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Architectural Home Styles of Lawrence

Whether New, Classic, Retro, or Chic, You Can Find Something To Love

Article by Darin White

Photography by Darin White, Jackalope Photography, and Corey Gaffer Photography

Originally published in Lawrence City Lifestyle

Let's take a journey and explore the incredible diversity of a few homes in our town. Katie Hoke, a principal of the architectural firm Hoke Ley, says, "There is so much architectural character in Lawrence for a town in the Midwest. If architecture is done well, it tells about what is going on at the moment."

When seeking out architecture in Lawrence, a good place to start is Old West Lawrence (OWL) and the abundance of beautiful homes in this area. According to the OWL Association website, the boundaries of this area are from 6th and 9th Streets on the north and south, the 600 block of Missouri St. and the 700 and 800 blocks of Arkansas St. on the west, and the alley east of Kentucky St. on the east.

Retired ear, nose and throat physician Bob Dinsdale has offered walking tours of specific houses in the OWL area. Both Dinsdale and Hoke noted the stately Victorian Queen Anne home owned by the Loomis family. Queen Anne architecture was one of the many Victorian revival styles popular in mid-late 19th Century America. Rather than each home being a replica of another, this style allowed free expression within architectural elements like wrap-around porches, differing wall textures, classical columns, spindle work, monumental chimneys, towers of different shapes, overhanging eaves, dramatic gables, painted balustrades, dentils, and oriel or bay windows.

A gorgeous 1887 house owned by Michel Loomis is a classic Queen Ann. Initially owned by postmaster George Innas, the house was sold to the Funk family, undertakers whose business eventually became The Warren/McElwain Mortuary. Loomis has spent the past 38 years in the home, offering hospitality of the grand house to many others, including hosting artists such as Faith Ringgold and Dale Chihuly. She has provided space for events by the Spencer Museum of Art, the Lawrence Arts Center, and many other individuals and organizations.

One block to the east of the Loomis estate is a Folk National Style home currently owned by Jon and Barb Heeb. This architectural style speaks to using materials readily available in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. The house was built in 1870 and added onto in 1898 with an addition built over a cistern. The project of a lifetime, according to Jon Heeb, was started in 2012 and finished in 2017. The Heeb's work included digging out the cistern as part of a new basement and converting it into a stunning bathroom, all while caring for and maintaining the design style. The homeowners love the walkable location, the lifestyle, and the neighborhood.

There are many Mid-Century Modern homes in Lawrence. Not far in the Pinkney Neighborhood is a striking 1957-built home of this design nestled in the wooded landscape and renovated by Hoke Ley in 2021. This design structurally allows for removing support walls for an open space layout, allowing larger glass areas to be included. It's a design concept described by the famous architect Louis Sullivan as "form ever follows function." The house was honored by a local preservation society and is seen as this region's defining Mid-Century Modern architectural structure.

Lawrence has been on the forward edge of design and style. Contemporary houses are as unique and varied as their fine art counterparts. Architect Dan Rockhill of Rockhill and Associates has created unique, forward-thinking, interesting Contemporary design work for several years. Supported by progressives and creatives, many artists such as Rik Dishinger, Roger Shimomura and Janet Davidson-Hues have embraced Rockhill's work for their homes and studios.

When asked what Contemporary architecture to highlight, architecture professor Anne Patterson responds, "An obvious choice would be the studio 804 houses on the 300 and 400 block of Indiana."

Rockhill is also an Architectural professor and leads Studio 804, a not-for-profit group working in conjunction with the University of Kansas Architecture Department to provide hands-on training for Architectural Graduate students in their final year. A current eco-friendly project is also in the Pinkney area. It is a dark, striking, minimal-form home mounted with solar panels and windows covered in louvered wood.
 

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