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Home arrowNews arrow38 Historic Buildings Saved at Eisenhower VA Medical Center in Leavenworth, Kansas
38 Historic Buildings Saved at Eisenhower VA Medical Center in Leavenworth, Kansas

For more information, contact Bruce Milhans at (202) 606-8513 or

Ward Memorial Building, Leavenworth, Kansas
Ward Memorial Building, Dwight D. Eisenhower Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Leavenworth, Kansas

June 21, 2005, Washington, DC—Thirty-eight historic structures located at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Leavenworth, Kansas, have been saved from demolition through the Federal Government's Section 106 consultation process, and the involvement of local, State, and national individuals and preservation organizations.

"This is an excellent outcome for historic preservation that balances the local community's desire to retain important heritage resources while putting them to productive use, and allows a needed expansion of a cemetery for veterans," said John M. Fowler, Executive Director of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP).

In 1999 the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) planned to destroy buildings contained in the Disabled Volunteer Soldier Historic District, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, to expand an adjacent National Cemetery.

However, through the Section 106 consultation process of the National Historic Preservation Act, which is administered by the ACHP, an alternate solution was reached that both spares the historic buildings while returning them to productive use, and allows expansion of the cemetery elsewhere in the immediate vicinity.

VA will use its Enhanced Use Lease Program to allow a private developer, the Eisenhower Ridge Association, to use the structures for facilities that complement their original and historic roles. The developer proposes to rehabilitate all buildings using the Secretary of the Interior Standards for historic structures, and to apply for the rehabilitation tax credit available for such initiatives.

About nine acres of land in the historic district will be part of the expanded cemetery, but the expansion will not affect the 38 structures that are considered as contributing to the National Register historic district listing. Other adjacent land that is not part of the historic district also will be used for the remaining cemetery expansion.

The outcome represents a victory for Leavenworth and Kansas preservation interests, who in 1985 organized to prevent destruction of the Ward Memorial Building at the medical center. When VA proposed to raze the historic structures to allow cemetery expansion, the Section 106 consultation process was invoked to include interested parties in judging the original plan and seeking alternatives with a more favorable preservation result.

Section 106 requires Federal agencies—in this instance, VA—to consider the effects of their actions on historic properties.

The resulting agreement was signed by representatives of the VA, ACHP, Kansas State Historic Preservation Office, Eisenhower Ridge Association, Kansas Preservation Alliance, Preservation Alliance of Leavenworth, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which had listed the Disabled Volunteer Soldier Historic District in its "America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places 2000" annual list.

The historic district, which sits atop a bluff along the Missouri River, was the 1844 site of the Stockbridge Baptist Mission and an Indian cemetery. What is now the Eisenhower medical center was originally constructed between 1865 and 1930, and formerly was known as the Western Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers.

Church and school bells sounded in Leavenworth, Kansas, and citizens paraded through the streets when news was received in the mid-19th century that the facility for disabled Civil War veterans would be created near their community. The contractor for many of the early structures was James A. McGonigle, a prominent local builder also noted for projects at the 1893 World Columbian Exhibition in Chicago, the Santa Fe Railroad, and the famed Fred Harvey railroad-associated restaurants.

The ACHP, an independent Federal agency, promotes the preservation, enhancement, and productive use of the Nation's historic resources and advises the President and Congress on national historic preservation policy. It also provides a forum for influencing Federal activities, programs, and policies that affect historic properties. In addition, the ACHP has a key role in carrying out the Administration's Preserve America program.

Learn more about the ACHP

Posted June 28, 2005

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