Liberal’s Downtown Museum to Open Saturday, June 24
Joe Denoyer - June 18, 2023 3:07 pm
Liberal’s new Downtown Museum will celebrate its grand opening on Saturday, June 24 at 1 pm in conjunction with the first Food Truck Saturday Festival to be held downtown.
The museum will highlight various aspects of downtown Liberal history with exhibits that will change every six to twelve months. The largest item in the opening exhibition is the mechanical horse, Thunderbolt, which has been repatriated to the Warren Hotel, now Landmark Center, by Todd Stanton after an absence of over forty years. Many seasoned Liberal residents recall riding Thunderbolt at the Warren Hotel in their youth. Back in the day, a ride on Thunderbolt was ten cents and though still fully operational he’s now retired from giving rides.
Other fun items on display include both American and Mexican original window cards for the 1947 RKO Pictures movie “Trail Street” which is set in Liberal, Kansas. The world premiere of the movie occurred in Liberal at the Tucker Theater (now American Title & Abstract) with Hollywood stars, a parade that drew floats, bands and spectators from five states, and the biggest BBQ event ever held in Liberal.
There are a number of interesting small items from our history including a Buster Brown comic book from Brown’s shoe store, a bottle of Liberal’s own soda pop “Liberal-Hi”, items from several of Liberal’s original banks, and items from the John Baughman real estate and land office which was located in the Warren Hotel for many years.
An unusual item loaned by the Clerk of District Court Donna Odneal is Seward County’s original county seal. The cast iron hand-operated seal weighs five pounds and no doubt traveled by wagon between Fargo Springs, Springfield and eventually to downtown Liberal as the county seat was moved.
The museum space has been donated by Landmark Center owner Todd Stanton with exhibition items coming from the collections of Lidia Gray, Todd Stanton, Seward County Historical Society and other individuals and organizations. The endeavor is privately funded and no admission charged or donation expected. The Museum is an off-shoot of the Liberal Downtown Association’s efforts toward redeveloping Liberal’s downtown.
Following the grand opening, the museum will be open to the public during regular Monday-Friday business hours. The photo exhibitions of early Liberal and Seward County remain on display in Landmark Center.