“It was slower going in Kansas City because when you have a hurricane or natural disaster, neighbors will want to meet and do something,” Knoll said. “In this case, when there is a much slower disaster, it’s harder to rally people around a cause. They didn’t believe we would follow through.”
But Historic Green did. To date, the organization has worked on eight major projects, including the Tracy house renovation, and plans to do more. Projects include:
- Benton Community Garden: transformed an overgrown, abandoned property into a garden; installed a 2,500-gallon rainwater cistern, planted native plants and a rain garden, installed low-carbon concrete walkways, installed education signage and created shade structures from reclaimed telephone poles. Raised vegetable beds were installed for ADA access.
- Manheim Park Housewarmings Program: partnered with U.S. Green Building Council, Bridging the Gap and YouthBuild to provide home renovation services that included hot water recirculation systems, air sealing and window/door weather-stripping, wall insulation, installation of ceiling fans, replaced incandescent lights with compact fluorescent lights. Renovations provided a 37.5 percent utility savings.
- Roeland Park Retrofit Program: partnered with the City of Roeland Park and YouthBuild to renovate eight low- and fixed-income homes (five completely and three with basic services and repairs). Renovations included insulation, air sealing, window restoration, lighting replacement, water-use reduction, appliance upgrades, hot water recirculation systems and minor repairs.
- Old Quindaro Museum renovations: replaced siding, added insulation and repaired windows and stairs.
- Hope Center Home renovation: Historic Green is currently working to renovate KC Hope Center’s old pastor’s home into a space for classrooms and intern dormitories. Renovations will include an energy audit, insulation, lead/asbestos removal and lighting upgrades.
- Healthy Rivers Partnership headquarters: working with the Healthy Rivers Partnership to develop a renovation plan for its headquarters.
- Laugh-O-Gram Studio repairs: Historic Green worked with the Thank You Walt Disney, Inc., to provide repairs to Walt Disney’s first animation studio at 31st Street and Forest Avenue. Repairs included fence replacements and repairs, masonry repairs, installation of gutter and downspout, clearing the rear alleyway of brush and debris.
What’s next for Historic Green?
Once the ART house is finished, Historic Green plans on renovating the two houses to the north of 4331 Tracy Ave., which are exact replicas.
“Our goal is to roll our efforts on to the next house and the next house so there’s always an opportunity to actively learn and provide service-learning opportunities in the city,” Knoll said. “So it’s not a one-and-done.”
Most projects usually take 60 to 90 days, Knoll said, but the organization has run into some delays on construction of the back porch on Tracy. Rainy days have also put the construction behind schedule. But Knoll is still optimistic the house will be finished soon. Once the weather cools down a bit, he said the crew will get working on the inside of the house.
Westside Housing will sell the ART house to a family with a lower income once the project is complete.
A schedule of workshops and events can be found on Historic Green’s website.