Awards of Excellence:
Ottawa’s Friends of Historic Buildings

Year(s) Listed:
Location Class:
Built: 1917, 1927 | Year Saved: 2005
Historic Designation: National Register of Historic Places (October 6, 2000)
Contributor: Kansas Preservation Alliance

When the Ottawa Middle School was first condemned in May of 1996, a group of concerned citizens organized themselves in an attempt to prevent demolition of this local landmark.  This group was formally organized as Friends of Historic Buildings in 1997.  They sought legal council and the assistance of the Kansas State Historical Society.  The group listed the property on the National Register of Historic Places and sought assistance from developers and design professionals regarding the condition and potential reuse of the buildings.  Despite multiple votes by the local school board to demolish the buildings over a period spanning eight years, the persistence and commitment of the Friends of Historic Buildings eventually paid off.  The Friends worked with Steve Foutch of Allied Development for more than a year.  In November of 2004, the school board agreed to sell the property to Foutch.  A project is currently underway to rehabilitate the complex into senior and low-income housing, community recreational facilities and meeting space.  The Friends of Historic Buildings remained dedicated through an eight year grassroots advocacy campaign that resulted in saving the Ottawa Middle School complex.

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