The South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential 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. [‡]
The South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District is located in the East Lawrence neighborhood of Lawrence, Kansas one block east of the central business district. The South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District encompasses an 11.6 acre area that is nearly square and includes both sides of the 1300-1400 blocks of New Hampshire and Rhode Island streets along with six buildings in the 1200 block (east side) of Rhode Island Street. The alleyways that bound the South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District on the east and west were part of the original townsite plan for the City of Lawrence. The district is bounded on the north by 13th Street and the northern lot line at 1220 Rhode Island Street and is bounded on the south by 14th Street.
The South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District illustrates typical residential land use from the last quarter of the nineteenth century as building patterns in East Lawrence followed local population, social, economic and architectural trends described in the contexts for Lawrence history. The South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District includes forty-nine residential properties, of which thirty-six are contributing to its historic character. All of the properties are residential, and all but one is a single-family residence. Eleven of the primary dwellings were constructed before 1873; nine were constructed between 1880 and 1895; twenty-six date between 1900 and 1928; one multiple-family duplex dates to 1945; and two buildings were built after the period of significance. In addition to the primary residential buildings, the South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District includes twenty-nine garages, one carriage house, and one barn, of which sixteen contribute to the historic character.
The South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District's cohesive streetscapes create a distinct sense of neighborhood. Both Rhode Island and New Hampshire streets are brick with limestone curbing, although New Hampshire has an asphalt overlay. Pedestrian-friendly sidewalks line both sides as well as both ends of all blocks.
Wide, grass easement strips with mature shade trees separate the streets from the sidewalks, creating a smooth transition between public and private spaces. The sidewalks are a mixture of brick and concrete. The sidewalk of the 1200 block of Rhode Island Street is mostly concrete; the 1300 blocks of Rhode Island and New Hampshire streets are brick, with the exception of concrete patches at 1304 Rhode Island Street and at intermittent locations along New Hampshire Street.
The dwellings are sited to face the street on the narrow lots delineated by the townsite plan. Three residences occupy approximately double lots (1228 Rhode Island Street; 1321 and 1347 New Hampshire Street), and three others are situated on approximately one-and-one-half lots (1238 Rhode Island Street; 1327 and 1333 New Hampshire Street). The extra lot size is typical of older neighborhoods where residents occasionally purchased an extra lot or a divided lot with neighbors to provide side yards for gardens or green space. Although setbacks vary minimally, houses are typically situated near the center of their lots, which enhances the cohesiveness and rhythm of the district. Many houses have front walks leading from the street to the front porch or stoop, some of which are brick, others are concrete or limestone.
Architectural Styles and Property Types
The residential designs that comprise the South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District include a variety of vernacular building forms and architectural styles that reflect the roughly eighty-year continuum of new construction. While the houses in the South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District reflect the evolution of architectural styles, the relationship between them based on their location, streetscape, building materials, workmanship, mass, and scale results in a district with a strong feeling of neighborhood identity.
The majority of the contributing houses are two stories in height and have wood frame construction. Other buildings in the South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District are one or one-and-one-half stories in height, and there are several examples of stone or brick masonry construction. The contributing buildings retain architectural features and physical forms that reflect the design trends popular during their period of construction. Architectural ornament includes Italianate and Late Victorian jigsawn porch elements and/or cornice brackets, Neoclassical porch columns, and Craftsman period knee braces and battered porch piers. These elements are found on high style buildings as well as vernacular building forms, such as the Gable-Front National Folk House or the Bungalow.
The types of alterations made to historic buildings vary. Most buildings retain their original windows, although they now have metal storm windows. Some porch details have been lost, although the majority of properties retain their distinctive porch elements. In general, additions are complementary and are placed to the side or rear of the original building.
Non-contributing buildings constitute less than 27 percent of the South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District. However, it is important to draw attention to them because many non-contributing buildings were deemed so because of asbestos or vinyl siding. If the siding were removed from these buildings, only a few would remain non-contributing to the district. In most cases, the siding neither interferes with nor compromises the district's strong sense of visual integrity from the street. Examples of residences with siding include 1301 and 1346 New Hampshire Street and 1301 and 1300 Rhode Island Street. These houses, in particular, would be considered contributing if the siding were removed.
Other non-historic alterations in the South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District include inappropriate window replacements, such as the installation of plate glass picture windows, and the removal of porches. Both of these changes are evident at 1321 New Hampshire Street. Inappropriate additions have been constructed at 1327 Rhode Island Street.
The South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Street Historic Residential District is significant for its association with the history of Lawrence, Kansas. Located within the original townsite plan, at the south end of the East Lawrence neighborhood, the houses in the South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District date to defined contextual periods of community planning and development: the City-Building Period, 1864-1873; the Agricultural and Manufacturing Period, 1874-1899; and the Quiet University Town Period, 1900-1945. Residential housing development represents a direct response to changes in the community's population, social, economic, and architectural trends during these periods as the district grew to meet these changing needs and demands. The architecture in the South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District also reflects the architectural styles and vernacular property types described in the MPDF, including Late Victorian Houses; National Folk Residences; "Comfortable" Houses; and Twentieth Century Revival and American Movement Houses. The variety of architecture found within the South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District is typical of central town residential areas where construction occurred in a scattered approach over extended periods in a community's history. The district includes fifty-two contributing resources, twenty-eight non-contributing properties, one building under construction, and one vacant lot. Its period of significance begins with the construction of the earliest extant buildings, circa 1873, and continues to 1945, the date of construction of the last contributing property.
District Development History
The South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District is located in the southern area of the original townsite plat in the East Lawrence neighborhood just south of South Park and one block east of the Lawrence Central Business District.
Settlement Period, 1854-1863
The original townsite plat included a public grazing and green space in the East Lawrence area bounded by 11th, Rhode Island, 13th and Kentucky streets. However, in 1855 a strip of land ringing the perimeter of the green space was subdivided into building lots and sold.
As a result of the lot sales, the 1200 block of Rhode Island Street, which would have overlooked the park to the west when platted, instead overlooks property owned by the Lutheran Church. It does not appear that any extant houses in the South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District date to this period of development.
City Building Period, 1864-1873
City-wide population growth marked the City Building period and reflected an influx of immigrant Germans, Irish, and Scandinavians, as well as free African-Americans. Both German and African-American families lived in the South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District. About 20 percent of the district's housing dates to between 1864 and 1873, reflecting the large population increase and prosperity that residents experienced. The 1869 Bird's Eye View of Lawrence shows ten buildings or structures standing in the South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District, several of which were houses. The eleven extant houses built c.1873 are on New Hampshire Street and in the 1200 block of Rhode Island Street.
South Park played an important role in the early history of the South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District. On the northwest side of the park, the school district erected Quincy School for neighborhood students in 1867. The park also provided a buffer to the commercial area along Massachusetts Street, and separated the South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District from the main part of town. This helped maintain a rural feel to south Rhode Island and New Hampshire streets for many years. During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the park was the site of band concerts, baseball games, and public speeches. Land around the park had a slightly higher tax rate, which indicates its value as a community amenity. At the same time, taxes on vacant land in East Lawrence were generally lower than in West Lawrence, which made East Lawrence attractive to working- and middle-class home buyers and investors. This combination of factors helped East Lawrence develop as a neighborhood of residents who came from mixed socioeconomic backgrounds.
The first public transportation, a horse-drawn streetcar, began in Lawrence in 1871. By 1873, the route reached within a block of the East Lawrence neighborhood. The car went south on Massachusetts Street, the commercial center of Lawrence, turned west at 12th Street and proceeded south along Vermont Street by the western half of South Park. It eventually turned west again at 13th Street and then south at Kentucky Street. Residents of the South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District lived only a block or two from the streetcar line.
Massachusetts Street also separated the community into west and east sides of town, which created separate economic and social identities for each. Within the East Lawrence neighborhood the district had its own identity, separated from town by the park, yet situated close to the main thoroughfare.
Agriculture And Manufacturing, Foundations Of Stability. 1874-1899
An economic panic ended the City Building Period for Lawrence in 1873, and the town's population stagnated, growing by only 2,500 residents at the end of the century. Compared to the previous prosperity of the City Building Period, only nine houses were constructed in the South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District over this twenty-five-year period.
The profile of residents in the South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District described in the 1886 Lawrence City Directory is helpful in understanding the neighborhood character. The socioeconomic mix included laborers, merchants, professors, farmers, domestics, factory workers, and students. It was also an integrated neighborhood, home to both black and white families. It was well located, and residents could reach their places of employment either by foot or public transportation, whether at the University, at downtown businesses, or at nearby manufacturing plants.
By 1884, the streetcar system extended down Massachusetts Street to 19th Street, past the district's southern boundary at 14th Street. The extended line brought the streetcar to within a half-block of neighborhood residents who walked to a stop at Massachusetts Street. For the many University of Kansas students and employees living in the neighborhood, the streetcar brought them to the foot of Mount Oread, leaving them with only the steep walk up the "Hill" on 14th Street.
Quiet University Town, 1900-1945
Between the turn of the twentieth century and World War II, Lawrence experienced a period of stabilization of local commercial and industrial growth at a time that the University of Kansas increased in importance to the community. The city continued to grow slowly. Enough people lived in the vicinity of the South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District in 1913 that a small grocery store, called Ewings, opened at 1341 Rhode Island Street, next door to the Ewing family's residence. This was a time in Lawrence's history when small neighborhood businesses proliferated. The grocery was active thru the late 1920s.
In 1917, the South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District, a part of the City's third ward, was home to many workers in skilled trades. As younger, more affluent residents began to move south of 15th Street, East Lawrence became an even more attractive place to live. The school board responded to the increase of school children in the area by building McAlester elementary school in 1915 in the 1400 block of Rhode Island, just south of the district. This school served the South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District's children until it was demolished in 1968.
By 1922, the South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District lay in a densely settled area of the city that was part of a residential zone three blocks wide on either side of Massachusetts Street, roughly between 7th and 19th streets. Compared to other parts of Lawrence, where 50 percent of the lots remained vacant, lots in the district were in high demand. Twenty-eight dwellings were built between 1900 and 1928, essentially completing the construction of the historic housing stock. In 1945, the end of the period of significance, a final duplex was constructed within the South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District.
Only recently has new infill construction begun on a remaining empty lot. Convenient to the University, downtown, the park, and schools, the location of the South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District continues to offer its residents a great relationship to the city's amenities.
The South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District includes fifty-two contributing resources dating from circa 1873 to 1945 and twenty-eight non-contributing resources built between 1880 and 1928. The district also includes one vacant lot and one lot on which a building is currently under construction (between 1301 and 1311 Rhode Island Street). The buildings in the South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District reflect the diversity of architectural styles and vernacular property types described in the MPDF. The four architectural subtypes (Late Victorian Residences, National Folk Residences, "Comfortable" Houses, and Twentieth Century Revival and American Movement Houses) illustrate the historic development contexts (Settlement Period (1854-1863), City-Building (1864-1873), Agriculture and Manufacturing, Foundations of Stability (1874-1899), and Quiet University Town (1900-1945)) for the City of Lawrence.
Of the forty-nine primary buildings, forty-two represent variations of the National Folk Residence. These include thirteen Gable-Front and Wing, ten Gable-Front, eight Bungalow, six Foursquare, three Massed Plan and two Pyramidal Square houses. Some of these vernacular houses are adorned with elements of popular architectural styles. Porches commonly feature Victorian-influenced jigsawn brackets or turned posts, Neoclassical columns or battered Craftsman style posts. The remaining seven dwellings include three designed in the Queen Anne style, two houses with Late Victorian styling, and two Craftsman style houses. Two-story, wood-frame construction dominates the South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District and gives it a strong sense of visual integrity.
Thirty-one secondary outbuildings are also found in the district. These include twenty-nine garages, one historic carriage house, and one historic barn. Of these, sixteen were constructed during the period of significance and retain sufficient integrity to be contributing to the character of the property and the district. In the case of the carriage house at 1321 New Hampshire Street, the outbuilding retains greater integrity than the primary building and contributes to the significance of the property even though the integrity of the property as a whole has been diminished to the point that it is non-contributing to the historic district. The historic garages in the South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District were generally constructed using materials similar to the historic cladding of the house, such as clapboards, shingles, or stucco. Many retain their original doors that fold open, while some have modern overhead doors that fill the original garage bay opening. The non- historic garages are of concrete block or wood frame construction with a range of siding, including vertical plywood sheets, asphalt shingles or wide lap siding. Many of the non-historic garages accommodate two vehicles and have overhead doors.
The limestone curbs so important to defining the character of the South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District's streetscapes became a barrier to curb cuts when residents began to own automobiles early in the twentieth century. Because the original neighborhood plan included alleys that provide access to parking areas or garages, there are only five curb cuts within the district that access outbuildings at the rear of a property or parking areas in front of houses. Paved with concrete or overlaid with asphalt, the alleys continue to provide access to small garages, sheds, and parking pads. The alleys at the eastern boundary of the District and between New Hampshire and Rhode Island streets show their parking and utilitarian function.
Michener, Walter, "A Narrative on Public Transportation Lawrence, Kansas," January 1997. Compiled for Lawrence-Douglas County Metropolitan Planning Office (spiral bound report, no paging)
Vertical file, "Transportation-Public," Watkins Museum (Lawrence), 14 (loose pages).
Vertical file, "South Park", Watkins Museum (Lawrence), Karl Gridley, clipping, "South Park," The Tornado, June 6-14,2001, n.p.
Wolfenbarger, Deon. National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Documentation Form "Historic Resources of Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas." Three Gables Preservation, Kansas City, Missouri. 1997.
1886 Lawrence City Directory, (spiral bound notebook, hand-indexed volume), Watkins Museum, Lawrence, Kansas.
1913 Lawrence City Directory, R. L. Polk and Co., Kansas City, Missouri.
1929-30 Lawrence City Directory, J. E. Calnon, Publisher, Lawrence, Kansas.
‡ Cathy Ambler, PhD. and Elizabeth Rosin, South Rhode Island and New Hampshire Streets Historic Residential District, nomination document, 2003, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
12th Street • 13th Street East • Connecticut Street • New Hampshire Street • Rhode Island Street • South Park Street East