The Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum has a surprise gift for fans of local history and old photos depicting Wichita’s past.
Museum staff have been quietly working for about three years on a big ‘heirloom’ book, intended to celebrate the city’s 150th anniversary in 2020, and it will release the book on Saturday – just in time to give out holiday gifts. It is titled “A Created Spell: A 150th Anniversary History of Wichita and Sedgwick County”.
The hardcover book, which measures 10 x 14 inches, has 356 pages and weighs six and a half pounds. It costs $ 95 and goes on sale Saturday after a special book release event scheduled from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the museum, 204 S. Main.
Eric Cale, the director of the museum, said the book is an update of the last “must-see” book published by the museum in 1970. Entitled “Wichita Century”, it was a hardcover book with a bright red cover which was released to celebrate the city’s centenary. Only 5,000 have been released, and copies can still be found floating in antique stores and estate sales.
“It’s been the book of choice for 50 years,” Cale said. “We were interested in making a similar book, but it had to be twice as long as the first. There is a demand that has not been met for 50 years.
The production of the book was a collaboration between the museum’s longtime curator, Jami Frazier Tracy, and his predecessor, Judith Heberling, who now lives in Pennsylvania. The duo combed through the museum’s collection, which includes more than 10,000 photographs, and carefully selected which ones to use. The list includes 425 images, including several rarely seen photos from Wichita’s past that cannot be found floating around the internet.
“A Created Fate” is not written in chronological order but rather explores various aspects of the city’s rich history, from its colonization in 1870 to its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. topics like the Wichita Fair and Carnival, a big activity that took place every year downtown in the early 1900s. There are also sections on the arrival of automobiles in Wichita and on the first gas stations, early theaters and early newspapers, including The Wichita Eagle.
The Carry Nation story is included, of course, with a photo of the bar that the first Temperance Advocate famously destroyed, and there are sections on aviation, farming, and commerce. Readers can also find photos and stories of the early homes in Wichita, Ackerman Island, and the Riverside Boathouse, as well as stories and photos of the early Chinese, African-American, and Mexican-American residents of Wichita.
The book also contains photos of items included in the museum’s collection, such as documents, furniture, and knick-knacks that survived Wichita’s early days. Its color cover features a painting of the Museum House, formerly the Old Town Hall, painted by artist Stephen J Bauer in 1992.
“This is truly the culmination of 80 years of our work, both collecting artifacts and interpreting history through them,” Cale said.
The museum will celebrate the book’s release on Saturday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., with speeches scheduled for 4 p.m. The book will be on sale during the event, and after that, copies will be available in the museum’s gift shop, which is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Admission to the museum is $ 5 for adults, $ 2 for children, free for museum members and their guests.
This story was originally published 6 December 2021 13:03.