Archive for Sunday, September 19, 2004

Sesquicentennial Commission seeks to inspire next generation

September 19, 2004


Bill Crowe wants to make the Lawrence sesquicentennial more than a big birthday party.

"It's a nice mix of a little hoopla, with the parade and celebrations in the park," said Crowe, treasurer of the Lawrence Sesquicentennial Commission. "But it's more about the educational stuff and the cultural activities we're leaving behind."

The 150th anniversary of the city's founding culminated in a week of events ending today, but the Sesquicentennial Commission has been working for four years on leaving a legacy that members hope will remain for generations to come.

"The first two years were pretty much below the radar screen," said Crowe, who is in charge of Kansas University's Spencer Research Library. "It's gone the last couple years where it's slowly built. We wanted to focus on our heritage but had to make this as much as possible looking forward. It sounds hokey to say that, but it's important."

The Sesquicentennial Commission was appointed by the City Commission in 2000 and has received $128,000 in city funding.

Members have come and gone since the commission's inception, but Clenece Hills, the group's president, said a core group of about 20 people had consistently worked on projects.

'Sense of community'

The biggest sesquicentennial event draws were the parade and festival on Saturday, but dozens of smaller projects funded by the Sesquicentennial Commission also touched the community.

Those include:

  • A mural, completed by VanGo Mobile Arts, at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt.
  • Walking tours of historic trees by the Master Gardener program.
  • CDs of historical information for elementary teachers to use in their classrooms.
  • A program highlighting the history of black churches in Lawrence.

"These are all things that we hoped would get people connected with each other and understand the sense of community here," Crowe said.

Legacy project

One of the biggest projects started by the commission is Sesquicentennial Point, a plaza on city-leased property near the Clinton Lake dam.

Fund-raising for the $475,000 project is under way, and Hills said groundbreaking could begin in the spring. Much like Centennial Park was in 1954, Hills said Sesquicentennial Park likely would be a "work in progress."

"We wanted to leave a legacy, and the ideas at first ran the gamut -- everything from a plaque at City Hill to a downtown pocket park," Hills said. "Ultimately what came up was we needed another gathering spot for Lawrence. Once we had a plan designated, that was very exciting. We're going to have a gorgeous park."

Hills said she hoped Sesquicentennial Point, along with the variety of activities that have gone on during the past year, would strike a chord with Lawrence residents -- and especially those who will be around in 2054, when the city celebrates its bicentennial.

"I hope it'll be something people say, 50 years from now, 'I remember that summer,'" Hills said. "I hope there will be some piece of all of these things that stands out to them."

Here's a look at the board of directors and members of committees that have been working the past several years to plan the celebration of Lawrence's 150th birthday:Board of directorsClenece Hills, presidentJerry Niebaum, vice presidentWilliam Crowe, treasurerBruce Roberts, secretaryMembers at large: Judy Billings, David Carttar, James Paddock.Education committeeMadge and Dick Fraley, Cathy Hamilton, Norma Harrod, John Jewell, Jerry Niebaum, Kay Rytting, Romaine Taylor, Karen Vespestad.Festivals committeeRoger Steinbrock, acting chairmanKendall Simmons, birthday party chairmanMembers: Judy Billings, Steve Braswell, Maria Butler, Karen Christilles, Bob Foster, Steve Hedden, Kay Henry, Clenece Hills, Tim Van Leer, Cynthia Lewis, Maria Martin, Cecilia Mills, Fred Pawlicki, Thomas Pfeiler, Sarah Randolph, Bill Snead, Roger Steinbrock, Steve Topping.Heritage committeePaul Stuewe, chairmanMembers: Katie Armitage, Wilma Bowline, Brower Burchill, Bill Elzea, Marci Francisco, Karl Gridley, Jim Owens, Rebecca Phipps.Horizons committeeMary Burchill, chairwomanJudy Billings, Fred DeVictor, Bob Georgeson, Erv Hodges, Thomas Pfeiler, Dolph C. Simons Jr., Steve Topping.Source:

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