THE VILLAGE AND ITS BUILDINGS
The Barton County Historical Society Museum and Village began in 1964 on land donated by the Charles Hulme Estate. The Museum Building was constructed in four phases. The original west wing was completed in 1974 and the east wing was added in 1976. In 1980 and 1981, the west wing was remodeled to provide display areas. A 30'x60' addition was completed in 1999, making the Museum more handicap accessible and providing additional space for meetings, storage and work areas. The Ray Schulz Research Library, located on the south side of the Museum, was completed in 2006.
St. Paul's Lutheran Church
In 1967, the former St. Paul's Lutheran Church and its appointments were moved from south of Albert, Kansas, to the Village grounds. Built in October 1898, with a limestone foundation quarried 2½ miles away in Rush County, the church features a 700-pound bell originally hung in the steeple in 1905. The building suffered tornado damage in 1909, but the members of the congregation and their horses soon put it aright. Active until the 1960s, as the neighborhood's population declined, so did church membership. Soon after the congregation celebrated its 93rd anniversary in 1964, the church was closed.
School District No. 50
A frame building, which once housed the students of Barton County School District No. 50, was added to the Village in 1968. It originally stood approximately 3½ miles south and east of the Village. The District was organized July 28, 1876. The school house is still supplied with all the furnishings of a typical country school. Visitors can easily take a step back into the school days of their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.
The woodvaned Waupun Windmill was restored and donated by the late Leon McKinney of Great Bend. Manufactured by the Aulthouse-Wheeler Manufacturing Company of Waupun, Wisconsin, these windmills were sold by the Great Bend Implement Company in the early 1900s. It was erected on the Village grounds in 1975. Standing beside beds of native wildflowers, children - and adults - can pump cold water by hand from the well beneath the windmill.
Castleton, Kansas, Post Office
Originally built about 1871 in Castleton, Kansas, the little Post Office building was added to the Village in 1971, donated in memory of Mrs. James (Virginia) Boyle. By 1932, the small town's businesses had declined and, by the 1950s, there was little left of Castleton. What was left made a perfect location for the make-believe town of "Sevillinois, Illinois, 1905" in the movie "Wait Till the Sun Shines Nellie," filmed there in the late 1940s.
This native stone house, originally erected on the homestead of the E.J. Dodge family in 1873, was moved, stone by stone, in 1976-77 from along Walnut Creek, just off Bissell's Point Road. Donated by Leroy Schartz, the Nani-Ba-Zhu Lodge, Order of the Arrow, Kanza Council, Boy Scouts of America, provided the labor under the direction of Lee Phillips. Authentic furnishings in the small house illustrate the hardships of pioneer life on the prairies of Kansas. Included in the displays are artifacts found at the original site when the house was dismantled.
AT&SF Railroad Depot from Belpre, Kansas
In 1968, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad depot, plus the entire dock and brick sidewalk, dating from 1910 was acquired from Belpre, Kansas. The operator's room, completely equipped just as it was when the station was still in operation, is due to the generosity of the Santa Fe Railroad and the American Express Company. Mr. Harold Bowlus, a former agent in this depot, and his wife donated the operator, who is still "running the station."
The Red Barn
To provide additional storage and display space, the multi-purpose building, known at the Village as "The Red Barn," was erected in 1980. It is one of eight of its kind in the United States. This Co-op Barn is 36'x96'x12' with six (6) "sky lites." Presently it houses a variety of displays, including the clock from St. Ann's Church in Olmitz, printer's and harness shops, a cream station, a courthouse office, a display of old household appliances and an old-time country back porch.
The Pole Barn - Transportation Building
In 1984, the second barn, termed a pole barn from its type of construction, was added to the Village to expand implement and vehicle display space. This Stockade Building measures 48'x96' and is presently used to house the Museum's collection of transportation items, including antique cars and trucks. A recent addition to the building is a garage display which pays homage to "White's Garage," a fondly remembered part of Great Bend's history.
Until well into the 20th Century, no town (small or large) could have survived without a blacksmith's shop. This native stone building was completed in 1990 and houses original blacksmith's equipment donated by the Owen Bushnell Estate. Workbench, forge, anvil and tools stand ready to repair a farmer's implements or shoe a team of horses. Lest the ladies be left out, the blacksmith was also equipped to sharpen her kitchen knives or repair a cooking pot that had developed a leak.
Cook-Becker Agriculture Building
The Village boasts a collection of antique tractors and other agricultural implements that are housed in the Cook-Becker Agriculture Building, also known as "The Tractor Barn," which was built in 2001. Visitors to the Village may see the variety of tractors and implements that helped build agriculture in the State of Kansas. Besides tractors, including John Deere, Case, Farmall, Ford and other models, the building shelters combines, seed cleaners, drills and other items. Just north of the building, additional farm implements, including disks, harrows and other pieces, are displayed on a concrete pad.
What is a Lustron Home? Promoted as the most modern advancement in post-World War II housing, Lustrons were constructed of metal panels. Disassembled and reassembled, piece by piece, in 2005 and 2006, the house was donated in memory of Marion and Edith Weeks and is complete with authentic period furnishings.