Focusing on our heritage

Garden City's familiar Finnup House rests amid pines and elms on Ninth Street, the Windsor Hotel cupola rises against a slate blue sky, and the home built by founding father Buffalo Jones stands out in black and white, adorned by a neatly-hung porch swing and picket fence.

Those images and others make up the Landmark Homes and Buildings Art Collection, which we're displaying in the Front Door Gallery at the Finney County Historical Museum.

This collection of 12 paintings and drawings was completed 34 years ago by a handful of local artists, commissioned to depict some of the community's most historic structures.

The collection was donated recently to the Finney County Historical Museum by Garden City resident Barbara Oringderff, including watercolor, acrylic and oil paintings, as well as pen and ink works. The artists include: Alvin Schultz, who continues to work as a noted local artist; the late Louise Beckett; the late Keith Fillmore; the late Jack Kempton; the late Bob Scott; the late LeRoy Seay.

Array of homes to hotels

In addition to the Windsor, dating to 1886, and the 1902 Finnup House at 401 N. Ninth, the collection shows a perspective on the 1879 C.J. Buffalo Jones home in its original configuration at 515 N. Ninth.

The collection encompasses Lincoln Block on Eighth Street, dating to 1887; the Sunnyland mansion, erected in 1902 at Fifth and Pine; and the 1902 Finnup Land Company building on south Main Street, once used as the Finney County Courthouse.

The series also features the American Legion Memorial Building, a 1932 art deco structure at 125 W. Pine; two depictions of Cedar Cliff, a brick Finnup family home built in 1909 at 501 N. Ninth; and the late 19th Century Buffalo Hotel, placed by Jones on Grant Avenue before fellow founding father John Stevens built the Windsor.

The series is completed the Kankakee Hotel, which once stood on south Main Street; and the south Finnup family frame house, completed at 405 N. Ninth in 1907.

Monday reception and sponsors

The exhibit is sponsored by Regan Jewelers and Commerce Bank. Ward's Garden Center has provided a pair of accompanying floral arrangements.

The display opened Sept. 3, but we've scheduled a public reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday to recognize the generosity of the sponsors and the donor.

We'll provide light refreshments, and we're hoping you can come and view this historic Garden City artwork, as well as pay tribute to the individuals who created it.

The collection was completed in 1979, when all of the works were simultaneously commissioned by New West, a periodical then published by the donor before she launched today's Territorial Magazine.

Historical significance

The images were displayed several times over the years, and once hung in the administrative center of USD 457, but none have appeared publicly for more than a decade, except during a one-day outdoor exhibit this June.

Though some appear differently than when built, 10 of the 12 structures remain in Garden City today. The Kankakee and the Finnup courthouse were demolished years ago, though three of the courthouse columns stand just north of the museum at 403 S. Fourth in Finnup Park. The core of the Jones home still exists, but a latter-day remodeling project has significantly altered the facade.

The Front Door

Gallery is a small display space just inside the museum's entrance. We inaugurated it in May as a site where exhibits can be changed repeatedly throughout the year. The group of paintings follows a display of Kansas landscape photography by local resident Shirley Creeden. We launched the gallery with an exhibit celebrating the southwest Kansas Mexican immigrant culture.

Admission is free, and in addition to the reception, the display is open 1 to 5 p.m., seven days weekly. So are all the other exhibits in the museum, ranging from "Spirit of the Plains," "Buffalo Jones - Last of the Plainsmen," and "Finney County Agriculture" to "Take Stock in Finney County" and "My Place in Time."

We also offer a participatory children's area entitled "Celebrate Kansas," and a period clothing dress-up area styled like a room of the historic Windsor. In addition, the museum includes a temporary gallery, currently featuring a community theater display that soon will be eclipsed by an exhibit entitled "Garden City, Then and Now."