THE FORGOTTEN HOUSE: 810 Mechanic, Emporia, Kansas
Damn, damn, damn.
Why am I not a zillionaire?
For, if I were, I would be saving the world’s architectural heritage.
The other day young Brian and Bailey asked me if I wanted to go look at 810 Mechanic in Emporia.
My heart instantly raced, as I had previously identified 810 as a likely design by architect Charles Squires, who designed the Cross House.
The house, today, presents a grim visage. Looking at the house, which has long been divided into two apartments, few people — like, essentially nobody — would look at 810 and see much of value. Indeed, the house is shabby and even ugly.
But, it wasn’t always. And it could be, could, be a knock-out. Restored, people would stop on the sidewalk, then a smile would cross their face, and they would think: What a gorgeous house. But, today, the house attracts no such attention. It is, again, grim.
And this causes me a lot of pain. I itch to get my hands on it, to study it, and to carefully reveal its beauty and restore lost features.
But I cannot afford to do so. And the house will continue to be overlooked. Nobody will walk by and recognize the house as being significant. The house will continue to age, continue to be cheaply patched-up, and then one day will be demolished with nary a thought by anybody.
Damn. Damn damn damn.
When my eyes first sighted 810 they were not…interested. But then two features captured my special attention. And I went: Oh my!
Because the original front door has long been covered over I was apprehensive, to an extreme, about the fate of the entry hall and staircase.
Had they, somehow, managed to survive?
So, what happened to the foyer and staircase of 810 Mechanic?
The foyer is now a full bathroom, closet, and hall.
The lower staircase has been ripped out, although it could have been saved like 510 Union. Damn.
810 Mechanic is in poor condition and is currently for sale at $40,000. It will sell, no doubt, but not to anybody who sees it as a muffled treasure, absolutely deserving of a meticulous restoration. No, the sole motivator will be the rental income. The house will continue to be cheaply patched and patched and patched all the while its true value, as work of great beauty by a significant architect, will continue to remain unknown.
As a house by Charles Squires, 810 could easily be listed on the National Register or the Kansas Register. With either of these designations in place, the house could qualify for a Heritage Trust Fund grant. The Cross House has receive two such grants totaling almost $180,000.
Kansas is the only state I know of offering outright grants to restore historic properties.
My hope in writing this post is that maybe, out there somewhere, is a savior for 810 Mechanic.
The house deserves a glorious resurrection.
And what a glory 810 could be.
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