Mount Oread’s eastern slope named to National Historic Register

Posted on Feb 12, 2014 in Campus News and News

Danforth Chapel, eight scholarship halls and the chancellor’s residence were recently added to the National Park Service’s National Register of Historical Places.

Collectively referred to as the University of Kansas East Historic District, the newly recognized zone on the eastern slope of Mount Oread includes 15 buildings and objects related to housing and student life, all dating to the years 1912 to 1963.

As reported in issue No. 2, 2013, of Kansas Alumni magazine, the heart of campus—Jayhawk Boulevard, roughly from the Chi Omega Fountain to the 13th Street entrance, and both the northern and southern slopes—was added to the Register of Historic Kansas Places in February 2013 as the state’s first historic campus district, and the National Register in April 2013. The East Historic District was named to the state register in November before also being named to the National Register in January by the National Park Service.

“I can’t tell you how many alumni have shared with me their fond memories of living in a scholarship hall, or of getting married in Danforth Chapel,” says Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. “These places are central to the lives of so many Jayhawks, and we’re pleased to be able to preserve these buildings and landscape so that current and future students can have similar experiences while at KU.”

Historic designation does not prevent the University from making changes or renovations to protected structures and landscaping, but it does require careful consideration and approval from oversight boards.

“It doesn’t prevent development, but if we do develop it, we do it in a smart and appropriate manner,” University Architect Jim Modig, a’73, told Kansas Alumni in 2013, “and not do something that would be devastating to the character of campus.”

Work toward KU’s historic-district designations began in 2006 with a $130,000 study grant from the Getty Foundation. That led in 2008 to the KU Campus Heritage Plan, which in turn motivated University administrators, the Campus Historic Preservation and Heritage Advisory boards and Historic Mount Oread Friends to pursue state and national designations for the University’s historic districts.

Historic designation also comes with a tangible benefit: Tax credits for costs incurred in preservation work can be sold on the open market for 90 cents on the dollar, generating more income for much-needed restoration and repair.

A map of the historic districts can be found here.

Click here to view the complete National Register nomination form.

—Chris Lazzarino

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