Tirade and lament
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Joined: 20 May 2011
Posts: 74
Location: Kansas City

PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 1:52 am    Post subject: Tirade and lament Reply with quote

Tirade and Lament

As the title suggests, this is just a sad, personal story. I don't usually indulge myself in this way, but I am still in shock and mourning from the news I received this afternoon. Y'all on this forum are likely the only other people in the world who might care, but do not feel obligated to read on.

I love my 1946 shoebox Ranch. I would never think of cheating on my house with another house, except for this one...my dream house for 10+ years. It had been vacant since I could remember when one day in 2007, I discovered a truck in the driveway and a man grubbing weeds near the foundation. I spoke to him; he told me that he was fixing up the place and that the owner intended to lease it. I accepted his offer of a tour. A 1934 bungalow on a double corner lot with a native limestone foundation, stucco exterior, stone porch, stone fireplace and chimney...and ALL of its original millwork and windows in VERY good condition.

It's all red oak inside--the mantel, baseboard, bannister and staircase, all the sashes and muntins and trim, a coffered ceiling in the dining room which also hosts bay windows, darling little casements to each side of the fireplace, and 3/4 height built-in china cabinets with leaded glass fronts separating the dining and living room areas, topped by short columns to the ceiling. All of this red oak still wears its original varnish. All hinges and latches are original (bronze?)

The bathroom hosts its original beadboard wainscotting, medicine cabinet, and vanity. The kitchen has its original cabinets and maple countertops. All the details are there and in perfect condition, down to the clever little catches for the built-in cabinets and casement windows. It has all its original doors. Most of the weight-and-pulley window balances are intact and working as if someone oiled them yesterday.

Driving by this afternoon with a friend, I noticed a 'for lease' sign in the yard with a phone number. I had told her about the house, so we pulled in to peek through the windows at the goodies inside. We found the front door standing wide open, so after looking around I called the number on the sign to inform the owner about the door. I mentioned also to him that I'm not looking to lease, but if he ever wants to sell it, to call me.

"I'm never selling it," he said to me, and my heart filled with love for a moment.

"They're tearing it down in 3 or 4 years. This whole block."

I was so shocked, I didn't know what to say. I told him that I'm a preservationist and that the details on this house were just unreal; he responded that he would at least let the 'pickers' go through and buy the millwork, etc. I told him about "This Old House" magazine and the "Save This Old House" section in the back, and I could tell he wrote it down, but he didn't sound super-excited about preservation.

I assume he's not selling it because he's holding out for a high price from the developers. I talked years ago about starting a historic preservation society specific to that neighborhood--there are a few bungalows that are being very well-maintained--but I never got on it and now look what's happened! LOOK WHAT'S HAPPENED! I feel like it's partly my fault.

What can I do? There must be something. If I get a specific date that they plan to bulldoze it, anybody wanna come to Kansas City and form a human chain? I know I'm talking crazy right now but dammit! I've seen this happen so many times and it makes me sick in the pit of my stomach.

Measure twice, cut once.
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Joined: 20 Aug 2004
Posts: 2951
Location: Portland, Maine, USA

PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 6:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You could start by finding out who the developers are.

by hammer and hand great works do stand
by pen and thought best words are wrought
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Joined: 15 Jul 2009
Posts: 99
Location: the other portland

PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 11:18 am    Post subject: american bungalow magazine Reply with quote

american bungalow has featured KC in the past few years; if you call the editor (who often answers his own phone! try that at most magazines), he may be able to direct you to some local preservation resources, including individuals who 'know people." you may be able to relate this neighborhood to other KC buildings that the magazine has featured, and argue for preservation.

these folks may also be able to tell you that, while nice, the neighborhood would not be an easy fight for preservation, and suggest other strategies.

good luck!
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