Archive for Sunday, November 4, 2007

Museum adds windmill as part of Civil War memorial

November 4, 2007

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Martha Parker, executive director of the River Valley Heritage Museum, approaches a windmill that was moved Saturday to Clinton Lake's Bloomington Park. The windmill will be fitted with a light beacon as a symbol of the area's Civil War and Underground Railroad heritage.

Martha Parker, executive director of the River Valley Heritage Museum, approaches a windmill that was moved Saturday to Clinton Lake's Bloomington Park. The windmill will be fitted with a light beacon as a symbol of the area's Civil War and Underground Railroad heritage.

Museum director discusses windmill

Martha Parker talks about the windmill tower to be fitted with a beacon light and about the Clinton area's ties to the Underground Railroad.

Next year at this time, as you look to the southwest, you might see a distant light beckoning through the night sky from beyond Clinton Lake.

At least that is the hope of Martha Parker and other supporters of the River Valley Heritage Museum.

"I would like to see something that rotates, but there may be something that uses reflection to look like it rotates," said Parker, executive director of the museum, formerly called Clinton Museum.

The first stage of making what will be the Freedom Light a reality recently was reached when a windmill tower was moved from the late Tensie Oldfather's property southwest of Lawrence. Oldfather, a former Clinton area resident and museum supporter, donated the 35-foot tower to the museum before her Oct. 2 death.

Trees had grown up around the 50-year-old windmill and had to be cleared before it could be moved. Parker's grandson, Clinton Jennings, and a friend, Tony Hadley, cut down the last of the trees on a recent Saturday. They then took down the windmill and moved it by truck to the museum grounds at Clinton Lake's Bloomington Park.

In addition to a light beacon, plans call for putting a sculpture at the base of the tower. The museum is seeking resumes from artists interested in making a sculpture. The deadline for submitting resumes is Jan. 15. Two or three artists will be selected by the museum board of directors, and they will be asked to submit proposals and models for a sculpture. The artists will be compensated for their sculpture models. The amount of compensation is still to be determined.

The sculpture must represent Clinton and Wakarusa Valley's historical ties to the Civil War era, the Underground Railroad and bringing slaves to freedom.

"The (Wakarusa) River certainly played a part in the movement of slaves through Douglas County," said Parker, who authored a book about the Clinton area's Underground Railroad background.

Moreover, the museum is on the homesite of Col J.C. Steele, an abolitionist.

"He helped form the first anti-slavery society in Ohio before he came here," Parker said. "He had five sons in the Union Army. I can't think of a more beautiful site for this."

Some artists have already expressed an interest in the project, said Parker and art project coordinator Elizabeth Hatchett.

"I think it's going to be a neat project," said Hatchett, a former Lawrence school art instructor.

Sculpture project

Artists interested in creating a sculpture to go with the Freedom Light Tower at the Wakarusa River Valley Heritage Museum should send a resume to Elizabeth Hatchett, 220 Deerfield Lane, Lawrence, 66049.

The deadline for submitting resumes is Jan. 15. Two or three artists will be selected to submit a sculpture proposal and build a small model. They will be compensated. The museum board will then select the sculpture it wants. The artist will be paid for work on the sculpture.

The museum will take public donations to help pay for the project. They can be sent to Carl Ward, 610 N. 1200 Road, Lawrence, 66047.

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