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City considers fate of Packard graveyard in middle of Lawrence

This 2012 file photo shows 15 deteriorating Packard automobiles in the partially fenced-in backyard at 1106 Rhode Island.

This 2012 file photo shows 15 deteriorating Packard automobiles in the partially fenced-in backyard at 1106 Rhode Island.

March 12, 2012


The Packard brand of automobiles has been extinct since the mid-1950s, and now Lawrence city commissioners are being asked to put an end to perhaps their largest Lawrence resting grounds as well.

City commissioners at their meeting on Tuesday will start the process of declaring the property at 1106 Rhode Island unsafe and in need of demolition.

“The property presents itself pretty much as a junk yard,” said Brian Jimenez, the city’s code enforcement manager. “There is really no other way to describe it.”

Fans of the late Packard automobiles — big boats of a machine that once were among the most luxurious of American autos — might see the site as a rare opportunity. The property, which is just east of the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center, has 15 deteriorating Packard automobiles in its overgrown, partially fenced backyard.

“I’m not a car guy, but I think they probably still have some value to collectors,” said Jimenez.

If not, they at least still have a story. An old garage on the property still has the sign of “University Motors,” which research shows began serving as the city’s Packard dealership in the mid-1940s.

The property is owned by the estate of Raymond Barland. According to a 2004 obituary for Barland, he and his brothers Delmar and Leroy started University Motors in 1947. Old phone books indicate the dealership was in the 700 block of New Hampshire Street into the 1960s.

How the cache of cars ended up at 11th and Rhode Island isn’t clear. Brian Barland, a son of Raymond Barland, didn’t return phone calls for this article. City officials aren’t sure how the cars ended up there either, and at this point they’re more interested in how they’re going to be removed from the site.

“The situation at the property right now is a pretty significant issue from a code standpoint,” Jimenez said.

Commissioners at their Tuesday meeting won’t take any final action to order the vehicles’ removal or to demolish the abandoned house and other structures. Instead, commissioners will set May 15 as a public hearing date to consider the issue.

Determining how to deal with the houses and sheds on the property may end up being a larger issue than ordering the old cars to be removed. The house, even though it is in bad need of repair, is still considered a “contributing structure” to the North Rhode Island Residential Historic District. As a result, the city’s Historic Resources Commission will consider the future of the property at its April meeting. But as Jimenez said, historic resources commissioners generally don’t like approving the demolition of a historic property without first seeing a replacement plan.

Jimenez said the Barland family hasn’t presented to him any replacement plan or plans to rehabilitate the property. Although the city has the legal authority to declare the structures unsafe and order their demolishing, they don’t have the authority to force the property owners to build new structures on the property.

“We might run into a quandary, so to speak,” Jimenez said. “If the current owners don’t have the ability to rehab it, we still won’t want this property to continue to sit there in its current condition. We’ll just have to wait and see how the Historic Resources meeting goes.”


To Sides 6 years, 3 months ago

Wow! 15 Packards across the street from the Judicial Law Enforcement Building for at least 8 years and now they are getting noticed.....Don't ask. don't tell.

deec 6 years, 3 months ago

Convenient they find the cars and code violations just when there is a push to encroach on East Lawrence. What a coincidence.

tolawdjk 6 years, 3 months ago

My first thought at "graveyard" was something to do with Alfred Packard.

If you are debating about what to have for dinner, google ole Alfred up.

tolawdjk 6 years, 3 months ago

And then I looked for a link and realized it was Packer and not Packard. My bad. Carry on with your car graveyards.

LogicMan 6 years, 3 months ago

Good ol' Al; he served his fellow man.

Shane Garrett 6 years, 3 months ago

Quick someone call those American Picker guys!

Richard Heckler 6 years, 3 months ago

The old structures do have soul to them and in their own way are quite attractive.

Bring on the Packards = nice cars they were.

For a period in my life I cruised in a 1950 Hudson. The back seat was like a sofa. Such fun.

riverdrifter 6 years, 3 months ago

Those Packards are worth $$$ if restorable and still have value if only for parting out. Packard collectors are probably the most rabid of the Amecian vintage car bunch.

patkindle 6 years, 3 months ago

not too many folks want to get thier hands dirty in lawrence especially on an old car these will have to end up somewhere else many miles from the city of lawrence

i suspect the prperty taxes are not paid or something why else would the city be interested??

unless some one has a bad view of it from thier office window

blindrabbit 6 years, 3 months ago

Anybody heard of E-Bay Motors; many Packards there, still collected by a dedicated group! I remember someone in Lawrence had a "brand new" 1958 Packard Hawk, a varient of the Studebaker Hawks; Packard had been taken over by Studebaker in an attempt to save both. The Hawk if I remember correctly had a ginormous 375 H.P. engine, could really get down the road. A little to avant-gard in appearance to catch on though!

blindrabbit 6 years, 3 months ago

Correct my prior: The 1958 Packard Hawk had a 275 H.P. engine, but with a McCollugh Supercharger; could beat a 1958 Fuel Injected Corvette in a drag race. The only "more unique" new car that I saw sold in Lawrence was a 1953 Buick Skylark ( 1 allotted per dealer) by Parker Buick, the Border Bookstore building now! The 53 Skylarks (less than 900 made) in mint condition are worth over 200K now. I was sacking groceriers at 23rd. St. Rusty's when Bill Brewer ( more usually his wife) drove the Skylark to the store; we fought over who was going to carry out the order as a means of looking the car "over". Light blue with a dark blue convertible top!

Stephanie Hull 6 years, 3 months ago

+1, or they can claim it's an extension of the bargain recycling center. The city would let them ignore all the building codes then.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 3 months ago

The body designs of the Packard and Studebaker Hawks were ahead of their time. So aerodynamic.

Yes there is a lot rust in that yard but who knows. An auction would be fun to attend.

verity 6 years, 3 months ago

I've heard that there's more to the history here as far as some effort quite a few years ago to get Mr Barland to sign up for some kind of historical renovation. Does anybody know anything about that?

I have watched that eyesore go from bad to worse over the years. If it had been kept up, it probably would be a nice place, but it looks like a "renovation" would mean completely rebuilding it. Surprised the outbuildings haven't blown over in the Kansas wind. Despite being a bleeding heart, loony left liberal, I do believe that sometimes Lawrence goes a little overboard in trying to save absolutely every old building. Sometimes a parking lot would be better and with the new housing on the adjacent lots, the 1100 block of Rhode Island has become a nightmare.

Mike Myers 6 years, 3 months ago

au contraire mon frere. There is still plenty there to save and those buildings have tremendous spirit. Never, never ever would a parking lot be better than what is possible there. Use your imagination. Think of Sunfire ceramics and open your mind to the possibilities.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 3 months ago

There are many homes in Lawrence that I would love to purchase, demolish, and then build an exact duplicate of, except with all modern conveniences.

I wonder if the historical preservationists would allow someone to do that.

Matthew Herbert 6 years, 3 months ago

The hysterical, I mean historical, preservationists don't like a lot of things. A friend of mine was denied the right to add a garage to her house because the home was deemed "historic" and in its original pre-automobile condition had no garage. I still don't understand the legality involved in someone not being able to alter THEIR OWN HOME.

blogme 6 years, 3 months ago

Not to knock ya Renaissance, but therein lies the fallacy: the fallacy of ownership. Miss a tax payment and you'll see who really owns it. Whomever has the right to forcibly take it from you owns it. :-(

Scott Morgan 6 years, 3 months ago

At 18 and attending my beloved grandparents 50th wedding anniversary a couple who were close friends drove up in a fully restored 1930s Packard. Cool plus+ 100.

Maybe not restored, just well kept. The huge black vehicle changed my opinion on what was cool. Keep your GTOs and Firebirds, give me an elegant old vehicle like that.

April Fleming 6 years, 3 months ago

Apparently city commissioners never go up to North Lawrence. Junkyards galore.

lifedivided 6 years, 3 months ago

North Lawrence is full of junkyards only because the city doesn't give a flying flip about it. I've lived in North Lawrence my entire life and not once has the city reached out to us in any of our efforts to try to make it better. North Lawrence would be in much better condition and not full of junkyards if the city would actually listen to those of us living there who want it to be a great place to live. It's hard to get anything done when you have to wait for city approval for everything little thing and it takes them over a year to do anything about it.

April Fleming 6 years, 3 months ago

I live up there myself and love it. Love that it's got its own relaxed feel, very little traffic, farms, etc. But it seems to be the one place in town where you can really fly that hoarder flag. Or make crazy mods to your house. I was just surprised that these codes actually get enforced... I guess you have to have neighbors that care.

Scott Tichenor 6 years, 3 months ago

I live close to this junkhole in East Lawrence. Encroaching upon East Lawrence? Oh, please, give it up. People who are homeowners here are tired of this crap call of the out-of-touch people that want the property values to be depressed in this area. This has been a hazard for decades. Amazing its taken this long to do something about it. When it's gone, I won't miss it. If they want to rehab the old buildings, grand.

deec 6 years, 3 months ago

Attempting to build a 6 story hotel at the edge of a historical, modest income neighborhood, seems like encroachment to me.

Matthew Herbert 6 years, 3 months ago

Seems like free market economics to me. Don't want your neighbors house to become a rental/hotel/etc, the solution is simple: buy it. Otherwise don't criticize those who invest in the local real estate

JustNoticed 6 years, 3 months ago

"The Packard brand of automobiles has been extinct since the mid-1950s, and now Lawrence city commissioners are being asked to put an end to perhaps their largest Lawrence resting grounds as well." If you're going to lead with this, you should then explain WHO is asking. What does that mean anyway? Jimenez isn't doing the asking, is he? It doesn't seem like it. He's just responding to it. You should explain, ESPECIALLY since it's your lead.

Chad Lawhorn 6 years, 3 months ago

Sorry I confused you. City staff is doing the asking. As far as whether staff members are responding to a complaint from a neighbor, I don't know. According to Jimenez's memo, he's been working to get the property owner to bring the property into compliance since 2010, but Jimenez decided it had reached the point that not enough progress had been made to bring the property into compliance with the code. Thus, the city's enforcement staff is asking the city commission to allow it to take the next step in the enforcement process. Hope that helps. Thanks, Chad

pizzapete 6 years, 3 months ago

The owner of this house should think about fixing it up, find that it's not economically feasable, and then ask the city for a couple million to help build a parking garage. At the very least they should get a few hundred thousand in tax breaks just to clean up the property.

patkindle 6 years, 3 months ago


Richard Heckler 6 years, 3 months ago

Yes restore or bring back energy star duplicates...

Richard Heckler 6 years, 3 months ago

Someone with some extra cash and time could create some very cool living quarters by restoring. Likely would have a better built home than some new homes built in the last 30 years.

patkindle 6 years, 3 months ago


FlintlockRifle 6 years, 3 months ago

Just hope the city advertises these so the Packard collectors across the country came come and bid, not let some junk dealer buy them for little of nothing , and they will be gone forever.

patkindle 6 years, 3 months ago




Richard Heckler 6 years, 3 months ago

This lot is not new business. It's been on the table before. Why not asked the owner to bulld a new fence around the entire lot and then life can go on?

Who is pushing this agenda item?

riverdrifter 6 years, 3 months ago

I think the two in the right foreground are Packard Caribbeans. Looks like there's plenty to work with here for restorers.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 3 months ago

There is plenty of material here for Lawrence to start a "City Museum/St Louis " .

Park the cars is such a fashion that say face a big screen out around a patio. Hey Johnny's are you all reading this. Think your river rehab project. Serve customers their beverage and chow in the cars.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 3 months ago

Nothing that a dab of Bondo and a few gallons of Colorback can't fix.;)

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