Historic home in the Breezedale neighborhood blends original characteristics with functional renovations

photo by: Mike Yoder

The craftsman style house at 2315 Mass. St. in the Breezedale neighborhood was built in the early 20th century.

From exchanging modern light fixtures for antiques to patching holes in the original wood floor, Darin Fischer and his family are trying to return their historic home to its original style.

Their craftsman-style house, located at 2315 Massachusetts St., has a similar look to its neighbors in the historic Breezedale district, which is thought to be Lawrence’s first suburban neighborhood. Many of the homes on Fischer’s block were built in the early 20th century, some as early as 1909.

“It’s endless, these homes, in terms of both upkeep and for us, trying to get more and more back to what it was originally — or, at least the feel of originality,” Fischer said.

photo by: Mike Yoder

The family spends a lot of their time on the wide, shaded front porch that overlooks their Breezedale neighborhood, just south of 23rd Street and west of Haskell Indian Nations University. Darin Fischer and his daughter Aubrey are pictured on the porch.

Fischer, his daughter, Aubrey Fischer, and his partner all moved into the home in 2017. They had been seeking a “historically unadulterated” home, and this one had original wood floors, woodwork and windows.

But while Fischer loved historic architecture, he also said the home had “to blend with functionality.” Before they moved in, the couple renovated the kitchen. They stripped the kitchen and adjusted the layout of the appliances, creating a more open space where two or three people can cook at the same time.

photo by: Mike Yoder

A remodeled kitchen was one of the couple’s biggest remodel projects after purchasing the home.

“I know exactly where the original sink was, and we didn’t put it there because having a workable kitchen is more important,” he said.

Fischer also created a walk-in pantry in the kitchen in a space that used to be an entrance to a bathroom. Fischer closed off part of the bathroom to account for the pantry space.

photo by: Mike Yoder

As part of a big kitchen remodel, a new double-door conceals the kitchen pantry.

The home is an American Foursquare, Fischer said, meaning it is laid out in four square rooms per level. The home is also considered a shirtwaist house, with stone that wraps around the bottom part of the house. In this case, the stone is limestone from Mount Oread.

On the first floor, in addition to the kitchen, there is also a dining room, a living room and a small side room that the family calls the music room. The living room has a large fireplace on which Fischer hopes to eventually add an antique mantel. Like most rooms in the home, the living room features art from local artists, some of whom Fischer knows personally. Fischer is currently the art teacher at Prairie Park Elementary, and he specializes in pottery and printmaking. He will retire from his teaching position this week.

The dining room features a built-in hutch and antique chandelier. Fischer replaced all the light fixtures in the home with antiques, many of which came from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. The dining room chandelier, which the family found at Habitat ReStore, was originally owned by the Weaver family, of Weaver’s department store.

photo by: Mike Yoder

A view from the living room into the dining room shows some of the home’s original wood trim around the passageway and the built-in cabinet, in the far wall, a trademark of Craftsman style homes.

photo by: Mike Yoder

When the family purchased the home they restored more modern light fixtures with older ones, matching the home’s original decor. Many of their finds were picked up at Habitat ReStore in Lawrence.

Across from the living room, to the right of the home’s entrance, is the music room, although Fischer said the family typically just uses it as a place to drink coffee. They call it the music room because that’s what the back of the floor baseboards said.

photo by: Mike Yoder

This view shows what the couple calls the music room, in the foreground at right, and the passageway into the kitchen at left.

On the second floor, Lawrence High School senior Aubrey was finishing up some of her classwork. She graduates this week, and her graduation regalia was hanging from a hook on the wall. Aubrey’s room includes a front part with a desk and a back portion — where her bed is — that used to be the home’s sleeping porch.

Aubrey said she, too, enjoys the layout of the house, its architecture and “how old everything is.” She also likes the home’s location. Before she got her driver’s license, she could walk to Lawrence High.

photo by: Mike Yoder

Darin’s daughter Aubrey Fischer, a senior at Lawrence High School, has her second-floor room in part of what used to be the home’s original sleeping porch, shown through the passageway, background left.

The upstairs also includes the couple’s bedroom, a guest bedroom and an office.

Fischer said that despite the home’s small square footage — around 1,550 square feet — the house doesn’t feel small, and that every bit of space is used to the fullest. Fischer also spoke highly of the Breezedale neighborhood, not only for its rich history but also for its current community feel.

The Breezedale Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places. According to the Kansas Historical Society, it was the first attempt in Lawrence to create an identifiable suburban neighborhood. The district was developed by architect Charles Sutton, who built five homes with similar architectural character in 1909 and 1910. According to the National Register nomination form, 2315 Massachusetts St. was likely built later.

What Fischer tells guests? “My short on this is that this was the first urban sprawl of Lawrence, Kansas.”

Today, Fischer said he knows almost all his neighbors, and that many share his love of history. The neighborhood came together on Halloween in 2020 to host a socially distanced trick-or-treating event for the neighborhood kids. He also called Haskell Indian Nations University a great neighbor and said he enjoys its art markets and pow wows.

Despite being right off of a busy intersection — 23rd and Massachusetts streets — Fischer said it’s not distracting.

“It still feels pretty quiet and laid back. The whole neighborhood is,” he said.

Fischer said he and his family are often on the porch and can be found watching passing drivers get surprised by the speed bump in front of their home. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

photo by: Mike Yoder

A decorative stairway leads from the first floor to the second.

photo by: Mike Yoder

A view from the back entrance door shows the laundry area and passage to the remodeled kitchen.

photo by: Mike Yoder

A deck overlooks the backyard on the west side of the home.


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