Area around KU’s Jayhawk Boulevard becomes historic district

Also on the register

Also added to the Register of Historic Kansas Places and nominated for the National Register of Historic Places on Saturday was a Lawrence property at 1500 Haskell Ave.: the Kibbee Farmstead. The 15-acre farmstead was formed in the early 20th century and annexed into the city in 1959. Its six farm buildings, made with abundant use of concrete, still stand today.

In KU’s historic district

“Contributing resources” not already on the National Register:

• Class of 1914 Bench

• Class of 1915 Bulletin Board

• Class of 1931 Bench and Bulletin Board

• Core landscape: Marvin Grove (dates to 1878), The Hill (1924, 1951), Potter Lake and Pump House (1910)

• Facilities Operations Main Building (built in 1906)

• Fowler Grove (1898)

• Old Fowler Shops, now Stauffer-Flint Hall (1898)

• Hoch Auditorium, now Budig Hall (1927)

• Jayhawk Boulevard (1904)

• Lilac Lane (1878)

• Lindley Commons (1947)

• Lindley Hall (1947)

• Marvin Hall (1909)

• Memorial Carillon and Campanile (1951)

• Memorial Drive (1946)

• Mississippi Terrace (1878-1922)

• Pi Beta Phi Bench (1923)

• Pioneer Statue (1904)

• Power Plant (1922)

• Prairie Acre (1932)

• Rock Chalk Cairn (1926, 1951)

• Snow Hall (1930)

• Watkins Home (1937)

• Watkins Hospital, now Twente Hall (1932)

• Watson Library (1924)

• Watson Lawn (1924)

Already listed on National Register:

• Bailey Hall (1900)

• Dyche Hall (1901)

• Green Hall, now Lippincott Hall (1905)

• Dean James Woods Green Memorial Statue (1924)

• Spooner Hall (1891)

• Strong Hall (1911-1924)

From the World War II Memorial Campanile to Potter Lake to the view northward from atop Mount Oread, the landscape of the oldest parts of the Kansas University campus will now be recognized and protected for its historical significance.

On Saturday the Kansas Historical Society Historic Sites Board of Review agreed to create a KU Historic District. The district, which surrounds Jayhawk Boulevard and the crest of Mount Oread, is listed now on the Register of Historic Kansas Places, and it’s awaiting consideration for the National Register of Historic Places.

“I think there’s little question in the minds of many folks that we have some very important historic aspects that need to be not only recognized but also designated as such,” said Ed Martinko, the director of the Kansas Biological Survey who as president of the Historic Mount Oread Friends advisory board helped push for the designation.

What all that means is that the beauty of the Mount Oread scenery will be preserved for generations to come, said Dale Slusser, vice president of the HMOF board.

“I think it’s a real strong asset of the university, the beauty of our campus, and this is really going to help the university to preserve that,” Slusser said.

The district includes 20 buildings along and near Jayhawk Boulevard, five of which already are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. But it also includes landmarks, roads, landscapes and even the scenic views that give that part of the campus its feel.

“KU is blessed to have really just a gorgeous campus with great historic architecture and landscapes,” Slusser said.

The official time period reflected by the district, which must have ended at least 50 years ago to be eligible, is 1863-1951. (That end date was picked, Slusser said, so that the Campanile could be included.) Of course, some elements in the area weren’t constructed until later on, so they’re considered “noncontributing” resources. That includes Wescoe Hall, finished in 1973.

Contributing buildings include some of the oldest on campus that were already federally recognized, including Dyche and Bailey halls (built in 1901 and 1900), as well as newly designated sites including Watson Library (1924), and even Budig Hall (formerly known as Hoch Auditorium), which was deemed to have kept the integrity of its appearance despite being rebuilt in the 1990s following a fire. The original building was finished in 1927.

But the district also recognizes landmarks, roads and scenery, including three sloping landscapes to the north of the boulevard: Potter Lake, Marvin Grove and “The Hill,” trod upon by new graduates each spring at commencement.

“We’re not just talking about a collection of buildings,” said Slusser, who also works for the KU Endowment Association. “It’s more of a unified vision of what makes this campus so beautiful and so special.”

For instance, Slusser said he was thankful that the views down toward Potter Lake and Marvin Grove from atop the hill would be protected from obstruction.

“It’s really about paying attention to what makes this campus so beautiful and being very thoughtful about any changes that occur,” Slusser said.

A spot on the state and national registers can also make KU eligible for tax credits.

The recognition comes from years’ worth of work by the HMOF group and others on campus to plan for preserving the university’s history. The group, which is supported by a KU Endowment fund, chipped in $21,000 for the drafting of the nomination by a consultant. A $130,000 grant from the J. Paul Getty Trust in 2006 helped kick off the preservation effort.

An application for a second KU historic district, this one dedicated to the younger area to the east populated with scholarship halls and the chancellor’s residence, is in the works as well, Slusser said.