money being spent for, esentially, a private benefit. Its the mixing of the two, public money for the benefit of a single private citizen that causes my heartburn."

Public money is used for weatherization programs that benefit a private property owner. Do you suggest doing away with those as well? This is a one-time infusion of money which will allow the property to exist for future generations to enjoy. Without it it could possibly, in the future, be enjoyed through nothing other than a faded photograph. Then people would say, "Why did we let this disappear?"

Sigmund 7 years, 8 months ago

Fair points George. If the money being spent is solely for weatherization and is being offered at the same terms that are available to all citizens, of course I wouldn't have a problem with that. However, I got the impression that Prof Dailey was getting the money only because of the significant historical importance of his particular property.

Not every home that is of some historical curiosity (George Washington slept here, etc.) needs to be owned by the public, that would be absurd. But a home that survived Quantrill's raid and was a part of the Underground Railway seems more than mere curiosity and honestly I would be more comfortable with it in public hands, especially if we are going to be asked to continually paying a significant part of its restoration.

George_Braziller 7 years, 8 months ago

My house was burned in Quantrill's raid and was built by and lived in a family that was instrumental in establishing the underground railroad in eastern Kansas. It's also also eligible for Kansas and National historic registries yet I haven't taken the time to submit the nominations. Should I turn it over to public hands? Should I not be able to apply for a few thousand dollars to ensure that it exists for future generations?

George_Braziller 7 years, 8 months ago

I forgot to mention that weatherization programs aren't offered at the same terms that are available to all citizens. You have to meet financial eligibility guidelines. Make to much money and you don't qualify.

Preservation grants also aren't carte blanche. There has to be a significant out-of-pocket financial commitment from the property owner. You have to submit detailed architectural plans for the work and there are many costs that aren't covered by preservation funds.

" If the money being spent is solely for weatherization and is being offered at the same terms that are available to all citizens, of course I wouldn't have a problem with that. "

denak 7 years, 8 months ago

I don't live far from this house. I can in fact walk to it within 10 minutes. However, I just can't help thinking it is all a waste when they are doing all this rebuilding and yet right around it is a parole office, a laundrymat, a gas station and a movie store where you can rent pornos.

Just doesn't seem right.

Dena

Sigmund 7 years, 8 months ago

I would never tell you what to do with your own property nor presume to tell you what is the moral or "right" thing to do, especially since the action you propose is perfectly legal. My problem isn't with the good Prof taking advantage of taxpayer's by availing himself of perfectly legal grants, it is with the propriety of the particular program itself. Is the "public" good really well served by programs which benefit so few "private" parties?

If the public need to preserve this, or any historic site, is so great that public money needs to be spent, then this should be public property. If not, then it needs to be treated equally with all private property. Deciding in any particular case which properties fit and which don't is well beyond this discussion.

I doubt this will satisfy you and neither will restating it yet again, but that is my position.

blindrabbit 7 years, 8 months ago

Regarding the recruit plaque: Unless it has been removed in the last week or so, there is a very small plaque regarding the recruit massacre hidden (actually buried) in the grass on the West side of New Hampshire Street near the mid-block crosswalk in from of the Parking Garage, or just across the street from the Art Center. I don't know if this the original one nor do I know if this has been somewhat relocated to avoid offending PepperJack. Regardless, it seems a rather poor tribute to Lawrence's history and the sacrifice of these individuals.

While there is no denying Lawrence has a considerable amount of history especially during the Civil War period there is little evidence available to the visitor. Maybe we need to expound on this more; ie Savannah, Ga., Charleston, S.C. etc, etc. Of course we have the "great" (ha!, ha!) Watkins Museum to give evidence.

sun45kiss 7 years, 8 months ago

A wonderful addition to American History...White people and Black people both share this history together...we should embrace it; and spread the word.

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