LINCOLN (KSNT) – Would you take a free, more than 100-year-old home in the heart of Kansas? For Eddie and Julie Flores, the answer was a resounding yes.
Julie was visiting her childhood hometown and family for New Year’s Eve back in 2021 in Lincoln, Kansas when she heard about the intriguing offer. A home, free for the taking. The only catch: it had to be moved soon or it would be demolished.
The story for this old home in Lincoln County began around 2015 when the Lincoln County Hospital & Health Care Foundation purchased a plot of land to expand the hospital. Occupying that land was a home built in 1910 by a then-prominent member of Lincoln named W. J. Grubbs who started several local businesses shortly after the town’s founding and would even take up the role of mayor at one point, according to Lincoln resident Kelly Gourley.
Gourley, who also sits on the Economic Development Committee in Lincoln, told 27 News that she and a group of concerned citizens banded together when they heard that the old home would be demolished to make way for a hospital expansion project.
“I love old houses, I hate to see them get demolished,” Gourley said. “Even though it looked terrible on the outside. I took it upon myself to really try to do something.”
The group began reaching out for any potential takers of the home but had no success.
“So what happened, in the fall 2021 the hospital foundation said ‘its time to tear down the house, we’re tired of dealing with it,'” said Gourley. “‘We’re tired of trying to find someone to take the house.’ We really started scrambling then.”
A local resident of Lincoln offered the hospital foundation $1,000 to postpone demolition on the home while they continued to look for a potential taker. It was at this point that they received a lucky break: an ad for the home on social media went viral.
“It was picked up by For the Love of Old Houses’ Instagram and that’s when things exploded,” said Gourley. “It just blew up, it was crazy. We were totally unprepared for that. We had hundreds of people saying they’d take the house.”
Sifting through the small mountain of applications, the group of Lincoln residents happened upon one from the Flores family. Gourley said they matched up perfectly with what they were looking for: they would keep the home in Lincoln County, had connections to the community, were willing to raise a family there and had the means to go about restoring the home.
“They’re so excited about the house,” Gourley said. “Eddie and Julie, they’re the right people to make it last the next 100 years.”
27 News spoke with Julie about taking on the seemingly massive undertaking that was picking an old home up and transporting it somewhere new.
“It was free with the stipulation that it had to be moved,” Julie said. “The house sits right across from the hospital. They bought the property and wanted to build a parking lot or clinic there. They were going to tear the house down for the new development.”
The burden was eased by a $30,000 grant that Julie and her husband applied for that would take some of the financial expenses off. That, and the possibility of historic tax credits in the future provided additional incentives for the Olathe family. A lot of work remained though on renovating the interior and exterior before the move.
Julie said they plan to move the house only a couple miles away and have already hired a company to pick it up later this month.
“I didn’t even know that you could move a house,” Julie said. “This company does this all the time. They don’t think it’ll have any problems.”
The decision to take on the project was an easy one for Julie and Eddie. After visiting the house in early 2022 they fell in love with it and dove headfirst into the application process.
“When it went viral in February, we were already interested,” Julie said. “We leapt into the application process. We were very fortunate that we were the family picked to take the house.”
Eddie and Julie, along with their three children Lillian, Drey and Sophia, have been living in a rental home while they work on their future house. Julie set up a blog and an account on Instagram to help keep people updated on their progress.
“We both really like it out here,” said Julie. “There’s just a calm, a quiet out here, we feel a lot safer. We’re both really excited for our kids. There’s absolutely no traffic out here. We do miss some of the modern conveniences but, for the most part, we are really enjoying the small town feel.”
The home is set to be moved on Thursday, Jan. 12.