Archive for Thursday, September 20, 2007

Museum procures gallows

Kansas state prison memorabilia returns home for new display

September 20, 2007

Board members of the Kansas Regional Prisons Museum can breathe a sigh of relief. They have successfully obtained approval to include the original Kansas State Prison gallows in Lansing's newest museum.

During a board meeting Friday, Sept. 14, Shanae Randolph, director of economic development for the city of Lansing, updated other board members on a July 25 meeting with the Kansas Museum of History and the Kansas State Historical Society.

The meeting, organized by State Rep. Kenny Wilk, R-Lansing, included a detailed presentation by Mayor Kenneth Bernard of an overview of the concept for the prisons museum. After hearing the presentation, Randolph said the Kansas Museum of History agreed to a long-term lease of the gallows. The gallows were last used at the Lansing prison in 1965, when the state executed serial killers James Latham and George York. Since then, Kansas has changed its method of capital punishment, and the gallows have been held in storage in Topeka at the state museum.

Bernard said it's been a goal of board members for a couple years to bring the gallows back to Lansing and that he was glad the museum could finally come to an agreement with the State Historical Society.

With the help of Wilk, who sits on the prisons museum board, negotiations with the State Historical Society over how the gallows will be displayed in Lansing have come to an end.

Bernard said the agreement was a great success for the prisons museum.

Randolph said State Historical Society members at the meeting were impressed with the amount of research the prison museum's board had done so far. Their impression of the board's organization and dedication, Randolph said, led them to offer further services such as temperature control devices and displays.

"We're excited to have gained their support," Randolph said.

While no paperwork has been completed, Randolph said it was a "wonderful" meeting that has left both sides excited for the future of the project. She said Kansas Museum of History officials came into the meeting knowing only a little about the project, but after the presentation they were left "blown away."

In other business Friday, the board:

¢ Heard a treasurer's report by Leonard Lockwood, who said that after donations from the Blues, Brews & Barbeque competition and the Lansing Historical Society's 5K run and walk, the current account total is $36,203.

¢ Appointed Gene Young to fill the empty board position left by the resignation of Jeremy Greenamyre.

¢ Heard a collections update from Laura Phillippi, site supervisor of the Lansing Historical Museum. She said a man from Georgia mailed 67 photographs from a construction project he worked on at Kansas State Prison from 1922 to 1923. The photos were complete with captions including individual dates and names of people pictured. Also included, were letters he had written family members while working on the project.

¢ Announced that the Kansas Regional Prisons Museum will become an incorporated nonprofit organization within the state. Board members voted to approve the $750 required application fee.

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