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Landmark commission denies historic zoning for second Radkey home

Monday, December 7, 2020 by Elizabeth Pagano

The city’s Historic Landmark Commission seemed content to abide by a rule of thumb that dictates “one historic home per person” at its most recent meeting.

Oliver Radkey, a UT professor of Russian history known for his writings on Bolshevism and the Russian Revolution, lived at 1208 W. 22nd St. until at least 1959. He then moved across the street to 1305 W. 22nd, where he lived until his death in 2000. That house was subsequently purchased by Tim and Karrie League and designated a historic landmark in 2007 as the Goff-Radkey House.

City preservation staff recommended historic zoning for 1208 W. 22nd St., given the fact that Radkey’s early historic work was completed at the address, though they did acknowledge the second, landmarked home.

But Jim Cousar, the attorney for the home’s owner, Ingrid Radkey, told the commission that although the home had been in the Radkey family since the late 1930s, they did not think it merited historic landmarking.

“It’s a very ordinary 1920s bungalow. … If you went to UT since the 1960s, you’ve probably been in dozens of West Campus bungalows that were more distinctive,” said Cousar, adding that the house was currently in terrible condition due to a long-term tenant.

“Professor Radkey is already commemorated by a genuinely distinctive house across the street, where he lived twice as long as this property,” continued Cousar. “We think that naming an inferior structure as a landmark based on his time there would not really honor him. It would probably dilute the historic significance of the Goff-Radkey House across the street.”

Cousar said there was no opposition from the two neighborhood associations and assured commissioners that the existing trees on the lot would be preserved.

Barnaby Evans, an architect who was hired by Ingrid Radkey to evaluate a potential renovation of the house, testified that it would cost about $240,000 to restore it. “You wouldn’t wind up with good value there,” Evans said.

Historic Landmark commissioners voted unanimously to approve the demolition.

“I think our general manner of business is to have one property associated with a person,” Chair Terri Myers said. “I hate to see the house go. When people talk about densification and affordable housing – we on the commission see more affordable housing going away than anyone, I think. And I’m sorry for that.”

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