Leawood family donates 1911 home to Shawnee Town 1929

Leah Wankum - July 15, 2019 11:55 am
Stu Sharp is donating his 1911 family home in Leawood to Shawnee Town 1929. Photo courtesy of city of Shawnee

The city of Shawnee is growing Shawnee Town 1929 in the coming years, with the addition of a few “new” century-old buildings and a storm sewer system underneath a portion of the outdoor museum and downtown area designed to mimic the city’s early 20th century society.

One of the newest additions coming to Shawnee Town is an old house built in 1911 in what is now Leawood. The owner of the house, Stu Sharp, is donating it to Shawnee Town to the city for free.

Shawnee must then cover costs, currently estimated from $95,000 to $125,000, to move the house and install it in Shawnee Town.

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Shawnee city staff budgeted $480,000 for two projects in Shawnee Town: First, to build a replica house in the outdoor museum, and second, to build out a sewer system under a portion of the outdoor museum.

Neil Holman, Shawnee parks and recreation director, said that after the Sharp family expressed interest in donating their house, he and his staff researched their options and found that it would be a cheaper, better opportunity to maintain local architecture instead of building a replica house. The city had initially budgeted $250,000 to build a replica house.

“It’s exactly what would be on the town square in the 1920s,” Holman said, noting that nearly everything about the house is original to when it was first built. “The history fabric of that house has not been touched. There was an added-on porch on the back, but that’s it. The kitchen, the hardwood floors, everything is original.”

The house is tucked behind a grove of trees near the southwest corner of West 135th Street and Mission Road — just one cornfield away from some of the newer developments in the area such as Prairiefire. Holman said the Sharp house has been in that family for multiple generations.

Moving the house requires taking the roof off and building a foundation and crawlspace under the house, Holman added.

The house serves to mimic the house of Dr. Sullivan, a doctor from the early days of Shawnee. Charlie Pautler, the museum director, said that not much is known about Dr. Sullivan’s house, but his family had moved into it in the 1930s.

“One of the main reasons we’re interested in having an original house here is because it’s nice to save an important piece of early architecture in Johnson County,” Pautler said. “The replications we’ve done are really high quality, but this will be an original building, and that’s really nice for an outdoor, open air museum to have.”

Holman noted that other buildings in Shawnee Town come from areas outside of Shawnee, such as Olathe, but all of them exemplify historical architecture from the region.

The Shawnee council on July 8 voted 6-2 to approve the 2020 budget, which included the house and storm sewer projects as part of the parks and recreation department’s budget.

Holman said the house is the first of a handful of other building projects coming to Shawnee Town. Other future projects in the next few years include State Bank, the electric store, dry goods store, drugstore and soda fountain, to name a few.

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