FUTURE, PRESENT, PAST: A doorway to Garden City's past


The elaborately-detailed Wildwood mansion sprawls across the grounds at Main and Hazel streets, with a double-capped three-story tower rising high against the 19th Century sky.

The elaborately-detailed Wildwood mansion sprawls across the grounds at Main and Hazel streets, with a double-capped three-story tower rising high against the 19th Century sky.

The Victorian-style Myton house stands with its own impressive circular cupola, surrounded by a yard filled with trees and shrubs at Sixth and Pine streets. The dark brick Methodist Church awaits worshippers at Eighth and Chestnut streets, with an entrance framed by four Greek Revival columns, while the Cre-Mee Drive-In on East Fulton offers hamburgers and cheeseburgers to customers arriving in two-tone, tail-fin era hardtops and sedans.

If these four scenes seem a little out of place for the community many of us call home, it's only because of our 21st Century perspective. You'll be able to view each one, plus 16 others, as part of the new "Garden City Then and Now" exhibit at the Temporary Gallery in the Finney County Historical Museum. Each image is accompanied by a comparative present-day photo of the same location.

The Wildwood site, by the way, is now occupied by Plaza Medical Center. The Myton House stood just north of today's post office, on property presently filled with a series of office and retail establishments. The administrative center for the city of Garden City is anchored on the same ground where the Methodist Church was located, and the former Wheat Lands Restaurant is now being remodeled as Shweeni Fine Dining at the address of the old Cre-Mee.

Opening reception

We're hosting an opening reception for this new exhibit from 4 to 6 p.m. Nov. 19, and you're invited. Mayor Dan Fankhauser is planning to share some remarks, and the Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors will conduct a ribbon cutting.

After Nov. 19, the pictures and artifacts will remain on exhibition for the next several months, offering an opportunity for visitors to take a virtual stroll through Garden City, as well as a trip to the past, as they make their way around the 528 square-foot gallery.

The museum is located at 403 S. Fourth in Finnup Park, and admission is always free, with regular fall and winter viewing hours of 1 to 5 p.m. seven days a week. We'll be offering plenty of free refreshments too, during the opening reception, and want to acknowledge the generous sponsorship of St. Catherine Hospital and Central Care Cancer Center. The cancer center location at Fourth and Spruce, interestingly enough, is one of the sites pictured in the collection. For many years, the same intersection was the home of Ted's Market, a well-known grocery business owned by Garden City resident Ted Ludwig.

Sugar factory to Gardendale & Huthinson School

Some of the other featured locations include:

* The sugar factory that operated west of Garden City from 1906 to 1955, helping to fuel the Finney County economy

* Gardendale, a housing complex dating to World War II, where Harold Long Park stretches east today from Evans Street

* The railroad depot, which played a central role in Garden City's early growth

* The U.S. Army airbase, which became the airport after the end of WWII.

* The Pitts House on North Ninth Street, where part of the county administration building is now.

* Hutchinson Elementary School, replaced by the Finney County Public Library.

* The present and previous Finney County courthouses, both between Pine and St. John on Eighth Street.

*The former Garden National Bank Building at Main and Grant, now the office of architect Bruce Glass, where three successive facades have greeted customers as far back as the 1880s.

Step back in time

Other scenes will range from the various Garfield Elementary School buildings, at the site of Garden City's first dedicated structure for public education, to previous bridges spanning the Arkansas River on south Main, in the days when the riverbed actually held water. You'll even find Lee Richardson Zoo's once-popular Monkey Island, now occupied by a portion of our museum.

In addition to the early-day and present-era photos, many of the large-format scenes will be flanked by accompanying artifacts from some of the structures, as well as overhead images indicating the perspective and camera angle for each site. We're also planning to add a public journal, where visitors can log their own memories of life in Garden City

Our Temporary Gallery is dedicated to large-scale exhibits that change one to two times per year, and we're hopeful that the "then and now" format will illustrate how the community has evolved since the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Whether you've been here for part of that evolution or not — and remember any of the former landmarks that will come to life again in the display — we hope you'll mark your modern-day calendar for Nov. 19.

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