The Cawker City Museum was created in 1971 when the library vacated their original 1884 limestone building and moved into new quarters in the renovated and re-purposed City Auditorium building.
The High School was built in 1950 and was first used for the 1950-1951 school year. It was dedicated on August 25,1951. The school and the gym were completed at the same time. With the large high school gymnasium and a grade school all purpose room built in 1961, the old City Auditorium had lost its usefulness. The City Council saw an opportunity to redesign the 1930 building to accommodate much needed city office space, a city maintenance workshop and a more spacious public library. Work was completed by the end of 1970 and the old library building was entrusted to a newly formed museum board which voted Geraldine Garrett as their fist president.
With artifacts donated by the citizenry of the town and the original G.W. Chapman geological collection, the Cawker City Museum was established in time for the town's Centennial Celebration on May 29, 1971.
In 1973, the "old library" was officially added to the National Register of Historic Places. It has the distinction of being the first building built by a Women's Club in Kansas as well as for its architecture which embodies our pioneer heritage.
Over the ensuing years, the museum was faithfully maintained and was open to the public by appointment and on special occasions. However, the building continued to show signs of its advancing age and repairs were limited by the lack of funding. In 1992, it was apparent that a top to bottom restoration of the building was needed. Over time, the artifacts and original display cabinets were carefully packed away for long term storage as a comprehensive restoration and funding place was strategized.
Cawker City Museum
In 2000, the Cawker City Museum was reorganized into a 501c3 organization as the Cawker City Hesperian Historical Society, Inc. The new names reflects the origins of the "Women's Hesperian Library Club" who built the edifice.
In 2001, a substantial gift from the Elsie and Art Vesco Trust provided the seed money for the restoration of the old library building. Elsie Wall Vesco gave the gift in memory of her grandparents George Gottlieb Lutz and Ann M. Beck and their 13 children. George Lutz was a harness maker in Cawker City from 1879 to 1910.
With the Vesco gift, restoration of the old library could finally begin in earnest. A first attempt at winning a Heritage Trust Fund Grant was not successful, however, it was decided to raise $7,000 for materials and proceed with restoring the roof using volunteer labor. To raise the needed money, the society requested that people purchase a replacement metal shingle for $5 each and allow the donor to write a tribute or message on the back of it with a permanent magic marker. These metal shingles from the Berridge Manufacturing Co. were an exact match to the original ones patented in 1882.
A second attempt at a Heritage Trust Fund Grant was successful and in the spring of 2006, Mid-Continental Restoration Co., Inc. of Fort Scott, KS, repointed the building from the roofline to the bottom of the foundation and treated the limestone with a fungicide. A three foot crawlspace was excavated and a cement pad with vapor barrier was poured.
A gift from the Dr. Galen S. Battey family provided a new exterior heating and cooling unit which was installed along the eastern wall of the building and made use of the newly created crawlspace under the building.
Restoration of the Museum roof
In 2001, a substantial gift from the Elsie and Art Vesco Trust provided the seed money for the restoration of the old library to begin. To raise additional money, metal replacement shingles were purchased by donors for $5 a piece. These metal shingles from Berridge Manufacturing Co. were an exact match to the original ones patented in 1882.
Cawker City Hesperian Historical Society is formed
In 2000, the Cawker City Museum was reorganized into a 501c3 organization as the Cawker City Hesperian Historical Society, Inc. The name reflects the origins of the "Women's Hesperian Library Club" who built the edifice.