Archive for Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Shawnee Town Farmstead work starts

Museum director Gay Clemenson, center, laughs as city officials break ground for Shawnee Town's farmstead.

Museum director Gay Clemenson, center, laughs as city officials break ground for Shawnee Town's farmstead.

October 6, 2010

Members of the community gathered Thursday to celebrate the beginning of some big changes at Shawnee Town museum.

With shovels and an antique ground-tilling tool, city officials broke ground for the Shawnee Town Farmstead, which will replicate a 1929 truck farm in Shawnee at the former site of the East Pool. The groundbreaking makes way for the first phase of the farmstead’s creation: relocating the Hart House, Bender Barn and Smokehouse from the current “town” area to the farm.

Before the groundbreaking, Carol Gonzales, city manager, said Shawnee Town was a true example of community involvement, from its beginnings in 1965, when a group of citizens rallied to save a historic building and eventually created the museum, to the current expansion.

She said that when the city was doing surveys as a part of its branding campaign, one comment made was, “In Shawnee, they get together and get things done.”

“And that getting together and getting things done is one of the things we do absolutely the best in Shawnee,” she said. “The story of Shawnee Town exemplifies that getting together and getting things done as much as anything we’ve ever done in Shawnee.”

In 2004, Shawnee created a 10-year strategic plan to shift the museum’s focus to 1929. But much of the planning so far has been behind the scenes, with research and changes to programming. The creation of the farmstead will be one of the first big physical changes to the town.

Thursday’s event was attended by special guests including former Shawnee mayors Tony Soetaert and Jim Allen and the wife of Albert DeCaeney, who grew up in the Hart House. A group visiting from Shawnee’s Belgian Sister City, Pittem, also attended, fitting because many of the truck farmers in Shawnee were Belgian immigrants.

Neil Holman, parks and recreation director, thanked the Deffenbaugh Foundation for helping Shawnee Town with a $500,000 donation to the museum. He explained how the farmstead soon would include more outbuildings, such as a market shed and chicken coop, and said changes would be under way in the “town” area as well, with future additions such as Dr. Sullivan’s House and the Yotz Typewriter Shop.

“Today’s groundbreaking shows yet another way that Shawnee Town is committed to helping visitors understand how the past enriches our lives today,” Holman said. “It will continue to do that by helping visitors experience a typical day in the farming community in Shawnee in the 1920s.”

This first phase of creating the Farmstead will cost $469,417, with completion anticipated by the end of the year. Funding for the project will come from the parks portion of the city’s Parks and Pipes sales tax revenues and the Deffenbaugh Foundation donation.

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