The three-story commercial building at 718 S. Kansas Avenue was constructed in 1910 to house professional offices and a small theater (the Cozy Theatre) into the 1950s. It is a contributing resource to the South Kansas Avenue Commercial Historic District, the National Register historic district nomination Rosin Preservation prepared for the City of Topeka in 2015.
Two days into the new year of 2015, fire engulfed the building that shared a stone party wall to the south. While the fire gutted the three-story building at 720 S. Kansas Avenue, necessitating its demolition, it left 718 S. Kansas Avenue relatively unscathed. However, smoke and soot had infiltrated the building leaving a layer of black dust over most of the interior. Debra and Randy Clayton, who owned the adjacent buildings, saw this as an opportunity. They contracted Rosin Preservation to guide them through the historic tax credit application process for the rehabilitation of 718 S. Kansas Avenue.
Rosin Preservation collaborated with the Claytons and their design team to develop a plan to rehabilitate the former vacant office space into three spacious apartments. The design preserved the historic character of the property while making minor adaptations for modern use. The wide second-floor corridor remained remarkably intact with tall ceilings, wood floors, wood trim and doors, and walls with scored plaster designed to look like tile. Two lightwells carved a large area out of the second-floor floor plate. Rosin Preservation consulted with state and federal reviewers, as well as the owner and design team to negotiate a creative design strategy to incorporate the lightwells into the apartment layouts. To satisfy requirements of the state and federal historic tax credit program, and to create a striking unique feature, new wood windows with obscure glass replaced the small non-historic lightwell windows within the large historic openings. The corridors were fully restored, including the scored plaster in areas with substantial deterioration, the wood doors and wood trim, and the tall plaster ceilings. The historic wood floors hidden beneath non-historic VCT were exposed and restored.
The renovation of 718 S. Kansas Avenue provides a shining example of care and attention to detail undertaken by the owners, architect, and contractor to transform the tired, vacant upper stories of this building into an active participant in the revitalization of downtown Topeka.
718 South Kansas Avenue Topeka, KS