Shawnee Town's Beginnings
Old Shawnee Town was founded, like many museums, as a result of a grassroots effort by individuals dedicated to preserving our past for the benefit of our future.
When, in 1966, the demolition of what was believed to be an area jail or holding cell was scheduled, it spurred the creation of the Shawnee Historical Society. This group of concerned citizens raised funds to save the building and move it to a nearby Johnson County park. The Johnson County Parks District leased the land to the City of Shawnee with the understanding that the Shawnee Historical Society would administer the development of “Old Shawnee Town” on 2 ½ acres of the park site.
Upon the successful reconstruction of the relocated 19th century holding cell, more buildings were added to the grounds and the City of Shawnee assumed responsibility for all utility expenses and the insurance of collections housed in the buildings at Old Shawnee Town. Then, on September 23, 1998, the Shawnee Historical Society transferred ownership of all artifacts “as well as the buildings housing such materials” to the City of Shawnee.
Since 1998, the City of Shawnee has invested significant resources in increasing staff, stabilizing structures, documenting the museum collections, providing developing an exhibit interpreting the City’s history and refurbishing the Town Hall for rental operations.
In 2004, a strategic plan was developed with the goal of helping the museum grow and remain a vital part of Shawnee’s past and future. A plan to move away from the 19th century prairie years and focus on Shawnee’s unique role in early 20th century farming was approved that resulted in this vision for the site:
Shawnee Town 1929 --an active, fun place where visitors of all ages learn what it was like to live in Shawnee, Kansas in 1929. Engaging and thoughtful tours, exhibits and programs will allow visitors to experience a typical day in and around the farm town of Shawnee, Kansas, in 1929.