LS historic districts celebrated this month

rpulley@lsjournal.comMay 3, 2013 

  • More information 19 is number of historic districts Lee’s Summit has on National Register of Historic Places

Lee’s Summit has put much effort into listing buildings and districts on the National Register of Historic Places.

Earlier this year three more districts were added to bring the total to 19.

That’s more than any other city in the area, said Kathy Smith, president of the Lee’s Summit Historical Society and chair of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.

So it’s fitting that the commission and historical society are planning events to celebrate during May which is National Historic Preservation Month.

Aside from curiosity and recognizing the city’s heritage, the historic districts give residents a sense of place and appreciation for city’s oldest buildings, Smith said.

It also plays a role in economic development, she said.

“That helps keep neighborhoods intact,” Smith said. “Once your neighborhoods are secure, your downtown is secure.”

In February the latest districts were placed on the National Register of Historic Places:

• Bayles Addition Historic District a subdivision of predominantly ranch-style construction, the Bayles Addition Historic District, bounded by SW Jefferson, SW Third Street, SW Fifth Street, SW Fourth Street and SW Walnut Street. It about 29 acres built between 1948 and 1965

Southwest Market Street, numbers 314 to 418, with late Victorian, and late 19th and early 20th Century American movement architecture

• Browning Row, numbers 202 to 300 SW Third Street which contain Colonial Revival and American Foursquare architectures

Smith said the historic homes are a drawing card for people interested in buying homes in areas with unique flavor.

That was the case for Candy Holcombe Myers who moved to Lee’s Summit from Liberty.

In 2011 she bought a house that once belonged to E.T. Browning (1852-1901) who was a prominent merchant, co-owner of Browning Brothers Dry Goods Store.

“It’s a great house, a beautiful home, I love the fact that everybody loves what I did to it,” Myers said. “I tried to do everything I could to preserve the originality of the house.”

She said there were practical limits on how much restoration to the original was possible. Previous owners had added a bath room upstairs and she left that. However, she took up carpeting and had new wood custom-milled for hardwood flooring which needed replacing. The slats were sizes no longer normally manufactured.

Myers said when she was getting ready to buy there was a bit of hesitation until she learned Lee’s Summit doesn’t impose special regulations on homeowners as a result of the historic districts.

So Myers is happy with being on the register.

“It increases the value of my home, that side is definitely an advantage, to be recognized,” Myers said.

There also are tax credits available, but in her case it was too late to take advantage of them because she’d done most of the work before the district was in place.

The Historic Preservation Commission will be presenting plaques for the houses at 202, 204 and 206 SW Third Street. Those homes will be open for tours 2 to 4 p.m. and a docent will be on hand to speak about the area’s history at the commission’s annual Strawberry Lawn Fete.

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