Baldwin City Council names new downtown park for town’s 1st female mayor
photo by: Submitted graphic/BG Consultants
The Baldwin City Council has agreed to name a park being constructed in downtown Baldwin City in honor of the city’s first female mayor.
At the recommendation of Councilman Brian Cramer, the Baldwin City Council on Jan. 21 unanimously approved the name Sullivan Square for the multi-use park now being constructed in an undeveloped downtown lot in the 700 block of High Street. The name honors Lucy Sweet Sullivan, who was elected Baldwin City mayor in 1889. The site, which has been home to many community events, has been unofficially known as the Lotatorium for much of the last decade.
Cramer, who serves on the City Council’s community development subcommittee and on the 2020 Baldwin City sesquicentennial committee that Mayor Casey Simoneau appointed last month, told the City Council that Lucy Sullivan lived on the lot in a home that she and her husband, the Rev. John Sullivan, built in the 1800s. After her husband’s death, Lucy Sullivan donated the house and property to the Methodist organization that founded Baker University, which used it as the home of the school president until a new residence was built in 1951. Kansas Historical Society records indicate that the house was moved to a location outside the city in 1980 and later demolished.
In making the case for the Sullivan Square name, Cramer said that the home and downtown lot were student gathering places in the late 1800s and early 1900s before Baker had a student union, and he said it was the site of frequent Sunday music concerts.
“Even back in the 1800s, there were concerts in the Lotatorium, which is our goal for this summer,” he said.
Cramer further noted that one of the last people to live in the house was Baker playwright Don Mueller, who wrote the melodramas “The Dreadful Doings at the Cider Mill, or the Ballad of Sweet Lucy Sweet” and “The Ballad of Black Jack,” which has been performed at the lot off and on during the Maple Leaf Festival since 1970.
Last year, the City Council approved converting the Lotatorium into a $850,000 multi-use park that will include restrooms, a stage, a large community TV and a splash deck water feature. It is estimated the park’s construction will be completed in March or April, and the formal dedication of the park is planned for later in the spring.
In an action related to the sesquicentennial, the City Council approved including the 150th anniversary motto “150 years of Colorful History, People, Places and Progress” on a commemorative coin to be minted for the occasion. Cramer said the sesquicentennial committee had adopted the motto, and he said it will also be the theme of this year’s Maple Leaf Festival and Parade.