1501 Learnard Avenue

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David and Susan Millstein are no strangers to preservation — over many decades, their efforts have led to the successful preservation of multiple downtown Lawrence buildings and businesses, including 803 and 804 Massachusetts Street. Indeed, in 2015, Lawrence Preservation Alliance awarded David and Susan the biennial Lawrence Preservation Achievement Award for their efforts.

1501 Learnard, however, is a little different from the downtown buildings the Millsteins have preserved over the years. Spread out over 2.9 acres straddling the Barker and East Lawrence neighborhoods, 1501 Learnard served as a garden center from the 1920s through the end of 2013. When the last garden center owner put the property up for sale, Sunrise Green LLC, led by the Millsteins and the Sunrise Project, purchased the property with the intent to keep not only the historic 1920s buildings and greenhouses but also to use the property as a space to promote social justice, gardening and community.

Today, 1501 Learnard houses the nonprofit Sunrise Project, One Heart Farm, Lawrence Organics and Seeds from Italy. The Sunrise Project, whose stated mission is to “provide space and opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to build an equitable community through good food and social connection.” hosts regular events, workshops and plant sales. It also maintains a community orchard in East Lawrence. It uses the original 1927 buildings and the hoop houses that have served many plants, people and communities over the decades. 

As a result, 1501 Learnard is an example of literal historic preservation in the sense that the property is being maintained for future use and its current use preserves the history of the space. Additionally, 1501 Learnard’s role as a hub in the community paired with the social-justice-oriented work that the Sunrise Project focuses on effectively preserves and seeks to strengthen another key component of preservation — the community it serves. The fact that it is doing so in a modern way is an essential plus.

524 Ohio Street

 524 Ohio Today

524 Ohio Today

This small house was a hidden gem for years before it was purchased in early 2017 by former Lawrence residents Michele Eodice and Kami Day. Architect David Sain of Rockhill and Associates determined that under the asbestos siding was a 2-up, 2-down brick house. Research revealed that it was built in 1871 and that an addition was added in 1905. The owner of record in 1871 was J. Whiteside, a plasterer. 

In an almost year-long renovation, the house was stabilized and a small addition was minimally attached to the existing house with a hyphen (bridge) located where a window had been. Evidence uncovered during the removal of the shingle siding revealed the “shadow” of a former wraparound front porch that connected the front door of the brick house to the door that entered the 1905 addition. The porch was shown on a 1905 Sanborn Fire Insurance map, and its existence was further confirmed in the course of researching the house’s history. A new wraparound porch became part of the plan. 

 524 Ohio prior to rehabilitaiton

524 Ohio prior to rehabilitaiton

Many of the interior walls and ceilings are now simply repaired original plaster, and the rest is a new finish plaster coat on drywall. All the steel work is custom. The floors are the original wood, with the exception of the addition, which uses salvaged oak flooring. The house is now a contributing structure to the Nationally Registered Pinckney Historic District #2 and eligible for state tax credits.

916 Kentucky Street

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Preservation in Progress (PIP) is rarely fast; sometimes it can be really slow! LPA has been watching the whole-house rehabilitation at 916 Kentucky for several years, and we are delighted to now recognize this deserving project on the western edge of downtown. 

Longtime LPA member and local landlord James Dunn, who lives just a few doors down at 936 Kentucky, has owned this property since 1978. He was in the initial phases of an exterior rehab when a fire started by a tenant’s cigarette damaged the distinctive stacked front porches facing Kentucky Street. There was no damage to the interior of the structure, but it did put into perspective just how much James wanted to accomplish with the rehab.

James began working with Ryan Cecil of Cecil Construction, a business relationship that is still ongoing. Cecil has employed a steady, small crew and has used mechanical lifts and scaffolding to access this large rental property. As Cecil has moved from task to task, he has increased his knowledge and capabilities with particular aspects of the job, such as window restoration.

The slow pace of the work has been due to the logistics of building occupancy (when tenants have left, the contractor has rehabbed the vacated area before new tenants move in), and the fact that Cecil has other clients with projects to complete as well.

Foundation waterproofing, front porch rebuild, chimney rebuilds, stain glass repair, window restoration and copper guttering are all evident in this rehab. It’s not done yet but LPA has seen enough to know it’s a PIP winner.

726 Louisiana Street

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Susan and Mitchell Chaney have been involved in several rehabilitation projects, including the Eldridge Hotel and 742 Indiana St. In 2015, they were walking their dogs by 726 Louisiana while an open house was in progress. As they toured the house, they decided that it should be their next project.

The front of the house, facing Louisiana, was not significantly changed on the inside. On the exterior, the front door and damaged trim were replaced, and storm windows were added.Walls and floor were restored and repaired and the entire interior was repainted. All but a few of the original doors and hardware were used. The entire outside of the house was stripped of all its old paint and repainted.

The Chaneys hired Mark Engleman as their contractor and began the renovation project while continuing to live at 742 Indiana. Paul Van Saun was the major restorer/painter.

The Chaneys told us they love their new home and the Old West Lawrence neighborhood. 

2115 Learnard Avenue

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Mike and Rechelle Malin purchased 2115 Learnard in June 2016 and recently complete a major rehabilitation on the house, which is believed to have been built in 1865. Mike and Rechelle did most of the demolition themselves. Along the way they uncovered an old well, an old cased entry with a transom window that was completely hidden inside of a closet and a large beam in the subfloor that looked, due to a variety of peculiar notches, as if it had been salvaged from another project. 

When the couple tore out the ceiling in the foyer, a time capsule fell out. The Higbe family, who owned the house prior to the Malins, had placed several photos, a to-do list and a few other items inside a plastic bag in the floor of the upstairs bathroom when they remodeled it about 20 years ago. The Malins returned the items to the Higbes.

During the rehabilitation, the entire house was gutted, and the back of the house, which housed the kitchen, a utility room and an enclosed porch, was deemed structurally unsound and had to be pulled off. The house retains the same footprint of the old house, but the interior has been reconfigured to reflect modern family life. What was once a warren of smaller rooms on the main floor is now one large living space with an open connection to the kitchen. The four large bedrooms on the second floor were made slightly smaller to accommodate two new bathrooms and a laundry. The Malins were able to save some of the old wood floors on both levels of the house.  

Eric Wagner was the general contractor for the project, and Steve Malin of Treanor architects helped the Malins with some of the details of the plan. The house turned out beautifully and the family is very happy with the results. They enjoy the Barker neighborhood and the rural quality of life on Learnard. 

2017 Preservation Achievement Awards, May 25, 2017

Please join us for another special evening as we honor this year’s winners: Shelley Hickman Clark, Karl Gridley, Depot Redux and Diane Stoddard. The Preservation Achievement Award, created in 2009, honors individuals or groups who have contributed in extraordinary ways to help preserve buildings or natural sites significant to the history of Lawrence and Douglas County.

Shelley Hickman Clark is a retired Clinical Professor of Law at the University of Kansas. Specializing in preservation law, she has both taught preservation in the classroom and argued it in the courtroom. She has a keen interest in preserving territorial sites and significant cultural resources in the unincorporated areas of Douglas County, and it shows in all the great preservation groups (including LPA!), she has either served on or chaired. She is the current chair of the Douglas County Heritage Conservation Council.

Karl Gridley is a Lawrence native who has a deep appreciation of territorial history, trails, cemeteries and any structures of native stone. This has led him to important work at Barber School (just north of Clinton Lake), Black Jack Battlefield, Pioneer Cemetery and many off-the-beaten-path stone fences, family plots and foundation ruins his many friends in the county wish to stabilize or preserve. For a number of years he has lived in and cared for the Larson House, the last remaining stone house associated with the Wilder & Palm Windmill Agricultural Works, which operated until 1885.

Depot Redux is a volunteer group formed by Carey Maynard-Moody in 2008 to bring attention to the Amtrak stop at our midcentury modern Santa Fe Station at 413 E 7th Street. This dedicated group took it upon themselves to clean up the dilapidated facility and keep it that way, improve safety there for passengers, and educate the public about this local architectural gem both misunderstood and forgotten. When the first of three different City Commissions voted to begin negotiations for the city to become owner of the building, assistant City Manager Diane Stoddard began one of the most difficult negotiations of her career. Nine years later, when the current City Commission voted to officially take ownership, and with a funded rehab project ready to roll this summer, Carey, Diane and all those Redux volunteers were still standing. Good things come to those who work!

Reserve your space! It’s easy—buy tickets here.

St. John Parish, 1228 Vermont Street

While other congregations have left the core of Lawrence over the years for greenfield campus developments on the outskirts of town, St. John the Evangelist Parish long ago decided to retain its historic footprint on the western edge of downtown. With a decision such as that comes problems that must be solved when church and school expansion are planned. As part of a $3.3 million project that will include a new gymnasium and conversion of the old gym into a visual and performing arts center, an old house at the corner of 12th and Kentucky that had once been the Convent for the Sisters of Charity was in the way.

Architect and parishioner Dan Sabatini and his wife Nicole saw the structure’s historic value and continued utility to the parish if a new location could be found. Sure enough, the building would fit nicely between the school on the Vermont street side and the parish center, which is also located in a well-kept older house. The plan was enthusiastically supported by parishioners, who cherish their long Lawrence history.

When the day of the big move came, the children of St. John School all came outside in early February to watch the Convent roll on a trailer to its new location just a block away. This is a preservation lesson those children will never forget, and St. John can attest that sometimes the greenest field is the one closest to home.

726 Ohio Street

Unlike some who buy an older property and feather the nest before moving in, Ernie Eck and Patricia Karlin have lived at 726 Ohio Street for several decades, completing numerous improvement projects over time. The more they fell in love with their house, the more they realized they wanted to undertake a major exterior rehabilitation. Beginning in spring 2016, the asbestos shingle siding came off and new cedar lap siding was installed. Custom wood storm windows were fabricated to fit each window opening and new French gutters were installed. The project was topped off with a striking four-color paint job. Their work took the property from non-contributing to contributing to the Old West Lawrence Historic District.

 

 

534 Ohio Street

Todd and Kelly Foos are completing their rehab work before moving in, but because Todd has done much of the work himself, and the house was in such horrible shape when they bought it, it’s taken them years to get to the point where this total interior/exterior project is close to completion. The property had been cut up into apartments by previous owners and had suffered from abuse and neglect. Now this great older home is a credit to the Pinckney neighborhood Todd and Kelly soon will call home. The couple even saved and rehabilitated all their old windows, a preservation act that is a surefire way to get LPA representatives bearing awards to show up at the door!

The Johnson Block

Michael Arp bought his house a number of years ago from a couple that had once shared the LPA presidency, so the house was already in good shape. He did worry about the stability of the surrounding neighborhood, though. As he researched the area, he discovered that the west side of the 800 block of Missouri and the east side of Arkansas, with a shared alley between them, were developed by Victor Johnson as a model block subdivision in 1909. Michael continued his research and began talking with his neighbors about nominating the Johnson Block as a Historic District in the Lawrence Register of Historic Places. Working with Historic Resources Administrator Lynne Zollner, and with the help of LPA, which provided grant funding to hire an architectural historian to finish required documentation and write the nomination, Michael was able to achieve near-unanimous support from his neighbors in the proposed district. The City Commission approved the Johnson Block historic listing late last year. Great job Michael!

545 Ohio Street

Mike Randolph, of Free State Properties, has rehabbed a number of core neighborhood properties over the years, and this one certainly caught our eye. He purchased this house and began a careful rehab after years of neglect. The project included a rebuilt porch, new roof, HVAC, insulation, kitchen and bath areas, landscape and paint. The original windows, siding, flooring and trim were restored.

Because the property is in the Pinckney I Historic District, the work plan required approval by the Lawrence Historic Resources Commission (HRC), and Mike was able to use the state Historic Tax Credit program to offset some of his costs. He has since sold the property, so the Pinckney neighborhood now has one more rehabbed house and one more happy homeowner.

821 Indiana Street

Trey and Rae Toman purchased this large Old West Lawrence home that had also fallen victim to years of deferred maintenance. Taking most of the summer, their project included a long list of general updates and repairs, painting, landscaping and renovation of interior spaces. They also are doing some foundation repair. This is how older neighborhoods become enviable to others: diligent and dedicated homeowners working carefully, one house at a time.

739 Alabama Street

The Learned House recently changed hands after many years of occupancy by one owner. Mark Kramer, who has lived in Old West Lawrence for a number of years, purchased the property and began taking on the years of deferred maintenance, and we’re sure glad he did. General cleanup, structural repairs, new paint and wall surfaces, trim restoration and landscaping were all part of the program. Updated kitchen and bath areas are next.