Breezedale Historic District
The Breezedale Historic District (2301-2401 Massachusetts Street) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2009, The Gombach Group.
The Breezedale Historic District, located on the west side of Massachusetts Street south of 23rd Street, includes at least four houses constructed for developer Charles E. Sutton circa 1910, three houses from the same period in the early twentieth century, and two infill houses constructed after World War II. There are seven contributing residences, five contributing outbuildings, two non-contributing residences, three non-contributing outbuildings, and two contributing objects. All the non-contributors are compatible in use, material, and scale with the significant contributing resources. Residences in the Breezedale Historic District have a uniform setback and orientation.
The Breezedale Historic District is located at the southern end of Massachusetts Street. Massachusetts Street is the primary north/south artery in the historic Lawrence city plan. The street stretches from the Kansas River and the downtown central business district on the north to its southern terminus at an entrance to Haskell Indian Nations University. The terrain is generally level and the residences in the Breezedale Historic District are shaded by many mature trees.
The north boundary of the Breezedale Historic District is defined by 23rd Street, a major east-west artery, to the north. Two prominent stone markers facing 23rd Street flank the entrance to Breezedale Addition. The western boundary is defined by the rear property line of the lots facing Massachusetts; there are no alleys. The southern boundary is defined to exclude several contemporary houses dating from the post-World War II period on the west side of Massachusetts Street extending to Indian Street. On the east side of Massachusetts, the streetscape is comprised of modest residences compatible in use, material, and scale with the architectural character of the historic district. These residences date from the early twentieth century to circa 1970.
None of the residential properties in the Breezedale Historic District or adjacent neighborhood are already designated. The significant buildings contributing to the district are well-preserved examples of some of the residential property types outlined in Section F of the multiple property document, "Historic Resources of Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas" (MPS).
The contributing residences are examples of the "Comfortable House," a term that refers to the profusion of styles built in suburban settings in the United States from about 1890 to about 1930. Found throughout Lawrence, these residences are the predominant house type in the Lawrence neighborhoods developed in the early twentieth century south of the downtown business district. Typically, residences of this type freely combined forms and ornament, making distinct classifications based on architectural style difficult. Some examples of the main subtypes, based primarily on form, are found in the Breezedale Historic District. The Foursquare is a two-story building, two rooms wide and two rooms deep, with a pitched roof. Ornamental features and details may be borrowed from the Neo-Classical, Craftsman, Prairie, and other styles. The Bungalow typically was a one-story or one-and-a half-story house noted for a porch roof extending from the main house and sweeping over a front porch. Craftsman features ornament the porch, windows, exposed rafters, and eave brackets.
The Breezedale Historic District, located on the west side of Massachusetts Street south of 23rd Street, Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas, is significant for its historical association with the early twentieth century suburban development of Lawrence. Also, the Breezedale Historic District is a significant assemblage of early twentieth residential buildings in Lawrence, Kansas. This nomination is being submitted as part of the multiple property listing "Historic Resources of Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas." The residences that contribute to the sense of time and place in the Breezedale Historic District are representative examples of the "Comfortable House," a term that refers to the profusion of styles and types built in suburban settings in the United States from 1890 to 1930. Found throughout Lawrence, these residences are the predominant house type in the Lawrence neighborhoods south of downtown. Typically, residences of this type freely combined forms and ornament, making distinct classifications based on architectural style difficult. The period of significance begins with the construction of the first house in 1910 and ends with 1945, as defined by the multiple property listing.
Extending an early twentieth century trend of southern and western residential expansion, Charles E. Sutton developed the Breezedale Addition at the southern end of Massachusetts Street and the streetcar route. The plat for Breezedale was recorded May 12,1909. In an unusual venture for Lawrence, Sutton reportedly built five homes with similar architectural character between 1909 and 1910. This was the first attempt in Lawrence to create an identifiable suburban neighborhood.
At this time, Lawrence was described as the "trading metropolis for a rich and populous agricultural county." The Lawrence boasted in 1910, "Lawrence is conceded on all hands to be the most beautiful residence city in Kansas. Its homes present a uniformity in good architecture, a tasteful construction, and in delightful surroundings, rarely seen in any city in the country." However, Breezedale was so far from the town center of Lawrence that the addition developed slowly over the next three decades. Not long after Breezedale Addition was opened, there was a pause in the chronological development of residential subdivisions during the early twentieth century. The town recorded twenty-nine additions and subdivisions between 1901 and 1919, primarily in the south part of Lawrence. However, only seven new plats were recorded after 1920 — the first in 1925 and the last two in 1938.
Sutton followed the example set by Charles B. Hosford, who came to Lawrence in 1906 and formed an investment and mortgage company in 1910. Reviewing Hosford's career in 1929, the Lawrence Journal-World reported, "one of the principal contributions to the city has been the residential development carried on by this firm. Eight additions and subdivisions have been developed and placed on the market by them." The report commented that Hosford's first and second additions in 1906 were probably the first made to the town of Lawrence in twenty years. Hosford's additions extended the southern limits of the town and built up blocks on either side of Massachusetts Street between Nineteenth and Twenty-Second Streets.
Construction of an electric streetcar system in Lawrence during the fall of 1909 stimulated the development of suburban residential neighborhoods such as the Breezedale Addition. After the great 1903 flood, the earlier horse-car street railway ended its operations. Six years later, the Lawrence Light and Railway Company organized to build an electric trolley system. In September, 1909, the company opened its main route from the Santa Fe Railroad depot near the south side of the Kansas River to the southern end of Massachusetts Street. After 1927, however, the company gradually replaced the streetcars with buses.
On June 23,1909, the Lawrence Daily Journal reported, "the word "Go" was sounded shortly after noon today when the first work was begun on the local electric line, and from now on until the line is completed and cars are running it means that Lawrence will be the center of activity in part of Kansas." Rebutting those who had declared that the line would never be built to the south part of town, the Journal commented on June 26, "the fact that work actually began first on Lee Street and is now progressing on South Massachusetts Street means much to Lawrence. The laying of the big heavy steel double tracks assures that the service is to be prepared for a larger service. It also is certain that the interurban now being constructed as far as DeSoto will have its depot on the south side of town and also will have service on Massachusetts Street. It is given out from good authority that the electric line will also be extended to Haskell Institute and give a splendid service to that section of the city. Lawrence is to have a complete and splendid electric line as quickly as men, money, and rails can make them."
A few days later on June 30, the Journal boasted, "rapidly the wonderful growth continues southward... the south part of town will be the most valuable and handsomest residence section of Lawrence." The writer stated that more than fifty homes were being constructed and predicted that more than that number would be started in the near future. "Time was when people looked askance at South Lawrence, but now it is rightfully coming into its own. Judging by the activity in South Lawrence property the talk of a 'boom' might not be stated without great variation for the truth, but the fact is that the south part of town is just a natural growth, rapid to be sure, but nevertheless a healthy and substantial growth. The increase in population and the benefits of the street railway in making outside property desirable is one of the chief issues in the quick making of South Lawrence."
Later on September 14, the Journal described a last chance sale of lots by the Hosford Investment Company in the fair grounds, or race track, addition. The writer commented, "Messrs. Hosford and Brook have done wonders in building up South Lawrence. They have accomplished what many said was the impossible... And they have pushed — and then some, for they have built houses, and thereby showed their faith in the property they were pushing." Apparently, Charles E. Sutton followed the same sales plan by building the first houses in Breezedale Addition.
One of the essential steps in marketing the lots and houses in South Lawrence was the success of the Lawrence street railway. On September 19, 1909, the first electric car ran over the several miles of completed track. As the Journal boasted on September 20, "the road-bed is splendid, the cars beautiful and up-to-date, the power more than sufficient, the cars well manned with experienced men and with efficient, big men at the head of its big half-million dollar corporation, Lawrence now boasts as good a street railway as can be found in any city of equal size in the West." The reporter concluded that the event marked a new era in the history of the city and a new spirit of progress. "It meant a larger and greater Lawrence. The skeptics were vanquished and the optimists ruled. For more than two decades Lawrence had dreamed of its street railway and now the dream has become a reality." At this time, the track had been laid from the Santa Fe Depot to Massachusetts Street with a double track from Winthrop to Banks Street and a track completed to Hosford's Addition, Breezedale, and the extreme limit of Massachusetts Street.
Vital links between the street railway, the development of South Lawrence, and the new Breezedale Addition were emphasized in a September 22 article, "The South Side," on the front page of the Journal. "The street cars have made the southside. Yesterday carload after carload of people were taken to the south end of the line and for the first time saw the many improvements that were being made there." Much of the report described Breezedale, the terminal of the line, where "the McQuary-McNeil Investment Company have been doing a great work and spending thousands of dollars in building up a great addition."
As the Journal concluded, "Breezedale has long been looked upon by the investors as the future fine residence portion of Lawrence and the present summer has seen this then seemingly a vision become a reality. Five handsome modern residences are nearing completion.. . They are built upon the latest architectural design and are as fine as any residences in the city." The report described workmen putting down granitoid sidewalks in front of the homes and grading the streets. Work had begun on the "fine artistic gateway which is being erected. This will make Breezedale the Park addition to the city and will make a fitting terminal for the line."
The Journal praised the tremendous investment and the faith Mr. C. E. Sutton and the McQuary-McNeil firm had in Lawrence and the south side. "They are spending more than $20,000 on houses which are being erected in Breezedale. They are spending $1,800 on an ornamental gateway and entrance." In their two additions, Breezedale and South Ridge, they were installing "ten thousand feet of granitoid walks, ten thousand feet of sewer, ten thousand feet of water and gas pipes." Finally, the newspaper announced, "this property is selling at bottom prices now. The opening of the street car line with its rapid service to the South Side is making this property more valuable than ever every day."
In 1913, a commemorative booster publication praised Charles E. Sutton as a man "who wins and inspires success." As a reporter described him, Sutton was "a man of vigor, snap, and one full of energy, a man ever ready to size up a project and be able to gauge its possibilities in big figures. Some men are born with a capacity for big business and [sic] then able to train their minds for the execution of carefully laid plans."
As a younger man, Sutton was in poor health and came to his father's ranch in Russell County, Kansas. Later, he rented a farm of 720 acres adjoining the town, purchasing the property three years after. By 1905 he had acquired over 8,500 acres of improved land. In 1906 Mr. Sutton sold some 4,000 acres of the Sutton Ranch and moved to Lawrence where he purchased the Thummel Farm of 480 acres, five miles north of Lawrence. Later he added the tract, now known as "Breezedale" to his holdings, recording the plat for Breezedale Addition on May 12, 1909, and building five unusually attractive homes there.
A photograph illustrating the booster publication showed the stone monuments at the entrance to Breezedale and five residences to the south along the west side of Massachusetts Street. With the information currently available, it is not possible to confirm that Charles Sutton built all five of the earliest houses in Breezedale Addition. The southernmost one of these would be the Albert Brewer residence. Since Brewer was a brick mason and the first floor of this house is the only one constructed of brick, he may have built the residence. Possibly, Charles Sutton financed the construction. Whatever the exact sequence, Brewer was recorded as the owner in 1911. The scattered trees in this photo are few and relatively small. The main sources of information about the initial construction and ownership of houses in the Breezedale Addition are the Douglas County tax assessment rolls for Lawrence and city directories. Because of the distance from the central business and residential districts, the Breezedale Addition was not covered in the 1927 Sanborn Insurance Map of Lawrence.
Brief histories of the nine homes included in the Breezedale Historic District follow.
1. Carl A. Preyer Residence, 2301 Massachusetts, circa 1910, contributing. Because of its prominent corner location, it appears that this was the first house in the Breezedale Addition. Preyer was recorded as the owner of Lot 1 with a taxable value of $25.05 in 1910. Since adjacent unimproved lots were valued at $1.80, the house was completed by the end of 1910. Preyer acquired Lot 2 from Charles Sutton in 1914. Carl and Frances Preyer were listed as residents of 2401 [sic] Massachusetts in 1911. Mr. Preyer was an instructor at the University of Kansas. Frank Preyer, a student, was listed as boarding at the residence.
2. Ada McPherson Residence, 2309 Massachusetts, circa 1910, contributing. Charles Sutton was the owner of Lot 3 from 1910 until 1915 when Mrs. Ada McPherson acquired the property. The house was constructed in 1910 when the taxable value was $20.00. John D. and Lorene McNeill were tenants in 1911. Mr. McNeill was a partner in the Dale-McNeill Realty Company. Howard and Jessie Morton and their daughters, Lucie (a student) and Ruth also lived there.
3. A. P. Baecher Residence, 2315 Massachusetts, circa 1921, contributing. Sutton was the owner of Lot 4 from 1910 to 1912. J. D. Bowersock, a prominent Lawrence entrepreneur and Congressman, was the owner from 1913 to 1920. Apparently, the lot was unimproved with a value of only $2.00 until 1921 when A. P. Baecher acquired the property and the value increased to $39.00. Herbert and Lotta Hill were the tenants from 1926 to 1928. Mr. Hill was a salesman for the Hamilton Motor Company.
4. L. S. Woolsey Residence, 2317 Massachusetts, circa 1910, contributing. Sutton was the owner of Lot 5 in 1910 and the property value was $20.00 indicating that the house was constructed that year. Lew and Mary Woolsey were listed as the residents in 1911. Their children, Helen, a student at the University of Kansas, and Arthur, an electrician, were listed as boarding with them. Oliver F. and Gertrude Ulrich were listed as residents in 1917 and 1917. Mr. Ulrich was a clerk for the Burham-Munger-Root Manufacturing Company. Owen and Blanche Maloney were the tenants from 1926 to 1928. Mr. Maloney was a department manager for the Lawrence Journal-World.
5. Charles E. Sutton Residence, 2325 Massachusetts, circa 1910, contributing. Sutton was the owner in 1910 when the property value was $25.95 indicating that the house was constructed that year. Charles and Elizabeth Sutton were listed as the residents in the 1917 and 1919 city directories. Their children, Agnes and Elizabeth, both students, boarded at the address. Mr. Sutton was listed as a stockman. However, Elizabeth W. Sutton was recorded as the owner from 1918 to 1922. Charles and May Penwell acquired the property in 1924. Henry B. and Grace Ober were listed as the residents of 2425 [sic] Massachusetts from 1911 to 1915.
6. Residence, 2331 Massachusetts, circa 1950, non-contributing.
7. William Kopp Residence, 2341 Massachusetts, circa 1917, contributing. Charles Sutton was recorded as the owner of Lots 111 and 112 from 1910 to 1912. H. B. and G. H. Ober were the owners in 1913. When William Kopp acquired the property in 1914, the value was only $1.50. The house was constructed in 1917 when the value increased to $22.50. William and Pauline Kopp were listed as the residents from 1917 to 1928. Kopp was a timer employed at Grayson & Reinisch in 1917; later he was listed as proprietor of a sheet metal works.
8. Residence, 2347 Massachusetts, circa 1960, non-contributing.
9. Albert and Leona Brewer Residence, 2401 Massachusetts, circa 1911, contributing. Albert Brewer acquired Lots 114 and 115 from Charles Sutton in 1911. The property value of Lot 114 increased from $1.35 in 1910 to $48.85 in 1911 making this the most expensive house in the district. Mr. Brewer was listed as a brick masonry contractor in 1914 and 1915. The Brewers were listed as residing at 801 Alabama in west Lawrence in 1915. Sarah Lewellen acquired the property in 1915 and the directory listed James C. and Sarah Lewellen as residents from 1915 to 1919. Mr. Lewellen was employed at Haskell Institute. Paul Laptad acquired the property in 1922 and lived there through 1930. Paul and May Laptad, their children Agnes (teacher), Marguerite (stenographer), and Robert (farmer) all lived at the address in 1926.
Hernly, Stan. "Cultural Influences on Suburban Form: With Examples from Lawrence, Kansas," M. Arch. Thesis, University of Kansas (1985).
Lawrence: Today and Yesterday (Lawrence, KS: Lawrence Daily Journal-World, 1913).
Nimz, Dale E. "Living With History: A Historic Preservation Plan for Lawrence, Kansas," (Lawrence: City of Lawrence, 1985).
Wolfenbarger, Deon and Dale Nimz. "Historic Resources of Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas," National Register Multiple Property Document (1997).
R. L. Polk & Company (Sioux City, IA, St. Paul, MN, Detroit, MI: 1909, 1911, 1913-1914, 1915, 1917, 1919, 1925-1926, 1927-1928).
Lawrence Daily Journal special edition "Live Lawrence" (November 1910).
Lawrence Daily Journal, "Material Here," 5 June 1909, p.1, col.5; advertisement, "Material for Street Cars Has Arrived," p.1, cols.7-8.
Lawrence Daily Journal, "Began Work," 23 June 1909, p.1, col.4.
Lawrence Daily Journal, "Start on Lee," 26 June 1909, p.4, col.2.
Lawrence Daily Journal, "A Last Chance," 14 September 1909, p.1, col.3.
Lawrence Daily Journal, "Cars Running," 20 September 1909, p.1, col.6.
Lawrence Daily Journal, "The South Side," 24 September 1909, p.1, col.5.
Lawrence Daily Journal, "Great Deal," 12 October 1909, p.1, col.3.
Lawrence Journal-World, "Hosford Business Was Opened in 1906," October 10-11 (1929), p.18, col.1.
Tax Assessment Rolls, Douglas County, Lawrence. (1910-1930).
† Nimz, Dale E., City of Lawrence, Breezedale Historic District, nomination document, 2005, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.