Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Fund drive nearing its end point

Organizers two-thirds of way to goal for sesquicentennial plaza

June 27, 2005


Carl Edison Friend's legacy lives on in the wood that makes up many of the Lawrence homes built in the early part of the 20th century.

His lumberyard, in the 1000 block of Massachusetts Street, provided supplies for many of those homes.

Soon, his place in Lawrence history will be set in stone - granite, to be specific.

His granddaughter, Nancy Helmstadter, purchased a stone in Friend's honor at Sesquicentennial Point, the plaza near Clinton Lake that will commemorate the city's 150th birthday, which was celebrated Sept. 18, 2004. The stone will represent the year 1909, the year Friend opened his first office in Lawrence.

"I really feel it's important to honor these people who came along in the early 1900s," Helmstadter said. "They really believed in what they were doing."

Selling stones to honor some early-day Lawrence residents is part of a final push to finish fundraising for Sesquicentennial Point.

Two overlapping groups - the Lawrence Sesquicentennial Commission and Friends of Sesquicentennial Point - now have raised nearly $200,000 toward their $300,000 goal, and they're gearing up to finish off the project.

"We are in the final push to raise money for the point," said Clenece Hills, president of the Sesquicentennial Commission. "I think we'll have enough money for them to get started, but maybe not get it finished."

Sunsets at the point

The organizations raising funds for Sesquicentennial Point are inviting people to check out the view from the site during evenings this summer.

From July 1 through Sept. 18, the gate at the site will be open from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. for "Sunsets at the Point."

For more information on the project, visit

The $300,000 goal would be enough to build the plaza. Plans call for three terraced circles representing 50-year segments of Lawrence history, the stones representing organizations, people and businesses in Lawrence history and a time capsule buried as part of the sesquicentennial celebration last year.

But Hills said another $110,000 would be needed to build a road and parking lot to the site, which is leased by the city from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Fred DeVictor, director of Lawrence Parks and Recreation, said money for the road is among the department's budget requests for next year. But he said it's too early to know how much money might be provided, if any.

"It would be nice to have a way to get up to the site, to get some things started up there," DeVictor said. "What we hope to do is, later this summer, meet and get our plan of action together. The next step would be based on what the level of funding would be."

He said work could begin on the site as soon as this fall.

Long-range plans at the site, northwest of the Off-Leash Dog Park, call for an amphitheater.

Hills said Sesquicentennial Point fundraisers plan to stop their efforts by Sept. 13, when they will present the money raised to the Lawrence City Commission.

They're continuing to contact individuals, businesses and companies to sponsor bricks, which is the primary source of fundraising. Cost depends on the date chosen - the year 1855 costs $1,855, for example.

That was the year First Baptist Church was founded, and it was the year members decided to purchase.

"We want to be a part of the present and part of the future," said Verlin Gilbert, a church member who spearheaded the effort. "By doing the Sesquicentennial Point, whoever thought of that concept had a real vision. I'm anxious to see what it looks like as it materializes."


flawrence 12 years, 11 months ago

How can one argue with such airtight logic? Making the heart of downtown a pedestrian area while leaving 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th streets open could be the most important change in Lawrence since the overhaul of the parks. Merrill is definitely onto something!

Richard Heckler 12 years, 11 months ago

Would you like to see a plaza built to commemorate the city's 150th anniversary? Build it downtown. It would be good for business.

Far more recognition would be given if this honor were placed in the 1000 block of Mass downtown . Let's close off Mass from the 700 block to the 1000 block and create this new plaza in the 1000 block. Leave 7th,8th,9th 10th streets open.

I cannot see tourists or locals driving out to Clinton to rcognize this part of Lawrence History. The money would be better spent in the downtown. If the mans first Lawrence office was in the 1000 block of Mass St downtown seems more appropriate.

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