July 18, 2013 | Vol. 117 -- No. 13

Cheney Historic Commission OKs Kennedy House roof tile work

The Cheney Historic Preservation Commission gave its approval to repairs of a local home listed on the Cheney Historic Register that was architecturally ahead of its time.

Cheney Historic Preservation Commission
The Kennedy House is a classic example of California ranch style popular in the 1950s and 1960s — but setting trends with its construction in Cheney in 1948.

Pat Kennedy, owner of the home located at 106 Sixth St., asked the commission at its July 11 meeting to grant approval to repairs needed on the home’s tile roof caused by damage from several recent snowstorms. Kennedy asked the commission for permission to proceed with replacing the roof itself, rather than repairing the existing tiles.

What’s unique about Kennedy’s house isn’t that it’s a classic example of a California rancher, a style popular in the 1950s and 1960s. The house was originally included on the Cheney register in 2006 because it’s an example of a California rancher – built in 1948.

“In 1948, this was cutting edge style,” Community Development administrative secretary Sue Beeman said. “At that time, it was a very fashionable, trendy style of house.”

Beeman said Kennedy had a supply of tiles such as the ones currently on the roof, but found that repairing the roof would cost four times as much as replacing it. Department of Interior guidelines, which dictate historic registry policy, require deteriorated historic features to be “repaired rather than replaced,” with new features matching the old design where possible.

Beeman said Cheney’s commission had some leeway when it came to the repairs needed on the Kennedy house because replacing the roof would protect the building structurally. The tiles are similar to those on the roof of the former Interurban rail depot at College and Second streets, but contractors told Kennedy his California rancher was not designed to take such a load.

According to staff documents the replacement material would be similar in appearance to the older design when viewed from the street, but is not intended to “mimic” the older architecture. Kennedy came to the commission to ask if the work was appropriate, Beeman said, and was given the go ahead.

“From a distance, you’d probably see there wasn’t any difference at all,” Beeman added.

The architecture wasn’t the only reason Kennedy’s home was originally included on the registry. Originally known as the Marion Malmoe House, Pat Kennedy’s parents Kenneth and Kathleen purchased the home in 1961.

According to the registry application, Kenneth Kennedy was assistant registrar at Eastern Washington State College, and eventually became registrar, Dean of Admissions and eventually a vice president at EWSC. Both were very active in the Cheney community.

Kenneth Kennedy’s previous military career led him to serving as an intelligence officer for U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall during World War II, eventually going to the China-Burma-India theater where as a lieutenant colonel he was the American officer who accepted the Japanese surrender in Indonesia at war’s end.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

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