County museums are places for learning and fun

Staff writer

For those interested in history, Marion County has several interesting sites that will fascinate and teach about times past.

Marion County Museum

The Marion County Museum is housed in the former Baptist Church building built in 1887. It overlooks Central Park and features the history and genealogy of the county.

Curator Cynthia Blount said those who visit the museum will see several firsts including the first piano in Marion County, and a jacket worn by the first baby born in Marion County.

Also on display are several 19th century dresses, toys, wooden washing machines, tools, books, the first telephone switchboard, and lots of photographs.

“It gives the history of the town and the surrounding areas,” Blount said. “It’s nice place to visit and see how things were. For people who like little museums this is the first place to come.”

The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday noon to 2 p.m. May through October. For more information call, (620) 382-9134.

Peabody museums

The Peabody Museum Complex consists of three buildings at the corner of Division St. and Walnut St. near downtown Peabody.

The original museum was the first free library in Kansas, built in 1875 as a gift of appreciation from Santa Fe Railroad Co. director F.H. Peabody, for whom the town was named.

The museum houses early photographs, memorabilia, and historic items from the community.

It is open by appointment.

In the late 1980s, the Peabody Historical Society took possession of the Italianate style home of W.H. Morgan, editor of the Peabody Gazette-Bulletin for many years. It stands south of the Carnegie Library on Walnut St.

The home was renovated and decorated in the style of the period. The original barn that housed the Morgans’ livery and horses still stands behind the house and an ADA accessible outhouse was built in the backyard.

The Morgan House also is open by appointment for tours, Meals with the Morgans, and other group or club events.

In 1995, the historical society took possession of the building south of the Morgan house and established a printing museum. Former Peabody Gazette-Bulletin editor Bill Krause and a friend, Bill Jackson, accepted and repaired dozens of pieces of antiquated printing equipment from former newspaper offices across the state.

Before the job was done, Jackson died and Krause’s health prevented him from continuing to work on the printing museum.

About two years ago, a former resident and 1957 graduate of Peabody High School arranged to rent a home in Peabody and visit the community often enough to get the museum in order and have the machines running. He had worked at the paper office as a youngster and had an interest in trying his hand at it again.

The Peabody Print Museum will be in operation for a brief time this summer when an art instructor from Montana State University comes to Peabody to print a genealogy paper on one of the antique presses. Peabody Historical Society hopes to print a commemorative newspaper later in the year.

Peabody Print Museum is open by appointment.

To make an appointment to see any of the buildings in the museum complex, contact Marilyn Jones at (620) 983-2185.

Hillsboro museums

Hillsboro has three stops for those taking a museum tour throughout the county.

At the Mennonite Settlement Museum at 501 S. Ash St., guests can tour the Peter Paul Loewen house, a typical Russian Mennonite clay brick house that has been restored and refurbished with Mennonite artifacts. Tours are $5 for adults and $3 for children by appointment only.

The Schaeffler house stands at the corner of Grand Ave. and Jefferson St., and was constructed by immigrants from Germany in 1909. It’s filled with Victorian-era artifacts. Tours are $5 for adults and $3 for children by appointment only.

Currently under construction is the Friesen Dutch Windmill at 501 S. Ash St.

The windmill is a replica of one built in 1976 in Gnadenau, several miles south of Hillsboro. The current windmill was built in 1994.

It is currently closed to the public while undergoing construction.

For tours of any of these museums call city hall at (620) 947-3162.

Harvey House

The Harvey House located at 221 Marion St., Florence, features many historical items relating to Florence.

Fred Harvey bought the building in 1877 for $5,370 and opened a restaurant in the hotel the following year. It was the second in a chain of restaurants he would open during his lifetime.

While pieces of the building have been relocated throughout the years, residents can still enjoy dinner served by uniformed “Harvey Girls.”

“It’s the first hotel Harvey ever had that’s the biggest draw for anyone who knows who he is,” Judy Mills president of museum board said. “He then went on to have fabulous hotels and restaurants across the county, but this was his first hotel and restaurant combined.”

The museum is open by appointment. Call (620) 878-4296 to schedule an appointment.

Goessel Mennonite Heritage and Agricultural Museum

Eight buildings make up the Goessel Mennonite Heritage and Agricultural Museum, where guests can see how Mennonites settled the area and lived during the 19th century.

Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday guests can tour a large collection of antique farm machinery from horse drawn equipment to 1940s tractors, to a one-room school house.

Museum director Marjorie Schoemaker said there is a little for everyone to enjoy.

“The museum tells the story of the Mennonites who settled here in 1874,” she said. “We have a replica of an immigrants’ house, barn, church, Victorian house, bank, school house, and preparatory school.”

One home on the site is thought to be one of the first homes built by Mennonite settlers.

“Some things are hands on,” she said. “We have a merry-go-round and a chalk board people can write on.”

The museum is closed December through February except by appointment. Cost is $2 children ages 7 through 12, $4 ages 13 through 61, and $3.50 for seniors.

 

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