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Archive for Wednesday, June 27, 2012

25 years ago: Bank demolishes houses in Old West Lawrence

June 27, 2012

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This 19th century Italianate house was one of eight houses demolished on the morning of June 27, 1987, in the 800 block between Kentucky and Tennessee streets to make room for a planned expansion of the Douglas County Bank.  (Staff photo by Richard Gwin)

This 19th century Italianate house was one of eight houses demolished on the morning of June 27, 1987, in the 800 block between Kentucky and Tennessee streets to make room for a planned expansion of the Douglas County Bank. (Staff photo by Richard Gwin)

From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for June 27, 1987:

In spite of continued opposition from the Old West Lawrence Neighborhood Association and the Lawrence Preservation Alliance, bulldozers and backhoes showed up early this morning and began tearing down eight houses in the 800 block between Tennessee and Kentucky streets. The demolition, denounced by one neighbor as the "wholesale murder" of a group of historic houses, was defended by Douglas County Bank officials as their only reasonable course of action pending a planned expansion of the bank. The Lawrence City Commission earlier this year had approved the bank's request to rezone the area. "We are disappointed, obviously, and dismayed at the pre-dawn assault by the bank. It's clear to us that they're a rotten neighbor," said Steve Lopes, president of the OWL group. Attorney John Lungstrum, representing the bank, objected to this characterization. The demolition permits had been issued on Thursday, he said, so to portray the Saturday morning demolition as a pre-dawn assault was "dramatic language to catch the attention of the listener." Neighbors, having failed earlier to fight the rezoning, had been attempting to delay the work in order to allow people time to arrange financing for moving the houses, but the bank's board of directors reportedly had not wanted to assume the liability of such a project and also had doubted that interested individuals would be able to raise the funds quickly enough. (For the next few weeks, the Journal-World editorial pages were ablaze with angry comments for and against the demolition.)

Comments

cheeseburger 1 year, 9 months ago

The headline would have us believe there is a street named Old West Lawrence, which of course there is not.

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observant 1 year, 9 months ago

Curious, 800 block of what street?

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Ron Holzwarth 1 year, 9 months ago

I certainly remember this event. I had been inside one of the homes about a year prior to its demolition under very interesting circumstances. A description of what happened would be too long to get into here. Those circumstances were so silly and strange that they were laughed about for years by the few that heard about them.

The home that I was inside and was given a tour of had just been restored by a husband and wife team that went by the corporate name of Rainbow Renovations. They had done an excellent job, and it looked to me as though it was a very fine home in all respects. And, it was fully insulated, had a modern furnace and AC system, and all new appliances.

It was explained to me that it had been a former parsonage, and that was why it had none of the ornamentation that is referred to as gingerbread. It seemed to me that it was very large to be a parsonage, and the third story had been finished out as a very large and roomy loft bedroom.

And then one day, I read the above. The bank had purchased the home for a rather high price, without stating any intentions. And so, about a year after its complete renovation and restoration, it was demolished.

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