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Archive for Sunday, April 29, 2012

Lawrence’s unique history has a home at Watkins Museum

April 29, 2012

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Watkins Community Museum of History in downtown Lawrence is filled with reminders of the city’s colorful past. Here’s a look at just a few of the many pieces of history in the museum, 1047 Mass.

• Leo Beuerman’s red cart. Beuerman, who died in 1974, was about 3 feet tall. He couldn’t walk — and had other physical problems, including deafness and near-blindness — but he made a living selling pens, pencils and other items from his cart in downtown Lawrence. A plaque at Eighth and Massachusetts streets honors him.

• Milburn Light Electric roadster. The car was owned by Eleanor Coffin Henley, wife of Albert Henley, who was president of the local barbed-wire company. It was purchased by the Henleys in February 1916. In 1975, the vehicle was moved to the museum.

• A piece of window glass the Eldridge Hotel that fused when the hotel burned in August 1863 during William Quantrill’s burning sack of Lawrence.

• Souvenir program from the world premiere of “Dark Command,” which showed in Lawrence theaters of April 4, 1940. The movie was based loosely on Quantrill’s raid.

• The museum building. It was constructed between 1885 and 1888 as a mortgage company and bank. J.B. Watkins, a financier, whose office was on the third floor of the building, commissioned the building. His wife, Elizabeth Miller Watkins, donated the building to the city in 1929.

The museum is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursdays. Its winter hours — December through March — are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

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