Old Shawnee Town is an outdoor museum recreating a Kansas prairie town dating from the 1840s to the early 1920s. The site features seven original and twelve replica buildings, two gardens, and three structures providing support services for operation of the site. Each building is furnished with artifacts dating roughly from that period. Owned and operated by the City of Shawnee, Kansas, as a division of the Parks & Recreation Department.
The area now comprising Shawnee, Kansas is rich with history and examples of characteristic American Midwestern life. Its heritage reaches back into the prehistoric era of the Osage native people and before. Its immediate origin springs from its location as the political and religious center of the Shawnee Indians.
As a result of extensive strategic planning in 2002-2003, the Shawnee City Council, in February, 2004 adopted the “Shawnee Town, 1929: Vision and Strategic Plan for the Future,” which established a new vision and purpose for Old Shawnee Town. This called for a complete physical and interpretive re-structuring of Old Shawnee Town to become Shawnee Town 1929, a community center and farm town.
New interpretive offerings, educational programs, and museum exhibits emphasize three major historical themes: Shawnee’s role as a farm town supporting area farmers; the strength and resilience of community spirit in Shawnee through difficult and prosperous times; and the effects of transportation on Shawnee as a link between points to the west and the urban center of Kansas City and beyond.
Image: Old Shawneetown by Michael Lee Summers.