Archive for Sunday, March 28, 2010

State group places villa on list of endangered historic places

The Vermilya-Boener house, at East 1400 and North 1900 roads northwest of Lawrence, is on the Kansas Preservation Alliance Inc.’s list of endangered historic places.

The Vermilya-Boener house, at East 1400 and North 1900 roads northwest of Lawrence, is on the Kansas Preservation Alliance Inc.’s list of endangered historic places.

March 28, 2010


A 143-year-old limestone house north of Lawrence has been named as one of the most endangered historic places in the state.

The home, which sits on land once slated for a sand-dredging facility, was one of seven properties the Kansas Preservation Alliance recognized Saturday as threatened.

A two-story Italian villa once home to a prominent Lawrence businessman, the Vermilya-Boener House sits about a mile north of U.S. Highway 24 and west of U.S. Highway 59 on North 1900 Douglas County Road. In 1991, the home was named to the National Register of Historic Places.

The house is part of a 310-acre site that owners Midwest Concrete Materials had considered turning into a sand-dredging facility.

The Manhattan-based company withdrew its proposal earlier this year after the Federal Aviation Administration voiced concerns over a reclamation lake that would be built on the site. The FAA feared the lake would attract migratory birds that could disrupt aviation at the nearby Lawrence Municipal Airport.

In the proposed plan, the house would not have been destroyed. But historic preservationists worried that trucks hauling gravel out of the site every day could weaken the home’s structure.

“There could be a tendency to just level it and get it out of the way, especially if it showed any signs of damage,” Kansas Preservation Alliance executive director Dale Nimz said.

Vacant since the Vermilya-Boener family sold it in 1948, the house’s windows are covered in plywood. The home’s previous owner, Lance Burr, had plans of rehabilitating the home. He placed it on the historic registry, built a new roof and put mothballs in it.

The home was built by early Douglas County settlers Elijah and Cynthia Vermilya. Elijah’s daughter, Ella, inherited the house and lived in it with her husband William Boener, owner of Boener Brothers’ Cigar Factory. The cigar factory, in the 700 block of Massachusetts Street at the turn of the 20th century, was one of the town’s major employers at the time.


Tyson Travis 8 years ago

This is a wonderful old house, always a favorite of mine. Only one correction, the Boener Bros. Cigar factory was in the 600 block of Mass, you can see it prominently in old photos, it was about the first building you came to after you crossed the old bridge going south.

George_Braziller 8 years ago

I have loved this house since the first time I saw it nearly 30 years ago but never knew anything about it.

It always made me a bit sad to see such a grand house sitting in the middle of an empty field with boarded up windows.

Deja Coffin 8 years ago

My husband and I came across this house once and just fell in love with it. I would love to buy it and fix it up (if that's even possible) but I wouldn't know the first thing to do. I just love old limestone houses.

Brian Hall 8 years ago

I would also love to purchase and rehabilitate this house but it sounds like a lot of work needs to be done inside the house because the NRHP application for the house even mentions that it's missing the main staircase. Hope the house is able to be preserved.

ruraljayhawk 8 years ago

I hope this means the place is protected from the bulldozer

George_Braziller 8 years ago

Rebuilding the entire roof is more than just putting plywood on it. Water is the death of any building. Lance did what he could at the time but health issues changed what was possible.

Without the roof and closing up the structure the elements would have taken a toll very quickly.

Flap Doodle 8 years ago

Relax and have a popsicle, paulette. You can enjoy a cool and fruity treat while contemplating astroturf and drainage.

Mike Ford 8 years ago

keep providing the uneducated chucklehead commentary penders. I'm laughing at you not with you.

May Bedtime with Bonzo, trickle down economic destruction, and cutting taxes to the point where there's no revenue left exist in your 1950's states rights revisionist Ozzie and Harriet life.

ChristineMetz 8 years ago

Hi, This is the reporter for the story. I just wanted to respond to jazzttt comment. According to the National Register of Historic Places application, the Boener Bros Cigar Factory was first located at 700 Massachusetts St. In 1897 it expanded to 722 Massachusetts St. and then in 1902, the factory moved into a three-story brick factory at 601-607 Massachusetts St. (which is probably the one in the photo you talked about). So, it's kind of a hard location to pin point over time.

Thanks for all your comments. Christine Metz.

Deja Coffin 8 years ago

ohhh.... snaps to Christine!! You tell em!!

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