Shawnee seeking bids to move century-old Leawood home to outdoor museum

The city of Shawnee is no longer considering relocating a century-old house owned by the Stu Sharp family, who had planned to donate it to Shawnee Town 1929. City staff said the sole bidder, Patton Structural Solutions, submitted a bid that was $73,300 over the city's budget. File photo courtesy of city of Shawnee.

Shawnee is seeking bids from companies who can relocate a century-old house from Leawood to Shawnee Town 1929, the city’s outdoor museum.

The city council on Monday unanimously agreed to bid the project, but a few councilmembers raised concerns about the cost, which is over budget and estimated at more than half a million dollars. The city is seeking a lump-sum cost for relocation services.

Built in the early 1900s on the southwest corner of 135th Street and Mission Road, the house to be relocated would serve as a replica home of Dr. Sullivan, a physician who lived with his family in a small house in 1920s downtown Shawnee.

Relocation services (which involve moving obstructions such as utility lines, street light poles and trees) are estimated to cost $307,000, although city staff believe these costs can be lowered if the roof of the house is removed first.

The second half of the project, which would be put out for bid at a later date, includes utility connections, restoration, building a new roof and landscaping. This portion of the project is estimated to cost $253,000.

The total cost is $560,000. Shawnee budgeted $480,000 to replicate Dr. Sullivan’s house as part of the city’s 2020-29 capital improvement plan.

Friends of Shawnee Town 1929, a nonprofit supporting the museum, has offered to donate $100,000 for the project, according to city documents. The rest of the project costs would be covered by the city’s special park and recreation fund, which is funded by a portion of the liquor sales tax.

Charlie Pautler, museum director of Shawnee Town 1929, said the house in Leawood has significant historical integrity.

Nonetheless, some councilmembers are concerned about the cost and wanted to know more about their options.

“It’s a lot of money, so I’m hoping these bids will come in reasonable so that we can go with it,” said Councilmember Eric Jenkins, “because I’m quite a fan of old Shawnee Town, and I think it’s a big deal for our community.”

Charlie Pautler, museum director, said bidding the relocation services for the project will give him firmer cost estimates. He believes it will be significantly more expensive to build a new replica home than to relocate the Leawood home.

“If the numbers come in really high, then we’re going to take a fresh look at the project and make sure that we are not going over the budget to make it happen,” Pautler said.

Dr. Sullivan and his family lived in a small house on the northeast corner of the Shawnee square at 302 5th St. (currently Nieman Road), according to city documents. Sullivan also ran his general practice office out of his home where he treated the sick, performed minor surgeries, and delivered babies.

The wood-frame, single-family home in Leawood has had no substantial updates since it was built, and many of its features are original to the house, according to Shawnee city documents. The owner, Stu Sharp, has agreed to donate it to Shawnee Town free of charge. Once on site, the house would have electricity and running water.

“I was blown away by the amount of historical integrity still in this house,” Pautler said, noting that the design is typical of homes found in 1920s Shawnee. “It’s very much a simple house that fits in beautifully with our mission. If I would design a house, not knowing that that one exists, I would design that house because it’s just so perfect for what we’re looking for.”