The Cross House
The 2015 Kansas Heritage Fund grants have just been announced. The Cross House had applied (after six months of work on the application). Then there was 3-1/2 months of waiting for the results.
The Heritage Grant program is funded by a small tax on every mortgage filed in the state. The monies collected are then disbursed to properties either on the National Register of Historic Places, or on the Kansas Register.
Every year, 30-40 applications are received, but due to limitations in funding, only about ten grants are awarded. So, receiving a Heritage Grant is far from a sure thing. One can apply for up to $90,000.
Every state in America should have such a program.
Historic properties are significantly more expensive to restore/maintain than non-historic properties. This is why incredible structures are demolished daily; there is simply not enough funds to restore them, causing a steady erosion of our historic/cultural heritage.
WHY HISTORIC PROPERTIES ARE A GOOD THING
- A historic property which has been beautifully restored normally spurs improvements to adjacent properties, and so on.
- A neighborhood with a historic district designation will enjoy higher property values than non-designated neighborhoods.
- A city rich with historic restored properties will attract significant tourism.
- Who does not love gorgeous old buildings?
There is no way that the grant application (a huge amount of work) would have been completed and submitted (on time!) without the help of Mi’Chielle Cooper. While I give myself a pat on the back for having had the sense to retain a professional, I give Mi’Chielle a huge hug for being so good, thorough, and wonderful to work with.
On Friday (also my birthday), she and I ventured to Topeka to speak on behalf of our application. There were 47 such applications, and this was…intimidating. Particularly as we thought that all the projects should be fully funded. So many historic & cool structures, and all worthy of help. However, the reality is that while there was about $3 million in funding requests, there was less than 1/3 of such funds available.
As I stood up to speak on behalf of the Cross House, and walked toward the podium, I was startled and unnerved by an unexpected rush of emotions. Quite alarmingly, I felt a outpouring of tears wanting to flood my eyes. Geez. This was the LAST thing I needed. Control yourself, man! Control yourself! I knew I could not reach the podium looking like a soggy mess, and willed the emotions (where did they come from?) back underground.
I reached the podium, turned to the audience, and felt relieved that my eyes were dry. I smiled, and somehow managed (as Mi’Chielle later stated) to seem calm & coherent.
Praise the Lord.
RECEIVING THE NEWS IN A QUITE PECULIAR SITUATION
The next day, Saturday, I had to go the Kansas City for business, and also to have lunch with some friends. Mi’Chielle said she would call the minute she knew anything about the announced 2015 funding recipients. It was unknown if this news would be available on Saturday or Monday. The waiting? A G O N Y.
In the late morning I received from Mi’Chielle several texts: no news.
I met with my friends, and we went out to a fast-food restaurant. Just as I reached the front of the line, and as the person behind the counter said Can I help You?, my phone rang. Normally, I would have just ignored it. But not now. Not this day. No way!
“Oh, please excuse me,” I said, then pulled out my phone, glanced at the caller ID, and nervously clicked Accept Call.
I knew other people in line were thinking: What a jerk!
No matter, because my heart had stopped. All the noise in the restaurant seemed to go utterly quiet. Time stood still. The solid ground beneath me was replaced by air; I felt like I was floating.
I also felt an overpowering wave of fear. Nervously, timidly, I asked: “Did we get it?”
Mi’Chielle had good news. Great news. Incredible, stunning, and miraculous news.
My verbal response? “Mi’Chielle? I can’t talk right now. But thanks for the update. Can I call you back in about ten minutes?” I then hung up, and said to the young woman across the counter: “Sorry! I would like a cheeseburger, large fry, and medium soda.”
YES, IT DOES SEEM TO BE TRUE
After receiving my tray of food, and sitting down, I said to my friends: “I am sorry to be so rude, but I just received incredible news, and really really need to make a quick call.”
“Mi’Chielle? Is it true? Did I hear right?”
“Yes!!!!!” came the response/shout.
“Mi’Chielle, if you were here right now I would give you a HUGE kiss!”
The eyes of my friends were wide.
The 2015 recipients of the Kansas Heritage Trust Fund grants, below. Note #10:
|1||Atchison||Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum||$46,080|
|2||Barton||Historic Wolf Hotel||$10,925|
Whitewater Falls Stock Farm
|6||Ellsworth||Holyrood Santa Fe Depot||$26,291|
|7||Franklin||Wellsville Bank Building||$90,000|
|8||Hodgeman||Hodgeman County Courthouse||$90,000|
|9||Lincoln||Sylvan Grove Union Pacific Depot||$41,500|
|11||Marshall||Frankfort Grade School||$90,000|
|14||Trego||Wilcox School – District 29||$34,560|
Yes, #10 is THE Cross House.
My Cross House.
Emporia’s Cross House.
I am still sorta stunned. And thrilled! And deeply grateful.
The grant is vital. I purchased the house knowing that I did not have the funds to fully restore the house, so I crossed my fingers that I could obtain grants, and forged ahead on faith. However, I am old enough, and have been through enough in life, to know that hopes are often dashed. Sometimes even crushed. Hence, my being shell-shocked at this incredible news.
We all complain about Government & Taxes, but this is a government program which does much good. Since 1990, the Heritage Trust has helped historic structures across Kansas. What a wonderful use of tax dollars.
AND THANK YOU!
A vital component of the grant application was attaching letters of support. And, boy, did we get some great letters. I think that, perhaps more than anything, these letters made all the difference, and I extend a huge thanks to:
- Eric & Lesley Gilger, neighbors, and also owners of a Charles Squires-designed home
- Lacie Hamlin, realtor, EK Real Estate
- Steven Hanschu, long-term preservation advocate
- Roger Heineken, Phi Delta Theta Alumnus
- Bill & Deborah Huth, owners of the W.W. Finney House
- Mark McAnarney, City of Emporia Manager
- Jeanine McKenna, President, Emporia Chamber of Commerce & Convention & Visitors Bureau
- Casey Woods, Emporia Main Street Director
Thanks also to Katrina Ringler, grants manager at the Kansas State Historical Society. Katrina was a pleasure to work with.
A most special special thanks to Mi’Chielle Cooper.
The Cross House was eligible for the Heritage Grant because the previous owner of the house, Bob Rodak, did the hard hard work of getting the house on the National Register of Historic Places. After buying the house, I ordered this bronze plaque:
WHAT WILL BE DONE
Heritage funds are specific. They can only be used to help protect the exterior envelope of a historic strucure.
At the Cross House, the grant will:
1) Re-roof the two towers, and all the porches.
2) Reline all the built-in gutters.
3) Restore about 2/3 of the stained-glass windows, and about half of the clear-glass windows. The remaining windows will have to wait for later funding.
4) Replace missing siding on the north and south exterior walls.
5) Replace the entire water-table, and repair sections of the rotted sill.
To do all the work required to fully protect the exterior envelope of the Cross House will require additional funding, but the 2015 Heritage Grant will accomplish a great deal.
I feel deeply grateful.
And I have said it before: I think the Cross House is blessed.