Hancock Historic District
The Hancock (12th Street) Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. 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 Hancock (12th Street) Historic District (circa 1907-1925) is located in Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas. The Hancock (12th Street) Historic District is nominated to the National Register of Historic Places as significant under National Register Criteria A and C in the area of Community Planning and Development for its association with the University of Kansas and in the area of Architecture as a collection of turn-of-the-century housing styles as described in the Multiple Property Documentation Form, Historic Resources of Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas (MPDF). This area retains a high degree of integrity in placement, setbacks, design and street features. The context for the housing types within the Hancock (12th Street) Historic District are described in the MPDF's Associated Property Types, Late Victorian Residences and 20th Century Revival and American Movement Houses.
The Hancock (12th Street) Historic District is located adjacent to the north edge of the University of Kansas in blocks 8 and 9 of the Oread Addition subdivision. The District encompasses approximately two blocks of dwellings and outbuildings. The Hancock (12th Street) Historic District includes the properties on the north and south sides of the 700 block of W. 12th Street, as well as adjacent properties on Mississippi Street, Indiana Street and Oread Avenue.
The Hancock (12th Street) Historic District's character reflects the description set forth in the MPDF for the period between 1900 and 1945, a Quiet University Town. Many of the houses in the Hancock (12th Street) Historic District were built for instructors and the University of Kansas and every building in the district has housed at least one person associated with the University. The topography and landscaping of W. 12th Street and Mississippi shield the houses from the parade of students that have passed by daily for nearly a century. The properties range from small Bungalows to impressive architect-designed homes to a 1922 apartment building. Most of the buildings retain their integrity in design and materials. The shaded streets still have stone retaining walls and decorative planted areas in the medians, elements considered character-defining features of the Hancock (12th Street) Historic District.
The Hancock (12th Street) Historic District consists of eleven dwellings — nine contributing and two non-contributing — and two non-contributing garages. The total number of buildings is 13, nine contributing and four non-contributing. It should be noted that the two non-contributing dwellings are considered so due to the addition of non-historic features. These buildings would likely gain contributing status if these features were removed.
The house styles of the Hancock Historic District are fairly evenly divided among 20th Century types. Housing styles within the district are as follows: 3 Colonial Revival, 3 Prairie, 3 Craftsman, 1 Shingle, and 1 Commercial style.
The Hancock (12th Street) Historic District (circa 1907-1925) is located in Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas. The district is significant for its association with the University of Kansas (KU) and in the area of Architecture as a collection of turn-of-the-century housing styles. This area retains a high degree of integrity in placement, design and street features. The context for the history of Lawrence and housing types are, Late Victorian Residences and 20th Century Revival and American Movement Houses.
History of the District
The Hancock Historic District is comprised of a collection of single- and multiple-family dwellings. Development of this area is directly tied to the growth of the University of Kansas during the early 20th Century. Eight of the properties — 1208 Mississippi, 1200 Mississippi, 706 W. 12th, 704 W. 12th, 1209 Oread, 711 W. 12th, 1140 Mississippi and 1138 Mississippi — were designed and built as single family homes. Many of these homes were either built for instructors at KU or were occupied early by instructors or students. Even in owner-occupied homes, city directories often listed additional boarders as residing within the homes. The district is named for Hancock Street, the former name for 12th Street.
Several of the properties within the Hancock (12th Street) Historic District have served as housing for numerous individuals. The house at 707-709 W. 12th Street was either built as a duplex or was converted to one within three years of construction. The large rooming house at 1145 Indiana and the Oread Apartments at 1201-1205 Oread were clearly built to house many tenants. Within a few years of construction, four of the properties — 1208 Mississippi, 1209 Oread, 1145 Indiana and 1140 Mississippi were used as living quarters for fraternity or sorority groups. The eleven dwellings within the Hancock (12th Street) Historic District reflect the development of Lawrence as a college town and the housing diversity that accompanied such development, as described in the MPDF.
Every house in the Hancock (12th Street) Historic District has housed at least one person associated with the University of Kansas. The proximity between the Hancock (12th Street) Historic District and the school made KU easily accessible to teachers and students. The Jane Snow House at 706 W. 12th Street, currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places, especially reflects the desirability of the neighborhood. Although Mrs. Snow's husband, chancellor Francis H. Snow, died in 1908, she had her home built in this neighborhood within walking distance of academia. May Gardner, a long-time instructor in the Spanish department at KU, lived in her parents' home at 1200 Mississippi in between trips abroad and across the country. She purchased the home in 1939 and continued to live there until 1950. The circa 1908 home at 704 W. 12th Street was built for William H. Johnson, an instructor at KU, and was later home to Frank S. Pinet, longtime instructor, professor and professor emeritus. Several KU instructors shared the duplex at 707-709 W. 12th and the Atkeson family, who lived at 1140 Mississippi in the 1920s, included a student and teacher.
The Hancock (12th Street) Historic District's location was ideal for group living, as well. The earliest example is the one-year occupation by the Achoth Sorority at 1140 Mississippi in 1915. The Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity occupied the large boarding home at 1145 Indiana in 1917, followed by the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity in 1925 and the Triangle Fraternity in 1930. The Delta Upsilon Fraternity was located at 1209 Oread in the 1920s and continued to use the house as an annex into the 1930s. 1208 Mississippi is listed as the Wita Wenton House in the 1923 through 1926 city directories. The development of the Oread Apartments at the prime corner of Oread Avenue and W. 12th Street replaced several small houses with a building that provided convenient housing for KU instructors, office workers and students.
The period of significance — 1907 to 1925 — matches a time of intense building activity on the nearby campus of the University of Kansas. The school grew to become a well-established academic center between 1880 and 1900 and several new buildings, now demolished, were constructed during these early years. Between 1902 and 1918, the substantial buildings that provide the mainstay of today's campus were constructed, including the Museum of Natural History (1902), the Engineering Building/Marvin Hall (1908), the Geology and Mining Building/Haworth Hall (1909) and the east wing of Strong Hall (1911). This period of tangible campus growth undoubtedly influenced nearby residential construction.
Architecture and Setting
The Hancock (12th Street) Historic District lies within the Oread Addition, which was platted in 1870. The 20-year development of the Hancock Historic District to its current form occurred gradually, beginning with the circa 1907 Prairie house at 1209 Oread, also the dwelling located closest to the KU campus. Before 1915, nine houses within the district were completed. The final additions were the circa 1922 Oread Apartments at 1201-1205 Oread and the circa 1924 Stockwell House built on an empty lot at 1138 Mississippi. The Hancock (12th Street) Historic District, considered rather distant at the time of its development from Lawrence's business core, first appears on Sanborn maps in 1927.
The Hancock (12th Street) Historic District is located on a very steep hill that slopes upward toward the east. The homes facing Mississippi Street are placed far above the street level, with a public sidewalk located on a level between the house and the street. The houses on West 12th Street are placed on lots that slope downward toward Mississippi. The 1927 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map indicates that West 12th Street connected Oread Avenue with Mississippi Street. At some point, likely due to the steep grade, West Street was made into a cul-de-sac. Limestone walls line the street, create a planter within the median and form a decorative retaining wall facing Mississippi Street. These walls are not present on Sanborn maps. They are typical of designs and construction consistent with the Works Progress Administration program in the 1930s. These walls are considered significant contributing features of the Hancock (12th Street) Historic District.
When the Oread Addition appeared on Sanborn maps until 1927, all of the extant primary buildings of the Hancock Historic District had been constructed. The architectural styles of the district match those of the Oread neighborhood. These styles are described in the MPDF as Shingle, Prairie, Colonial Revival and craftsman.
With the exception of the Oread Apartments, these early 20th-century styles are evenly divided among the dwellings of the Hancock (12th Street) Historic District, although most of the houses display elements from more than one style.
The Colonial Revival style, identified primarily by a symmetrical facade, an accentuated entrance and the decorative use of columns or pilasters, can be seen at 1208 Mississippi, 704 W. 12th and 1138 Mississippi. The two houses on Mississippi feature fairly simple, symmetrical facades. 1138 Mississippi and 704 W. 12th both feature entrances emphasized by porticos and doorways with sidelights. The gambrel roof, dormers and integrated front porch supported by columns places 1208 Mississippi squarely in the Colonial Revival category.
The Hancock (12th Street) Historic District's Prairie houses are located at 1200 Mississippi, 1209 Oread and 1145 Indiana. Distinguished primarily by their wide overhanging eaves, these houses tend to have a more vernacular square profile, rather than a high-style horizontal form. All of these dwellings originally had very large one-story front porches emphasizing the horizontal mass of the Prairie style.
Two of the three Craftsman homes within the Hancock (12th Street) Historic District are somewhat larger than the typical Bungalow. Only 711 W. 12th features a classic Bungalow design, despite the much later addition of a skylight that projects from the ridge of the roofline. The earlier houses at 707 W. 12th and 1140 Mississippi feature wood cladding and exposed rafter tails under the eaves. 707 and 711 W. 12th both have integrated front porches, an element of the style noted in the MPDF; 1140 Mississippi also contains a full front porch.
The Hancock Historic District also includes one Shingle style dwelling at 706 W. 12th. This home with its shingle siding and lack of ornamentation would have appeared rather old fashioned when built in 1910. The choice of this earlier style can be explained by the fact that the first owner, Jane Snow, a widow for two years and not a young woman, may have preferred a home that evoked images of an earlier time. The house is an excellent example of the style.
KU professor William Alexander Griffith designed four of the houses in the Hancock (12th Street) Historic District — 1200 Mississippi, 706 W. 12th, 711 W. 12th and 707-709 W. 12th. Griffith, a native to Lawrence, was a well-known painter of landscapes in the early 1900s. After studying at Washington University in St. Louis and at the Julian Academy in Paris, he taught art at the St. Louis School of Art and Washburn College before returning to Lawrence. He joined the KU faculty as a professor of Art in 1899. As head of the University's Art Department, he also helped design Strong Hall. Griffith's interest in building design led him to recommend that a School of Architecture be established at the University. He began designing houses for friends in the early 1900s, as a sideline to his academic duties. Many of these homes were designed for associates within the University community and were located in neighborhoods close to campus, such as the Hancock Historic District.
The Hancock Historic District retains its integrity in location, setting and architecture. The topography, layout of the streets and stone walls reinforce its significance. All of these elements comply with the requirements set forth in the MPDF, Historic Resources of Douglas County, Lawrence, Kansas. The Hancock (12th Street) Historic District retains its historical mix of owner-occupied and multiple-family housing. The massing and relatively unchanged appearance of several housing types contributes to the district's sense of time and place.
Adams, Virginia, Katie Armitage, Donna Butler, Carol Shankel, and Barbara Watkins. On the Hill. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1983.
Berneking, Carolyn. National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, Snow House, 1996.
Caviness, Paul. "The Lawrence Masonic Temple," unpublished manuscript on file at the Watkins Community Museum of History.
Hyder, Clyde Kenneth. Snow of Kansas. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1953.
Jayhawker Yearbooks. University of Kansas: 1915, 1918, 1920, 1922, 1926, 1927,1933 1939.
Sanborn Map Company, New York, January 1918; January 1927; August 1949.
Wolfenbarger, Dean and Nimz, Dale. National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Documentation Form: Historic Resources of Douglas County, Lawrence, Kansas, 12 September 1997.
† Susan Jezak Ford, Hancock (12th Street) Historic District, nomination document, 2004, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.