1120 Rhode Island

After a number of years of not attempting rehab projects, LPA teamed up with an affordable housing non-profit, Tenants to Homeowners (TTH), in 2009-2010 to rehab a very distressed one-story vernacular home on the western border of the East Lawrence Neighborhood.  This was part of a greater TTH project of infill affordable housing on three adjoining vacant lots.   Built in 1888 (with an earlier inner-core 10.5’ by 12.5’ subsistence-level cabin that was discovered during rehab), this side of the block had been the scene of a neighborhood struggle with the County government involving a jail and a parking expansion proposal in the 1980s.  The end result of that county/neighborhood skirmish was three teardowns, 1120 vacant and left for dead, and a defeated jail and parking proposal.

1120 Rhode Island Before (L) and After (R)

1120 Rhode Island Before (L) and After (R)

LPA embarked on a major rehab on the structure, which is a contributing property within the North Rhode Island Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.  Working with Dan Hermreck on project design, decisions were made to remove the extensively repaired and failing foundation and replace it with a concrete knee-wall and crawlspace under the front of the house, and a small mechanical room/basement under the back.  The house was rewired, replumbed, and received a new roof, insulation and interior walls.  The old windows, floors and trim were saved, and the house received a high-efficiency furnace and a tank-less water heater.

As a final touch, board member Mike Goans led a group of architectural students in a thorough rehab of the detached original ancillary structure at the back of the property, which might be one of the smallest two-story barns in the city!  Drive around the alley today to see this sweet little structure enjoying its second life.

Aside from the central collaboration of preservation and affordable housing, many other entities participated in the project.  The County donated the land, TTH put up their typical funding for a project of that size and also won several small grants. LPA participated in the State Historic Tax Credit program, and was able to sell the tax credits after completion of the project.  LPA’s financial outlay was about $15,000.

In 2011, the project received an Honor Award from the Kansas Preservation Alliance (KPA).  In his nomination letter Oliver Finney, LPA’s first President, wrote: “It’s difficult to overestimate the importance to a volunteer historic preservation organization of actually producing something of tangible and aesthetic value.  We constantly fight against the tendency to succumb to lengthy discussions lamenting lost or threatened structures.  Doing something is critical to maintaining a healthy organization.”