Archive for Thursday, August 26, 2010

Monticello history kept alive with partnership

August 26, 2010

The Monticello Community Historical Society is trying to keep the area’s rich history alive, and the group’s newest initiative is in collaboration with De Soto USD 232.

Their goal is to register the Virginia Schoolhouse with the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area.

The De Soto Board of Education approved a partnership with the historical society to allow visitors to the old school house, which sits on the site of Mize Elementary School, 7301 Mize Road.

“The school district owns the building,” said Cheryn Swanson, president of the historical society. “It was moved to Mize in 2005 from its original spot near 71st Street and Clare Road.”

The building is currently on the National Registry for Historical Buildings, but joining the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area would put the building on a list of Kansas and Missouri historical spots to be in brochures and tour maps.

“It’s an area that borders Kansas and Missouri and by congressional law it is designated,” Swanson said of the Freedom’s Frontier. “We are submitting the schoolhouse and a few other areas to be on the map.”

National Heritage Areas, such as Freedom’s Frontier, connect local residents to the preservation and planning process of historical sites.

Cindy Ashby, historical society secretary and past president, said other sites would be the Monticello fire station and the Monticello Union Cemetery. The possibility of a fourth site has been discussed, as well, Ashby said.

The group is submitting paperwork to Freedom’s Frontier on the sites and should hear back in the next few months.

Swanson said the schoolhouse is set up so that people can call the Monticello Community Historical Society to request a tour. Arrangements are then made with a member to direct the tour and to contact the school district to make sure times are in accordance with any activities or pick-up and drop-off at Mize.

Visitors would sign in at Mize’s front office before the start of a guided tour. Tours would take place in small groups and last approximately 30 minutes.

“It would be looking through the schoolhouse and giving history and background on the school,” Swanson said of tours. “It’s mostly depending on what the person would like to have. You can go in and feel around.”

Swanson said adding the site to Freedom’s Frontier would hopefully bring more recognition to the building, which was used until 1962. Swanson said Freedom’s Frontier was a fairly new organization but the designation would mean a lot for the schoolhouse.

“It’s a very important site for our history,” she said. “If people are at all interested in history they would have interest in the house and the community. It’s a learning facility, as well as a tourist attraction. It’s important to keep the story alive of what happened here.”

Anyone interested in taking a tour of the Virginia Schoolhouse is asked to call the Monticello Community Historical Society at 913-667-3706.

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