The Douglas County Heritage Conservation Council announced the recipients of the 2020 Natural & Cultural Heritage grant program May 6, 2020, after the Board of County Commissioners approved them. A total of $200,000 was awarded to 12 projects. The projects and the amounts awarded are:
1. St. Luke AME Church, $57,750
Project: Brick and window rehabilitation
The plan is to anchor, repoint and rehabilitate the west and north exterior brick gable walls of the building. The work also includes removing the two large stained-glass windows by professionals and transporting them offsite for rehabilitation. They will be reinstalled, including protective covering.
2. Grassland Heritage Foundation, $36,790
Project: Restore the prairie connection at Black Jack Battlefield
Black Jack Battlefield has been invaded by non-native and woody plants altering the services provided by the ecosystem, like resources for pollinators, water-infiltration and soil structure. The undesired plants also greatly alter the historic aesthetic of the site. Through this project, the Foundation will bring Douglas County communities together to restore significant portions of the historic cover at this site, providing improved natural areas, a more accurate representation of mid-1800s landscape, and a community education space.
3. Haskell Foundation, $15,000
Project: Haskell Stadium Archway Rehabilitation
The Haskell Stadium Archway was dedicated in 1926 as a World War I Memorial. It also serves as an entry and “ticket booth” to the 1926 Haskell Stadium. Last year, the Heritage Conservation Council granted the Foundation $10,000 to perform a thorough professional conditions and close assessment as the basis for a preservation plan. As a result, a professional engineer, in collaboration with a roofing contractor, lead paint expert and core sampling analysis expert determined a detailed rehabilitation plan with an estimated cost of approximately $400,000, as specified in a 78-page report, "The Rehabilitation Plan." Based on the plan, the Foundation has identified the roofing replacement, door replacement, lighting and electrical needs specified in The Rehabilitation Plan as the basis to effectively and positively move the Archway rehabilitation effort forward. A substantial funding effort will start in 2020 to complete the rehabilitation of the Archway.
4. Douglas County Historical Society, $17,600
Project: Phase 3 of the Watkins Museum of History's core exhibit installation
This phase includes exhibits employing cutting-edge interpretive and visitor engagement techniques to explore themes that influenced development of the communities we know today: Innovation/Entrepreneurship, Railroads, Public Education, Universities in Douglas County, Lawrence in the Movies, and an Interactive Learning Center exploring home and work life in the early 1900s.
5. Vinland Fair Association, $7,140
Project: Vinland Fair barn exterior maintenance
In 2007, a 945-square-foot restroom/storage area was added to the north end of the original 1927 Fair Barn. The exterior was covered with car siding to match the exterior of the original structure. Unfortunately, unlike the fir siding on the original barn, the car siding installed was pine and has not weathered well. The clearstory windows on the west side are also showing signs of weathering. The overall project is to replace the siding on the addition with T-111, 4-inch vertical grooved siding, clean, scrape the clearstory windows and original barn siding and paint the entire barn to preserve the historic structure.
6. Santa Fe Trail Historical Society, $17,800
Project: Black Jack Ruts/Ivan Boyd Prairie Trail
The Santa Fe Trail ruts found at this site are some of the premier ruts/swales along the entire 870-mile trail. However, public access is severely limited and handicapped access is non-existent. The Society plans to develop a 350-foot long, 5-foot wide ADA-accessible trail of compacted chip gravel which will extend from the entrance road to the first rut. From there, they will construct an additional 1,500 feet long trail that is 3 foot wide and consists of compacted soil. It will go south from the gravel trail to the main ruts, loop to the southeast and then return to the chip gravel trail. Three interpretive panels will be designed by the National Park Service (NPS). One will be placed at the beginning of the trail, the other two, as well as two concrete benches, will be placed at the first rut. Also as part of this project, they will restore two historical markers at the site and construct an ADA accessible path to the log cabin museum.
7. Eudora Area Historical Society, $5,000
Project: Improvements at the Eudora Community Museum
The Eudora Community Museum has a number of improvement projects. These projects include: lighting improvements, repairing exterior stucco and section of the roof and replacing exterior sidewalk and stairs.
8. Friends of the Kaw, $20,000
Project: Prairie and riparian restoration and protection
Friends of the Kaw will restore native vegetation to a portion of the riparian buffer zone and upland area along the Wakarusa River, where it joins the Kansas River. They will also install two bioswale gardens designed to slow stormwater runoff from the city’s paved surfaces and filter out debris, nutrients, and impurities, before it reaches the river. This project will provide education for the Eudora community members through volunteer experiences and to students of Eudora High School through the Kids About Water program. Students will also visit the project site and learn about the importance of this work in protecting the Wakarusa River and the Kansas River, which is a drinking water source to over 800,000 Kansans.
9. Friends of the Baldwin City Library, $5,000
Project: 150 years of Baldwin City history and the story of Mahor Lucy Sweet Sullivan
The Baldwin City Library, Lumberyard Arts Center and City of Baldwin City seek to produce and implement 11 coordinated engagement activities to collectively and innovatively share the story of the first woman to be elected mayor of Baldwin City, Lucy Sweet Sullivan.
10. St. John the Evangelist Church, $5,000
Project: Digitization and transcription of oral histories of La Yarda residents
Mexican families who came to Lawrence to work for the Santa Fe railroad in the 1920s were housed either in box cars or in a humble settlement known as La Yarda located east of the railroad tracks in East Lawrence. Twenty years ago, as part of a special project, historian Helen Krische interviewed many Douglas County residents who grew up in the La Yarda community. Her interviews were recorded on audiotape and VHS. The oral histories document residents’ stories, describing the economic and social conditions of Mexican immigrant families in the early 20th century in Douglas County. The recordings offer vivid descriptions of family and community life in La Yarda. It is important to make them available to the public and to research. These tapes are physically located at the Watkins Museum of History and are accessioned there, but need to be catalogued. A prerequisite of cataloguing the tapes requires first converting them to digital format and transcribing their contents, making them useful to researchers. The funding will be used to have the tapes digitized and transcribed, so the oral histories may be catalogued at the museum and made available for public and research use.
11. Kansas Land Trust, $4,187
Project: Kansas Land Trust Junior Naturalist Journal
This project’s goal is to inspire children and their families to spend time outside, nurturing their appreciation and support of local landscapes. The Kansas Land Trust requests funds to cover the development, design, and printing costs of 300 copies of the Kansas Land Trust Junior Naturalist Journal. The journal is a Douglas County-specific, 20-page, professionally illustrated activity guide with space for nature journaling. These journals will be given to children in Douglas County as prizes for completing our Young Naturalist Activity Calendar – a summer journaling calendar and activity sheet that complement the Lawrence Public Library’s Summer Reading Program and Lawrence Green Spaces Art Project. The Lawrence Green Spaces Art Project collaborates with local artists to create artwork celebrating parks and green spaces. Our journaling calendar and activity sheets will include specific links to and descriptions of these parks and other green spaces throughout Douglas County. KLT will distribute the Young Naturalists Summer Activity Calendar in cooperation with Lawrence Public Library, the Baldwin City Public Library and the Eudora Public Library. KLT is initiating this program to celebrate 30 years of conserving unique Kansas lands.
12. Clinton Lake Historical Society, $8,733
Project: Wakarusa River Valley Community Spotlight Exhibits
In 2020, Wakarusa River Valley Heritage Museum will begin a series of in-depth exhibits to honor Wakarusa River Valley communities affected by the building of Clinton Reservoir. The series will start with Richland, our western-most community in the Wakarusa watershed, and work our way east. The communities of Twin Mound and Old & New Belvoir will be next. The grant fund request will cover two years of exhibit development, printed displays, and an investment in professional, flexible use “museum furniture” that will benefit any museum exhibit in the future. The 2020 exhibit highlights the town of Richland, an economic and social hub for rural families prior to its purchase/destruction by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The exhibit’s objective is threefold: to convey Richland’s historical importance to the region; spotlight longtime resident Dr. Weed Tibbitts; and honor memories of former residents through quotes gathered via oral histories the past two years. Ultimately, the “Remembering Richland” exhibit, and subsequent community exhibits in the series, will enable museum visitors an opportunity to understand the historical significance of this extinct town while former residents can reminisce memories of days gone by.
"Collectively, these grants exemplify the mission of the Douglas County Heritage Council to conserve both our natural and cultural resources," said Douglas County Heritage Coordinator Jan Shupert-Arick. "Combined with the heritage grant projects funded in 2011-2019, Douglas County is harnessing a rare opportunity to weave together exceptional experiences that tell the stories of our collective past."
The Douglas County Heritage Conservation Council promotes the conservation of our cultural and natural heritage to honor our past, enrich our present, and inspire our future.