More than a quarter century after buying the Mack House north of Shawnee Mission Park, the Johnson County Park & Recreation District is planning to knock it down after determining it would cost too much to renovate.
The district’s board of commissioners voted 7-1 Wednesday night to raze the 1940s-era structure, which has deteriorated over the years and recently became the target of extensive vandalism given its remote location.
Commissioner Michael Pirner, who cast the lone vote against demolition, had hoped to preserve the 5,137-square-foot home, which the county bought along with the surrounding 480 acres for $2 million in the late 1980s. Past plans had considered using the structure for corporate retreats, weddings, museum space or even a place to board riding horses.
However, other commissioners determined the potential cost of renovating the house and bringing it up to modern accessibility standards — at least $1 million — outweighed the potential benefits. Besides work on the house itself, staff said the district would need to build a public access road to the site, estimated at $900,000, and add a water line and some form of permanent staffing or security to protect the building.
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The district has so far allocated only $2.2 million for developing the entire Oakridge Farms property.
Commissioners have considered replacing the house with pavilions that could be reserved for public events and still take advantage of the site’s view of the surrounding property. There was no final decision on those plans or a timetable for the Mack House demolition.
After the meeting, members of the Mack family said they were frustrated by the district’s inability to find a suitable use for the house, which they said is a historic structure that should be preserved.
They said they have frequently offered to help restore the house but have been denied.
Ultimately, they said the original owners, W.W. and Charlotte Mack, wanted to share their home with all of Johnson County but their wishes will go unanswered.
“The Mack family feels that not only were we, but also the taxpayers, misled when it comes to the house,” said Sara Mack Riden, the couple’s granddaughter.