A Great History of the Great Mall of the Great Plains. Part One: The Prehistory of the Great Mall (1987 to 1991)

This is the first in a seven part series on the Great Mall of the Great Plains. 


A black and white aerial view of farmland bisected by a few small roads.

An aerial view of the land the Great Mall of the Great Plains would eventually sit on, 1986. (Source: Johnson County AIMS)

In January of 1987, in a very different Olathe than the one we know and love today, the Olathe-Santa Fe Partnership – a group of local investors led by retiring City Commissioner Larry Huckleberry – announced plans for a retirement community, an executive hotel, offices, and a 700,000 square-foot mall that they wanted to build in an area near Interstate 35. The area was bound on the north by US 56, on the east by K-7, on the south by 151st Street, and on the west by Lone Elm Road. The project was called Southpark, and although plans for the mall would change quite a bit over the next ten years, this appears to have been the first official step in the creation of The Great Mall of the Great Plains.

The Southpark developers had secured about $100 million in financing for the first phase of their project by May, and wanted to break ground in June. However, it seems that waiting for the city to review and approve the plat – coupled with the lack of a sewer line in the area – held the project up. At the time there were some lawsuits between landowners and the city that were delaying the construction of a sewer line, and until those suits could be resolved, the Southpark project could not be approved.

In early 1988, Jordon Perlmutter & Co., a Denver developer (which I will occasionally refer to as JP&Co. for brevity’s sake), agreed to buy 70 acres from the Olathe-Santa Fe Partnership with plans to build a $50 million indoor shopping mall called the Southpark Plaza. The initial plan was for a two-story, 550,000 square-foot mall, and there were hopes of breaking ground in the spring of 1989 and having the mall completed as early as 1990. As far as I could tell, the sewer line situation remained unresolved until a few years later, but it does not seem to have been holding back JP&Co.’s plans in 1988. Within months of announcing their first plan, they announced a revised plan which upgraded the mall to 900,000 square-feet.

The City of Olathe was excited about the potential for the project to bring in new business, feeling it would complement the Olathe Medical Center and the new Holiday Inn very well. On top of that, JP&Co. estimated that the mall would create 1,650 jobs and generate $6.7 million in sales tax plus $1.5 million in property tax annually. Olathe quickly began plans to build an estimated $30 million interchange with an overpass taking 151st St across I-35, which developers felt was crucial to the success of the project. (Olathe would share the cost of the overpass with the Kansas Department of Transportation, I believe.)

Next, probably inspired in part by looming property tax reappraisals, JP&Co. requested that Olathe grant them ten years of property tax abatement, saying that it would be necessary in order to attract anchor stores given Olathe’s population and demographics. The Kansas City Star’s real estate editor, Chris Lester, was not alone in observing that Olathe could not sustain a mall alone. Most of the shoppers the mall would need, he said, lived north and east of Olathe, closer to Oak Park Mall and Metcalf South Shopping Center. However, he might have been alone when he wisely noted, “Miscalculations about the pace of future growth have hindered Independence Center and Metro North Shopping Center, two malls at the outer fringes of the metropolitan area where vacancies remained high and sales volume low for years after completion.” I mean, he probably wasn’t completely alone, but maybe he wasn’t the most popular fellow in the room.

In June, Olathe granted JP&Co. a seven-year, $11 million dollar property tax abatement. There was some grumbling in opinion columns, such as Michael Grimaldi noting in the Star that, “if the Olathe market is such that it will support a mall, then a developer should recognize the profit potential and build one without tax abatements.” But many also noted that tax incentives certainly weren’t unheard of, and since they enabled Olathe to get their mall and start winning back sales tax dollars from other municipalities, the strategy made good sense.

Then the economy dipped a bit. The Federal Reserve’s battle against inflation tightened monetary policy, and the Tax Reform Act of 1986 eliminated several tax shelters for real estate investments, causing many investors to sell their assets, thereby lowering real estate prices across the country. News about the mall became very scarce until a full year later in June of 1989 when it was reported that the Olathe-Santa Fe Partnership’s sale of 71 acres of land to JP&Co. was complete.

The plan was now for a 950,000 square-foot mall, presumably still two-stories. In October Jay Perlmutter, a partner with the company, told the Star that they were focusing on securing tenants, and that once that was settled, construction would take about 2.5 years, meaning the mall would open by late 1992. But the economy didn’t improve for another couple of years, and plans for the Southpark Plaza seem to have petered out.


Thank you for reading this history of the Great Mall of the Great Plains. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed researching and writing it. I would like to thank all of the journalists at the Kansas City Star, the Kansas City Business Journal, and The Olathe News whose hard work I drew from. I would also like to thank everybody who provided pictures and/or anecdotes. Special thanks to Bryan for research tips and spending countless hours walking malls with me. And finally, thank you to all of the people who made the mall possible, and everybody who worked and shopped there and made it what it was during its all-too-short existence. If you have any memories about the mall you would like to share, please leave us a comment, or shoot me an email at kellerm@jocolibrary.org. Also, if you have any pictures of the mall you’d like to share, please send them my way!

-Mike Keller, Johnson County Library

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Johnson County’s “Horse and Buggy” Doctors

Johnson County is fortunate today to be home to many outstanding hospitals, clinics, doctor’s offices, and other medical facilities. But this was not always the case. In thinking about how much health has been in the news with the COVID-19 pandemic, this three-part blog will explore the history of healthcare in Johnson County.

Several trained medical doctors called Johnson County home from the time of its creation during the Kansas Territorial era. Many did not have an office as we expect today—instead, they traveled by buggy or wagon making house calls. Most illnesses and injuries were treated at home since traveling to hospitals in Kansas City was impractical and could take hours over poor roads. House calls were not quick either, as the doctor would have to be fetched. True medical emergencies and life-threatening injuries often resulted in permanent loss or even death in the 19th century. Despite working alone and at the speed of their best horse, “horse and buggy” doctors, as they were known, saved countless lives. They increased the quality of life for Johnson Countians and were important members of society in the rural county.

Dr. Tiberius Gracchus Jones, a horse and buggy doctor in Tennessee, and father-in-law to Kansas’ infamous Dr. John R. “Doc” Brinkley, in 1898. Courtesy Kansas Historical Society.

Dr. Tiberius Gracchus Jones, a horse and buggy doctor in Tennessee, and father-in-law to Kansas’ infamous Dr. John R. “Doc” Brinkley, in 1898. Courtesy Kansas Historical Society.

Medical bag belonging to Dr. S.C. Parker, of Monticello, c. 1895. Johnson County Museum collection.

Medical bag belonging to Dr. S.C. Parker, of Monticello, c. 1895. Johnson County Museum collection.

The earliest trained physician recorded living in the area was Dr. Johnston Lykins, and although he came in the 1830s as a Baptist missionary to the Shawnee, he did help administer smallpox vaccines. Dr. John T. Barton, who was surgeon for the Shawnee Indians after 1850, was perhaps the first medical professional to start a practice in Johnson County. The 1874 Atlas Map of Johnson County, Kansas, a booklet with maps, a history of the county, and biographies of important residents, described Dr. Barton as “a man of fine personal appearance, an accomplished physician, with a clear head and good judgment, and altogether was a person who would attain more than ordinary local importance in any community.” By 1858, there were four doctors listed in the county, and the 1874 Atlas Map listed a half dozen or more, including a dentist, Dr. A. Doud, who lived at Cedar and Walnut Streets in Olathe.

Olathe residence of dentist, Dr. Doud. 1874 Atlas Map of Johnson County, Kansas, Johnson County Museum collection.

Olathe residence of dentist, Dr. Doud. 1874 Atlas Map of Johnson County, Kansas. Johnson County Museum collection, available on JoCoHistory.org.

Because of their education and prominence in society, doctors were often involved in government and leadership. Dr. W.M. Shean arrived in the Gardner area in 1857 and served in the Kansas legislature in 1861, as did Olathe’s Dr. R.E. Stevenson, who served in 1868. Dr. O.S. Laws settled near McCamish in 1856 and in 1864 became the County Superintendent of Public Instruction. Dr. Barton helped found the city of Olathe and served as county treasurer in 1858.

Dr. Simeon B. Bell was a strong abolitionist who attracted the ire of the roving bands of pro-slavery guerillas during the late 1850s. In fact, his home was robbed at least twice, his house and store were burned, he was beaten severely and threatened to be hanged, he was forced to attend to injured members of Quantrill’s band, and had to flee the “Cassidy gang” who had set out to murder him! He later moved to Rosedale in Wyandotte County, Kansas. Courtesy KSGenWebProject.

Dr. Simeon B. Bell was a strong abolitionist who attracted the ire of the roving bands of pro-slavery guerillas during the late 1850s. In fact, his home was robbed at least twice, his house and store were burned, he was beaten severely and threatened to be hanged, he was forced to attend to injured members of Quantrill’s band, and had to flee the “Cassidy gang” who had set out to murder him! He later moved to Rosedale in Wyandotte County, Kansas. Courtesy KSGenWebProject.

Following the turmoil of the Civil War, some doctors in Johnson County opened offices in towns, but many continued making house calls. Dr. Zelas Alexander Harkey was an early settler in Gardner and served as a horse and buggy doctor in the area. His son, Dr. William C. Harkey maintained offices in Gardner after earning his medical degree in 1900 from University Medical College in Kansas City, Kansas. His name is still familiar to many Johnson Countians today.

Dr. Zelas Alexander Harkey, a “horse and buggy” doctor in Gardner. Johnson County Museum collection.

Dr. Zelas Alexander Harkey, a “horse and buggy” doctor in Gardner. Johnson County Museum collection, available on JoCoHistory.org.

Dr. William C. Harkey at his farm near Overland Park, but continued to serve as the community as a doctor until his death in 1935. Johnson County Museum collection.

Dr. William C. Harkey at his farm near Overland Park, but continued to serve as the community as a doctor until his death in 1935. Johnson County Museum collection, available on JoCoHistory.org.

Perhaps the most interesting of the horse and buggy doctors was Dr. Jessie Thomas Orr. She taught in Johnson County schools for three years before saving enough to attend the Woman’s Medical College at Northwestern University in Chicago. Earning her medical degree in 1886, she later returned to Johnson County and set up a house call practice. Dr. Orr was known for her kindness, aptitude, and the ponies that pulled her buggy. When she married in 1906, she made a strict arrangement with her husband to continue serving as a doctor (she was one of just 100 women doctors in Kansas in 1918). Governor George Hodges appointed Dr. Orr to the State Board of Health in 1913, and she was reappointed by Governor Arthur Capper. When Dr. Orr died in 1936, a lengthy obituary made clear how important her services had been for Johnson Countians over the past several decades.

 

Although community doctors continued to serve Johnson Countians in the countryside into the 1950s (Dr. A.S. Reece in Gardner, for example, will be highlighted in part two), with the suburbanization of the northeastern part of the county, demand for regular healthcare service and professional hospitals grew. From riding doctors to community hospitals and later to massive clinics, the history of healthcare in the county reflects the history of community growth.

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For more from Johnson County Museum, check out the new Virtual Museum page: www.jcprd.com/virtualmuseum. The Museum has launched a new collecting initiative around the COVID-19 pandemic and how it is impacting Johnson County and the KC Metro. Submit your thoughts, objects, and photos here: www.jcprd.com/collecting.

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The Two Governors

In the early 20th century, two ambitious men owned businesses across the street from each other in Olathe. George Hartshorn Hodges owned Hodges Lumber Yard and Herbert Spencer Hadley owned the Hadley Milling Company. These two men also served as governors of Kansas and Missouri, respectively.

Black and white gubernatorial portrait of George H. Hodges with his name and the dates 1913 1915 at the bottom of the image

Governor George H. Hodges (Source: Kansas State Historical Society)

Black and white portrait of Herbert S. Hadley

Governor Herbert S. Hadley (Source: St. Louis Post Dispatch)

On February 6, 1866, George Hodges was born in Richland County, Wisconsin. He moved to Olathe with his mother Lydia, father William, and brother Frank, when he was 3 years old.   At 17 his father died so he and Frank felt compelled to care for his mother and sister.  For a few years he worked for others in the lumber business, until he gained the confidence to obtain a loan and open his own lumber yard.  For two years he ran the business on his own until Frank and George eventually joined forces in 1889. Over the years their business grew to 8 hardware stores and 14 lumber yards.

Black and white photo of several people standing with horses and wagons on the street outside a lumberyard.

Customers and staff of Hodges Brothers Lumber Company gathered with their horse-drawn wagons outside the lumberyard at the corner of Kansas and Elm in Olathe. (Source: The Olathe Public Library collection on JoCo History)

George had a successful political career, first serving as city councilman in 1896, then mayor of Olathe, and was elected State Senator in 1904.  In 1912 he was elected by 29 votes the 19th Governor and second Democrat to be elected in the majority Republican state.  He held the office from 1913 – 1915 and oversaw major governmental initiatives such as adoption of women’s suffrage and collaborating with the Missouri Governor on infrastructure improvement. George was not reelected and ended his time in public office with the end of his gubernatorial term in 1915.

John Milton Hadley once a free thinking vegetarian, came to Kansas from Indiana to help start a Vegetarian Utopian society, but when he fell sick he had to consume meat to survive, so his vegetarian belief fell to the wayside.  He moved back to Indiana and taught for a period until Kansas called to him again.  He spent a short time homesteading near Emporia before returning to  Johnson County where he was elected Justice of the Peace for 3 years.  After enlisting in the Union Army in 1861, he returned to the area as a Major and was elected Johnson County Sheriff.  He married Harriet Beach and had 5 children.  However, only two of these children survived to adulthood, Henrietta and Herbert, who was born on February 20, 1872 in Olathe.  Herbert went on to become the 32nd Governor of Missouri.

Hadley’s father purchased the DeSoto Mill in 1880 and ran it until his death in 1909.  Herbert and his sister Henrietta owned the mill until it burned in 1911.  Wanting to continue in the milling business the company purchased the Olathe Mill in a remote part of the city on Elm Street, across the street from the Hodges Lumberyard.

Black and white exterior photograph of Hadley's Mill in De Soto, Kansas. The three story, brick building has a mansard roof. There are several windows visible on each floor of the building. Along the bottom edge of the print train tracks are just visible. One train car is stopped beside the mill. On the side of the car is painted: ""Santa Fe"" ""A.T.S.S.F. 33496."" A man, who is slightly out of focus walks across the yard in front of the mill. Museum Label: ""1984.8.4"" In small white handwriting at the bottom left corner of the print: ""C. W. Mettner"" ""Lawrence, Kans."" In black handwriting across the bottom edge of the print: ""HADLEM'S MILL, DE SOTO, KANS."" ""BURNED MARCH 22, 1911""

Black and white exterior photograph of Hadley’s Mill in De Soto, Kansas. (Source: Johnson County Museum collection on JoCo History)

Herbert Hadley earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Kansas and his law degree from Northwestern University.  He practiced law in Kansas City, Missouri, as a prosecuting attorney. He gained a reputation after a successful case against the Standard Oil Company.  This success helped win his gubernatorial election as a Republican in a majority Democratic state.  He held the office from 1909-1913. Herbert’s legacy as governor involved passing of a railroad passenger rate discrimination law, reforms to penal laws, and the creation of several environmental protection boards. Herbert also retired from public life at the end of his gubernatorial term, returning to his legal practice in 1913.

Herbert Hadley retired from pubic office the day fellow Olathe businessman George Hodges became Governor of Kansas.

-Terri Bostic, Johnson County Library

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Introducing the Virtual Museum

What makes a museum? This is something our staff has been thinking about a lot lately. An institution that is valuable to a community. A place that cares for a community’s collection of artifacts, photographs, and documents. A place where the public can come and learn something new—about their community, about their history, about themselves. A place where truth can be found, with sources to back up the text you read, and objects to back up the stories you hear. For the best museums out there, a place where nostalgia and memory combine with history and objects to tell a story that speaks to the visitor, deep inside.

 

How can we be a museum when the most important part of each of those statements is missing—the visitor, the public, the community? The Johnson County Museum closed to the public beginning Monday, March 16. The Savages and Princesses traveling exhibit has been deinstalled, packed up, and shipped out to its next location in Spokane, Washington. The temporary gallery sits empty for now. The screen that hosts our digital exhibit, Women and the Vote, sits dark in the  Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center Commons. Our programs for kids and adults have been canceled or postponed. How can we define a museum when people cannot come to the museum?

#StayHomeKC encourages you to stay home, social distance, and stay healthy.

#StayHomeKC encourages you to stay home, social distance, and stay healthy.

The answer is we redefine ourselves! You have seen other museums, zoos, and art galleries do that in the past few weeks. When the people cannot come to the museum, we must do our best to take the museum to the people. We are happy to announce that we are working away on new content for our website—a “Virtual Museum.” While we will not have a full exhibit tour posted here—after all, we want you to come and see us again when this has all passed—we are excited about the new features at www.jcprd.com/virtualmuseum.

 

We will have a virtual, clickable tour of the 1954 All-Electric House, the museum’s largest collection item. This house, advertised as the “lazy man’s paradise,” is a blast from the past—peach and green tile bathroom, wood paneling, pink laminate kitchen counters, and cupboards stocked with 1950s dishware, foodstuffs, and accessories. If you have not visited or visited many times, you will get a kick out of this tour. Additionally, we will be presenting short overview videos of the main sections of the permanent exhibit, Becoming Johnson County. These will cover the main eras and themes in our exhibit, and leave you wanting to know more. Plus, check out our social media accounts for some quick “Behind-the-Scenes” collection tours, “Ask the Staff” moments, and “Staff Faves.”

The 1954 All-Electric House is located inside the Johnson County Museum. A new clickable virtual tour is available online. Image courtesy Bob Greenspan Photography.

The 1954 All-Electric House is located inside the Johnson County Museum. A new clickable virtual tour is available online. Image courtesy Bob Greenspan Photography.

We are also thrilled to be able to present the Women and the Vote digital exhibit in an online format. This important exhibit marks the Centennial of the 19th Amendment, through which women across the nation finally won the right to vote. The exhibit traces women’s struggle for suffrage (the right to vote) across the country, in Kansas, and women’s electoral history in Johnson County. You can view the exhibit as a PDF and find out more about what the museum is doing this year to mark the occasion at www.jcprd.com/womenandthevote. Learn what other institutions in the KC Metro area are doing by checking www.19at100.org. Know that many great exhibits, programs, and presentations are currently postponed, but will be picking back up after this all passes.

We have put the "Women and the Vote" digital exhibit online. Check it out today!

We have put the “Women and the Vote” digital exhibit online. Check it out today!

Kids won’t feel left out either—we will be posting “home edition” scavenger hunt and History Detective ideas to keep them entertained with just what you have in your home. While we cannot read our “Retro Storytime” stories online for you (it’s a copyright thing), we are happy to provide a link to a great website created by our story time pals at Little Golden Books. The activities they have created will pair with your own Little Golden Book stories at home. Plus, keep up with us on social media and see what our famous green, orange, and white dog chairs are up to while the building is quiet!

 

Lastly, there is always amazing content to be found on our existing websites. Perhaps the greatest Johnson County history website yet the least well-known is www.jocohistory.org. This fully searchable website is the digital repository for not just the museum, but the JoCo Library, JoCo Archives, the Overland Park Historical Society, the Lenexa Historical Society, the Olathe Public Library, and the Kansas School for the Deaf, among others. Created in 2006 with grant funds from IMLS, this site contains over 30,000 digitized photographs from our collection, as well as other great content from our partner institutions. Check out full issues of The Squire magazine, aerial photography from the county’s history, the Atlas Maps of Johnson County (they contain some great history write ups, too), and back issues of the museum’s former newsletter, The ALBUM. Plus, the Johnson County Museum and the Johnson County Library share a blog—the JoCoHistory Blog. Each institution posts once per month. You never know what incredible stories you will read here. The back issues are fully searchable, so there are hours of reading: www.jocohistory.wordpress.com.  Lastly, sit back and enjoy an audio tour of the Lanesfield Historic Site online or while you walk the grounds of the site and read the accompanying interpretive panels: https://jcmuseum.wixsite.com/lanesfield.

The lights may be off at the Johnson County Museum, but the neon of the White Haven Motor Lodge sign always burns bright, day or night!

The lights may be off at the Johnson County Museum, but the neon of the White Haven Motor Lodge sign always burns bright, day or night!

To close, while we miss welcoming you into the Arts & Heritage Center, miss giving you tours of our exhibits, seeing your kids explore KidScape, and attending our programming, know that we are working hard to continue to provide you with great content through our websites and our social media accounts. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@JoCoMuseum and by searching #JoCoMuseum and #JoCoHistory.) Have some thoughts on what you’d like to see us talk about? Send us an email jcmuseum@jocogov.org or send us a message through our social media.

 

In the meantime, stay home, stay healthy, and know that we are looking forward to seeing you in the museum again soon!

 

-Johnson County Museum Staff

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Dividing Lines

Kansas City remains one of the most segregated cities in America, with Troost Avenue serving as a de facto dividing line running north and south through the heart of the city. Journey through the history of social, physical, and economic segregation in Johnson County and Kansas City with the Dividing Lines tour on the VoiceMap app via your smartphone.

Horizontal rectangular black and white copy photograph of school exterior on hill, viewed from slightly below. Three story rectangular brick building with large windows. Several bare trees. Sidewalk at right winds uphill to entrance. Handwritten in bottom margin:"SM - East."

Shawnee Mission East High School (Photo courtesy of the Johnson County Museum Collection on JoCoHistory.org)

Starting at Shawnee Mission East High School, the app will direct you along a route that tells the story of segregation in our community that ends at the Ivanhoe Community Center. The tour is designed so that you can safely drive through the city at your own pace while hearing stories about each area you pass. The 90 minute tour includes insightful context and fascinating interviews from area residents and notable Kansas Citians like activist Mamie Hughes, executive director of the Ivanhoe Community Center Margaret May, author and Kansas City Star columnist Bill Tammeus, and attorney Sidney Willens.

Horizontal rectangular black and white film negative of aerial view of Prairie Village. Area is primarily residential. View looks west. Roe Avenue runs left-right above the center of the image. Mission Road runs left-right along the bottom of the image. Tomahawk Road runs diagonally from the upper left to the bottom edge near the center. 71st Street runs from Mission Road to Roe Avenue to the left of the center of the image. 67th Street runs from Mission Road to the upper right corner of the image. Commercial development on Tomahawk Road near its intersection with Mission Road. Portion of airplane strut visible in top left corner.

Aerial view of Prairie Village looking west. Roe Avenue runs left-right above the center of the image. Mission Road runs left-right along the bottom of the image. Tomahawk Road runs diagonally from the upper left to the bottom edge near the center. 71st Street runs from Mission Road to Roe Avenue to the left of the center of the image. 67th Street runs from Mission Road to the upper right corner of the image. (Photo courtesy of the Johnson County Museum Collection on JoCoHistory.org)

The Dividing Lines tour guides listeners through the history of segregation in the Kansas City metro areas of Johnson County, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri. It primarily discusses segregation through the areas’ real estate and some of its most recognized landmarks. The tour courses through neighborhoods that are considered the crown jewels of the metropolitan area as well as neighborhoods that fell victim to redlining, blockbusting, and white flight. The app tour explains how and why these neighborhoods look the way they do today. It is a complex story that few people know yet continues to unfold and affects our everyday lives.

Color postcard of landscaped area along a street and stone bridge in Mission Hills. The horizontal image has a white border. The view is of a residential area. A portion of a large house is at the extreme left. The street curves near the right of the image. The house is partially obscured by trees. The stone bridge is at the right of the road and is arched over a small waterway. Flowers are in bloom at the right. The postcard was not postally used. The back has a space for the message at the left and the address and stamp at the right. Museum label: "2005.34.2" Black text in upper right corner: "PEMBROKE LANE, MISSION HILLS, KANSAS CITY, MO" Black text in lower right corner: "97996" Vertical text on the back, along left edge: "PUBLISHED BY R. B. HARNESS GREETING CARD CO., KANSAS CITY, MO." Vertical text on the back, at the center: "C. T. AMERICAN ART COLORED" above loco for "C T" "Chicago"

Postcard of Mission Hills (Photo courtesy of the Johnson County Museum collection on JoCoHistory.org)

“Dividing Lines” was created as a part of the Johnson County Library’s “Race Project KC.” The Library’s Civic Engagement Committee’s “The Story of Segregation in Kansas City” bus tour and Tanner Colby’s book “Some of My Best Friends are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America” inspired much of the ongoing work of Race Project KC. This tour was made possible by support from Johnson County Library and the Kansas Humanities Council. It was produced by Brainroot Light & Sound, and written by Nathaniel Bozarth (“Wide Ruled”) and Christopher Cook. The tour features music from Hermon Mehari and KC Jazz.

The content of this tour may contain controversial material; such statements are not an expression of library policy.

Get more information and download the app now.

-Johnson County Library staff

 

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Women and the Vote

This year, 2020, is the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote (called “suffrage”). Although hard to believe, the 1920 presidential election was women’s first chance to vote. With a national election occurring during this centennial year, it is worth understanding Kansas women’s suffrage history.

A mural graphic for the "Women and the Vote" digital exhibit at the Johnson County Museum. Original, historic images from Kansas Historical Society and Library of Congress are included.

A mural graphic for the “Women and the Vote” digital exhibit at the Johnson County Museum. Original, historic images from Kansas Historical Society and Library of Congress are included.

After Kansas became a territory in 1854, there were several attempts to craft a constitution. Clarina I.H. Nichols, a suffragist, abolitionist, and journalist who lived in Quindaro (Kansas City, Kansas) petitioned the Wyandotte constitutional convention in 1859 to include women’s suffrage. She was shouted down as too radical, but ultimately she secured the right for women to own property and to vote in school elections. These considerations were included when the Wyandotte Constitution became the state constitution in 1861.

 

In 1867, Kansas took up the issue of women’s suffrage again. Suffrage for black men and white women were up for a state referendum. Susan B. Anthony, one of the national suffrage leaders, visited Olathe and other Kansas towns on a speaking tour ahead of the election. At the time, only white men were able to vote. In the end the referendum failed—nearly twice as many men voted for giving suffrage to black men than to white women, but neither had enough votes to pass (black men would secure the right to vote with the passage of the 15th Amendment in 1870, during Reconstruction following the end of the Civil War).

Two of the national leaders for women's suffrage: Susan B. Anthony, standing, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, c. 1900.

Two of the national leaders for women’s suffrage: Susan B. Anthony, standing, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, c. 1900. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Women in Kansas were more politically active than in other states, perhaps because of their role in the state’s long struggle to achieve state-wide alcohol prohibition in the late 1800s. Once achieved in 1881, the powerful speakers of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and suffragists (referred to as “suffragettes” in the past) were often included in speaker’s circuits across the Midwest, such as the immensely popular Chautauqua Assembly. The Kansas Equal Suffrage Association, founded in 1884, became an influential force in Kansas politics. Women began to hold elected offices beyond school board positions starting in 1887. In that year, an all-woman city council was elected in Syracuse, Kansas, and Susanna Madora Salter of Argonia, Kansas, was elected the first woman mayor in the nation. Despite this, another state equal suffrage amendment was defeated at the polls in 1894.

Delegates from the Kansas Equal Suffrage Association to the national suffrage effort, assembled in Topeka, Kansas, in 1916. This group led the charge to successfully pass women's suffrage in Kansas in 1912. Courtesy Kansas Historical Society.

Delegates from the Kansas Equal Suffrage Association to the national suffrage effort, assembled in Topeka, Kansas, in 1916. This group led the charge to successfully pass women’s suffrage in Kansas in 1912. Courtesy Kansas Historical Society.

The Kansas Woman Suffrage Campaign of 1912 was a massive struggle, but was finally successful in achieving an equal suffrage amendment. Kansas was the eighth state in the union to grant women full suffrage. It would be another eight years before the national women’s suffrage movement would claim victory. Carrie Chapman Catt, president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association with its two million members, finally convinced Congress and President Woodrow Wilson to craft the 19th Amendment in 1919. It was ratified by a majority of states the next year and became law. It granted all women (but in practice mainly white women) the right to vote in all elections. The text was simple but profound: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

 

To learn more about women in elected position in Kansas and Johnson County’s trailblazing women politicians, view the Johnson County Museum’s free digital exhibit, Women and the Vote, on display in the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center Cultural Commons from March 2 through the end of 2020 (JCAHC open 9am-9pm Monday – Friday, and 9am-5pm Saturday). For more information about the broader movement in securing women’s right to vote, see the museum’s past JoCoHistory Blog post, “The 19th Amendment: Empowering Local Women.” Additionally, there is a concerted effort by museums, archives, and other historical institutions throughout the Kansas City Metro region to mark the 19th Amendment Centennial with programming, exhibitions, and special events. For more information, visit [forthcoming website], and search the hashtags #19at100MO and #19at100KS on social media platforms.

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Bricklayer “Indian Jim” Paved the Way for JoCo’s Growth

Johnson County never had a yellow brick road, but red bricks helped to pave the roadway system out of the rut.

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, most roads and streets were either dirt or gravel. Potholes and grooves were common, taking their toll on wagons and vehicles. Muddy roads after rains also hampered farmers and drivers, often adding hours to normal travel times.

Two of the county’s main roads – Kansas City Road in Olathe and Metcalf Avenue in Overland Park – were paved with brick in the mid-1920s. The wizard of all bricklayers was James Garfield Cleveland Brown, a member of the Oneida Indian Nation, who became known as “Indian Jim.”

Black and white photo of Indian Jim with 8 other men standing next to a stack of bricks.

Indian Jim with his support crew of 6 men who carried 5 bricks each with tongs for him to work with. (Photo courtesy of the Lenexa Historical Society Collection on JoCo History)

The paving of Kansas City Road in 1925 was a major project starting in Olathe, running through Lenexa, connecting to downtown Overland Park at 85th Street, now Santa Fe Drive and joining Metcalf Avenue. The bricked road, spanning 21 miles, followed the old Santa Fe Trail route from Olathe to Westport. It has since been paved and replaced by I-35.

The grand opening of Kansas City Road occurred on Sept. 12, 1925. It featured a bricklaying contest between Indian Jim and Frank Hoffman, a bricklayer from El Dorado, Kansas. They competed in laying bricks on a stretch of unfinished road 833 feet long.

Horizontal rectangular black and white halftone image of workmen laying bricks on Santa Fe Trail Drive in downtown Lenexa. The view is taken looking northeast along the street. Brick roadway in foreground with 7 workmen. Long pile of brick along street at left. Wheelbarrow partially visible at extreme left. Commercial buildings and telephone poles in background. Nearest two-story brick building, to the left of center, was the bank.

Workmen laying bricks on Santa Fe Trail Drive in downtown Lenexa. (Photo courtesy of the Johnson County Museum Collection on JoCo History)

According to the Johnson County Democrat newspaper, the bricklayers were positioned back-to-back at the midway point of the unfinished road. They had a support crew of six “tong men,” using metal clamps, who carried and stacked four to five bricks at a time on either side of the ambidextrous bricklayers. Both worked stooped over from a standing position and wore rubber pads to protect their hands.

“He is as limber at the waist as a rubber man. When he raises his arms to a horizonal position he has a ‘wingspread’ of 87.5 inches,” The Democrat described Indian Jim laying bricks, adding that when he was “going good,” the bricklayer could lay 14 tons of brick a day with “no sign of effort or fatigue.”

Indian Jim won the competition by paving slightly more than 416 feet of Kansas City Road with 46,664 bricks (218 tons) in seven hours and 48 minutes in drizzling rain and 60 degrees. He placed 1,755 more bricks than Hoffman. Indian Jim averaged laying almost 100 bricks every minute. That’s more than one brick per second. Each brick weighed eight pounds.

Vertical rectangular black and white photograph of man, left, bent over facing toward left, laying bricks on roadway. He wears hat, short sleeved shirt, pants with cuffs. Workman at right, back to camera, in hat and overalls. Stacked bricks and three women in background, right. Handwritten in top margin: "INDIAN JIM." Handwritten in bottom margin: "YEAR - 1926."

Indian Jim in 1926. (Photo courtesy of the Johnson County Museum Collection on JoCo History)

As part of his contest winnings, Indian Jim received a $200 prize (equivalent to $2,941 in 2019) along with his regular wages of $2 per hour. He was also presented a medal designating him as the Middle Western Champ in bricklaying, but Indian Jim had a broader claim of fame in mind.

“He has made an art of what other men have always regarded as drudging labor,” The Kansas City Star reported in its coverage of the competition. “He believes he is the champion bricklayer of the world and is proud of the fact that when he ‘lays them, they stay laid.’”

The bricklaying competition attracted more than 10,000 people, including U.S. Senator Charles Curtis and Governor Ben Paulen, and featured a parade with 60 floats, scores of decorated cars and a band concert.

The Olathe Mirror newspaper reported 43 ceremonial bricks were laid by various VIPs, including Olathe and state officials along with three county commissioners, to finish Kansas City Road. The last two bricks were laid by Senator Curtis, who would be elected vice president four years later as Herbert Hoover’s running mate, and Governor Paulen. The senator placed a silver brick. The governor added the final gold brick.

Featured speakers at the event told the crowd about the importance of paved roads for economic development of the region. One noted “a trip to Kansas City was now possible in 40 minutes.”

According to the book “Johnson County Kansas: A Pictorial History, 1825-2005,” “a reported 7,500 cars drove over the brick road (the next day) to experience a ‘modern’ roadway.”

In 1927, Indian Jim helped to pave Metcalf Avenue from 79th Street to Louisburg, which later became a part of Highway 69 from Kansas City to Dallas, Texas.

Kansas City-olathe Road: Brick Road That Passed Through Downtown Area Of Lenexa - 6 Brick Workers With Indian Jim, The Noted Bricklayer Of A Numer Of Federal Highways. Black & White photo taken circa 1920s in Lenexa, Kansas.

Six brick workers with Indian Jim. (Photo courtesy of the Lenexa Historical Society Collection on JoCo History)

Aside from his notoriety in Johnson County, Indian Jim was a well-known bricklayer in Baldwin, Liberal, and Goodland, Kansas, and Pampa, Texas. Although other bricklayers challenged his claim, he was never defeated.

By the 1930s, brick paving, the standard of road and street construction since the last 19th century and early 20th century, was replaced by concrete and asphalt.

Indian Jim died on Sept. 20, 1955, in a hospital at Houston. He was 76.

Some remnants of bygone brick roadways do exist beneath existing streets and roads. The bricks occasionally are uncovered by construction work.

According to the Overland Park Historical Society, “the bricks on Metcalf were exposed just recently when the highway was resurfaced. The old asphalt was peeled off and the original bricks were exposed. Many people noticed the bricks north of 75th Street.”

Beth Wright, deputy director of public works for the city of Olathe, says Kansas City Road no longer has brick beneath the asphalt, but some streets do.

“We have some portions of low volume roads which have brick beneath the asphalt surface but those are scattered sections throughout original town Olathe,” Wright said.

Only pockets of bricks are visible on Johnson County roadways. Some crosswalks, including a few along Kansas City Road in Olathe, have been constructed with bricks as part of streets. Several traffic islands dividing the county’s roadways also have brick surfaces. The intersection of Santa Fe and Cherry streets in downtown Olathe was built with bricks along with nearby crosswalks.

An “Indian Jim and the Building of the Kansas City Road” marker was completed in 2007 by students in the Olathe North High School 21st Century Program. The marker is located in a small pocket park at the junction of Poplar Street and Kansas City Road.

The rest is history.

-Gerald Hay, Johnson County Government

Originally published in the January-February 2020 issue of the Best Times Magazine.

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The Black Bob Band of the Shawnee

When Missouri became a state in 1821, European Americans spread westward rapidly, onto the territory of Native Americans. In 1825, the federal government negotiated the Treaty of St. Louis, which removed 1,400 Missouri-based Shawnee to lands in Kansas (some Shawnee continued into Oklahoma and eventually into Mexican Texas, and became known as the “Absentee Shawnee”). The Shawnee reservation in Kansas stretched from the Missouri State boundary nearly to modern-day Junction City, and from the Kansas River to about the southern line of Johnson County.

Eastman’s Map, showing reservations in Kansas, c. 1854. Courtesy Kansas Historical Society.

Eastman’s Map, showing reservations in Kansas, c. 1854. Courtesy Kansas Historical Society.

The Shawnee were a people whittled away by American encroachment and Indian Removal policies. They had a history of partial assimilation into European American culture and traded heavily with Americans. Portions of the Shawnee nation agreed with the tactic of assimilation and even with removal, hoping that the U.S. government might finally leave them alone. Other Shawnee disagreed and wanted to retain traditional culture and remain on their ancestral lands. The Kansas reservation brought nearly 2,000 members of these divergent factions of the Shawnee nation together.

With the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, the U.S. government’s new goal was to open Kansas for settlers from the United States. The government mandated the placement of the Native Americans who remained in the new Kansas Territory on individual allotments of land, rather than on large reservations. The government exchanged 1.6 million acres of Shawnee reservation land in Kansas for individual grants of 200 acres for each Shawnee man, woman, and child. Shawnee land holdings were reduced to roughly 200,000 acres, located within 30 miles of the Missouri border. The government permitted the Shawnee to stay on their lands in Kansas only if they accepted individual allotments. Those who did—perhaps 700 or more—were called the “severalty” Shawnee because of their individual land ownership.

Charles Bluejacket, an assimilationist Shawnee leader, owned an extensive property, including an orchard. From the 1874 Atlas Map of Johnson County, Johnson County Museum.

Charles Bluejacket, an assimilationist Shawnee leader, owned an extensive property, including an orchard. From the 1874 Atlas Map of Johnson County, Johnson County Museum.

The “Black Bob Band” of the Shawnee, under the leadership of a chief named Black Bob, vehemently refused to accept individual allotments in 1854. The Black Bob, less than 200 in total, were traditionalists who rejected assimilation, protested the federal government’s policy of Indian Removal, believed in communal land ownership, and were vocal critics of the Shawnee national council. The council was made up of assimilationists who allied themselves with the federal government, rather than traditional leaders and hereditary chiefs. For Black Bob and his followers, accepting the government’s offer of individual land grants signified the forfeiture of their rights as tribal members. The government set aside a tract of land for the Black Bob Band totaling 33,000 acres in southern Johnson County. While the U.S. government recognized the acreage as individual allotments accumulated in one place, the Black Bob Shawnee chose to view it as a single allotment to be used for communal living.

Map showing the 33,000 acres belonging to the Black Bob Band, with a modern street overlay. Map from the 1874 Atlas Map of Johnson County, Johnson County Museum.

Map showing the 33,000 acres belonging to the Black Bob Band, with a modern street overlay. Map from the 1874 Atlas Map of Johnson County, Johnson County Museum.

During the Border War and Civil War, the Black Bob’s land was directly in the path of warring vigilante groups. As a historical sketch in the 1874 Atlas Map of Johnson County relates, the Black Bob “soon began to suffer robbery and losses at the hands of bushwackers [pro-slavery forces], or Kansas thieves, and becoming uneasy—exposed as they were on both sides—left the county in a body and took up their residence in the Indian Territory.” Pro-slavery vigilantes under William Quantrill raided the Black Bob reservation in September 1862. The Black Bob fled to the west and south for protection. When they returned, white squatters had taken possession of portion of the land. Chief Black Bob died during this time, either in 1862 or 1864, but his followers maintained their independence from the rest of the Shawnee nation and the national council.

James Burnett Abbott, one-time Indian Agent to the Shawnee and schemer against the Black Bob Band. Courtesy Kansas Historical Society.

James Burnett Abbott, one-time Indian Agent to the Shawnee and schemer against the Black Bob Band. Courtesy Kansas Historical Society.

To make matters worse, James B. Abbott, an ex-Indian Agent to the Shawnees, and H.L. Taylor, his successor, contrived a scheme to swindle land from the Black Bob. They began illegally selling land to squatters. In 1866, they applied for the partition of the Black Bob’s common property and requested individual allotments for 69 members of the band. The Black Bob, who had no knowledge of such an application in their name, cried foul, asserting that no one could speak for their Band. Their anger was pointed at untrustworthy federal officials and the national council of the Shawnee. The legal issue of land title became so complicated and so expensive to fight, in the end it was too much for the Black Bob to overcome. In the 1870s, after many years of struggling to have their Kansas land titles recognized, the Black Bob Band was finally subjected to government removal (although they did not accept U.S. citizenship). They joined other Shawnee in Indian Territory (Oklahoma) on a joint Shawnee-Cherokee reservation.

Google Street View of Black Bob Park, in southern Johnson County.

Google Street View of Black Bob Park, in southern Johnson County.

Today, the only reminders of this contentious history in Johnson County are places named for Chief Black Bob and his followers: Black Bob Road, Black Bob Park, and Black Bob Elementary School in Olathe. So often, people talk about “the Shawnee” as a single unit; in reality, the Shawnee were a people intensely divided by the complex issues of assimilation, removal, intra-tribal politics, and maintaining traditional practices and beliefs. The history of Chief Black Bob and his followers reminds us that when talking about the past, just as today, generalizations always leave someone out. In the case of the Black Bob Band of the Shawnee, by generalizing we risk losing voices of dissent and resistance against the destruction of a culture.

 

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The Lone Beaver of Mill Creek

Once upon a time, the hills, forests, and streams of Johnson County were home to thriving wildlife. Alongside the bison for which Kansas was famous frolicked black bears, gray wolves, prairie chickens, and beavers. Johnson County was particularly prime beaver habitat according to historical accounts, and area creek banks were prime beaver real estate.

A cow lies facing away from the camera in a dense thicket of trees.

A cow lounges in unidentified forest (Photo courtesy of the Olathe Public Library Collection on JoCo History)

By the time white settlers began to settle on the Shawnee people’s land in Johnson County, the number of beavers in the area had declined precipitously. As white settlers pressed farther and farther into Shawnee land, the once plentiful beavers dwindled to just one poor, lonely specimen living in the banks of Mill Creek not too far east of the Monticello Library. Maybe pitying him the lonely life of the last beaver, the Shawnee were said to have agreed to leave him to live out his solitary rodent life in peace. For thirteen years, he did just that.

Color photographic print of a state champion hackberry tree near Mill Creek Streamway Trail west of Shawnee Mission Park dam. The large tree is leafed out. The image does not show the entire tree. A group of people stand on the trail under the tree. A grassy area is in the foreground. Other trees are in the distance.

State champion hackberry tree near Mill Creek Streamway Trail west of Shawnee Mission Park dam (Photo courtesy of Johnson County Museum collection on JoCo History)

Unfortunately for our beaver buddy, all good things tend to come to their end. According to the Atlas Map of Johnson County, one fateful night a young Delaware man crept to Mill Creek and killed the last beaver in Johnson County. He triumphantly rode back home with the beaver’s skin in tow. Accounts from 1874 note that the beaver’s “last piece of work” felled a cottonwood tree about a foot and a half in diameter, the stump of which could still be found approximately forty years after it was gnawed.

Beaver hats and coats fell out of fashion as the 20th century dawned, and the beaver population of Kansas has since rebounded with gusto. Beavers can now be found in any waterway that has a year-round water supply, including those of Johnson County. Next time you stroll the trails near Mill Creek, keep an eye out for the renewed beaver population of Johnson County.

~Melissa Horak-Hern, Johnson County Library

Heisler, E. F. and D. M. Smith. (1874). Atlas Map of Johnson County, Kansas. E.F.

Heisler & Co.; Wyandott, KS. Retrieved from https://www.kansasmemory.org/item/223964

K-State Research and Extension. (2018). Extension Wildlife Management: Beaver.

Retrieved from https://www.wildlife.k-state.edu/species/beaver/index.html

Timm, R. M., N. A. Slade, and G. R. Pisani. (n.d.) Mammals of Kansas: Beaver.

Retrieved from

https://kars.ku.edu/media/kufs/libres/Mammals_of_Kansas/list.html#beav

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What’s Happening at JoCoMuseum in 2020?

The end of the year is an opportunity to review last year and think about what is coming in the new one. In 2019, the museum had over 51,000 visitors to our exhibits, and over 3,200 school children enjoyed field trips to the museum and Lanesfield School site. Over 900 adults participated in programming, from special tours to Lunch & Learns to History on Taps. The Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center (JCAHC) won the “Development of Distinction Award” from the Urban Land Institute. In September, the museum hosted a documentary viewing and talk-back with Academy Award Winner, Kevin Willmott. Museum visitors enjoyed The Turbulent Twenties, which won the “Award of Excellence” from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH). Over the summer families loved the bright and colorful Expanding Oz exhibit. The museum unveiled its first bilingual digital exhibit for Hispanic Heritage Month in September and October, called Latinos in the Heartland/Latinos en el Corazón de los Estados Unidos. Late in 2019, the museum opened the traveling temporary exhibit, Savages and Princesses: The Persistence of Native American Stereotypes, as well as Dreaming of a Retro Xmas in the All-Electric House.

Resized_20191112_152412S&P Title jpeg

So, what is in store for 2020 at the Johnson County Museum? Our special exhibit, Dreaming of a Retro Xmas, will close in the All-Electric House on January 11. There is still time to see all 20 aluminum Christmas trees for their 60th anniversary! The Savages and Princesses exhibit continues through March 14. This exhibit of Native American activist artwork gives visitors a chance to reflect on the ways in which popular culture portray Native Americans, and what stereotypes of indigenous cultures we might carry with us, unknown (see our past blog post). On February 17, the Museum will host a panel discussion called “Distorted Images: Indians in Popular Culture.” Native American artists, curators, and activists will take part in a discussion of the themes of the exhibit as well as modern day realities for indigenous communities.

mccobb

We shift gears in April with the opening of our next exhibit made in-house, Paul McCobb: America’s Designer. Although you may not know his name today, Paul McCobb was one of the most well-known designers of the 1950s and ‘60s. And chances are, your parents or grandparents owned a piece of furniture by this influential furniture and interior designer. Simple, linear, modular before IKEA made it cool, and available for middle-class families to purchase at various department stores, McCobb’s work had a profound impact on mid-Century design in America. Our groundbreaking exhibit will open on April 4, and the collector the museum is working with will present about McCobb on April 9. Other associated programming throughout the spring and summer is going to be “don’t miss” for fans of 1950s fashion and mid-Century design trends!

fig 11 Not Bridgeman LOC num 3b52844u copy

In September, a traveling temporary exhibit about America’s favorite playground, Coney Island, enters the temporary gallery. Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland looks at the novelty of the summer resort and amusement and entertainment mecca. How does Coney Island relate to Kansas? Think summer vacations, escapism and amusement park thrills, and the taboo culture on “the fringe.” Associated programming will include a roller coaster enthusiast and a panel of tattoo artists and historians. The museum’s exhibit will be complemented with a collaborative tattoo art installation called INK! in the JCAHC Commons, thanks to the Arts Council of Johnson County and the JCPRD Fine Arts Division. The Museum ends the year with a quilt exhibit, pulled from its own collections of historic and artistic quilts. Our last quilt show was in 2006, and the museum has had many additions to the collection since then. Quilts are always a fan-favorite show!

African American students and teachers who walked out of the Walker School, in South Park (Merriam), Kansas, in 1949. Johnson County Museum.

African American students and teachers who walked out of the Walker School, in South Park (Merriam), Kansas, in 1949. Johnson County Museum.

The museum’s free digital exhibits in the JCAHC Commons continue in 2020 as well. In mid-January through the end of February, you’ll find Hidden Histories: The Webb Family on the screen. Most of us are familiar with the Brown v Board of Education case of 1954, but did you know there was a school desegregation lawsuit five years earlier, in South Park (Merriam), Kansas? The Webb family was instrumental in securing educational opportunities for black students in South Park through their lawsuit, Webb v School District No. 90.

 

2020 is the centennial of the 19th Amendment, which secured the right to vote for women. Our digital exhibit, Women and the Vote, will explore who benefited and who was ignored by the 19th Amendment, women’s electoral history in Kansas, and the history of elected women in Johnson County. With associated programming throughout 2020, our exhibit will be complemented with the League of Women Voters of Kansas’ traveling pop-up exhibit in July. Museums, archives, historic sites, and other historical institutions around the Kansas City metro region will have exhibits and programs on the centennial theme, so keep an eye out!

 

The two adult program series, Lunch & Learn and History on Tap, will continue each month in 2020. The museum is pleased to offer some special programming this year as well, including “A Conversation with Sonia Warshawski,” on January 27. The star of Big Sonia documentary will discuss her life in Johnson County with journalist Lili Shank. In June, the museum will host Dr. Sofia Khan, the director of the KC Refugee Project, to talk about refugee policy and populations in the Kansas City area, ahead of World Refugee Day on June 20.

Culture After Dark will take place the second Thursday of each month in the JCAHC Commons!

Culture After Dark will take place the second Thursday of each month in the JCAHC Commons!

The museum joins the JCAHC this year to start a new series of monthly events called “Culture After Dark,” taking place on the second Thursday evening of each month. Activating the whole building with food trucks, a cocktail bar, bands, museum programming, and art, music, theater, or dance classes, there is a new cool place to come and hang out in 2020. And for the kids? The museum’s summer camps are being planned for all ages, as are new dates for “Escape the Museum: Scout Edition.” Plus, check out our “Scandal in the Schoolhouse” Escape Room at Lanesfield School Historic Site, near Edgerton, Kansas, available by reservation all year long for all ages!

 

To make reservations for the Escape Room at the Lanesfield School Historic Site, call (913) 715-2570.

To make reservations for the Escape Room at the Lanesfield School Historic Site, call (913) 715-2570.

If you aren’t a museum member you can still enjoy all the amazing programming and exhibitions the Johnson County Museum will offer in 2020. But you will pay more for it. Consider purchasing a membership for yourself or friends and family. And if you purchase before January 1, 2020, you can enjoy a year of membership at the 2019 rates. Check out www.jocomuseum.org for more information about rate increase in 2020.

 

There is so much happening at the Johnson County Museum in 2020. You can keep up to date by checking our Facebook events page, our social media feeds (Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook), and the JCPRD activities catalog (look for the “Heritage and History” category). We at the Johnson County Museum look forward to serving you in this new year, and we look forward to another year of promoting, preserving, and exhibiting #JoCoHistory!

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