Vol. 20, No. 47 A Newspaper of General Circulation November 24, 2020
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Kansas Underground Railroad barn eyed for history center
History buffs are proposing that a Kansas limestone barn used in the Underground Railroad should be transformed into a community history center.  
The Watkins Museum, Lawrence Public Library, Guardians of Grover Barn, University of Kansas Hall Center for the Humanities, and the Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities asked the Lawrence City Commission on Nov. 10 to turn the barn into an archival and digital research site.  
Abolitionist John Brown used the barn, built in 1858, to hide people escaping from slavery in Missouri.  
The city of Lawrence later used the barn as a fire station up until 2006. The National Park Service officially recognized the site as part of the Underground Railroad in 2018.  
Now it’s used to store police vehicles, but once the city completes a new police headquarters the building will no longer be needed for that.  
“The site is truly unique in Lawrence and worth preserving for public use,” said Steve Nowak, executive director of the Douglas County Historical Society and the Watkins Museum of History. “Often historic buildings are preserved, but they end up without a vital and relevant function. The concept we propose avoids that fate by developing a future purpose for the site along while planning its preservation.”  
Lawrence Assistant City Manager Diane Stoddard told the newspaper that the city doesn’t have plans for the building’s next use yet. She said the proposal to turn it into a history center will be discussed among city officials soon. –AP  
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