5/16/2017

Grant award will assist with elevating Quindaro to National Historic Landmark status

Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area News Release

Contact:
Jim Ogle, Executive Director
jogle@freedomsfrontier.org
(785) 856-3635
(785) 409-9943 - cell

Julie McPike, Managing Director
jmcpike@freedomsfrontier.org
(785) 856-5283
(785) 424-4453 - cell

Liz Hobson, Education and Interpretation Manager
ehobson@freedomsfrontier.org
(785) 856-2333
(785) 424-5086 - cell

Sonia Smith, Communications and Marketing Manager
ssmith@freedomsfrontier.org
(785) 856-5304
(785) 840-5499 - cell
 
Grant award will assist with elevating Quindaro to National Historic Landmark status

On Friday, May 12, the Kansas Historic Board of Review approved a $20,000 grant request to fund a project to elevate the Quindaro Townsite ruins to National Historic Landmark status. Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area (FFNHA) and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City Kansas worked together to submit the grant application. The grant will be awarded to the Unified Government, and administered by Freedom's Frontier.

Now, staff from Freedom's Frontier will meet with the Kansas Historical Society State Historic Preservation Office to review the project. The funding was requested to pay for a consultant to complete the national historic landmark application. Freedom's Frontier will work with the consultant, and oversee the project. 

A designation as a National Historic Landmark would elevate the status of Quindaro, and would:

  • turn the local significance of the Quindaro neighborhood to national significance.
  • increase the scope of historical content.
  • create more visibility for Quindaro and the surrounding region.
  • increase funding opportunities for preservation of Quindaro.

Over the years, various groups have endeavored to preserve and interpret the stories of the Quindaro neighborhood with limited success. In 2002, the town's ruins were listed on the National Register of Historic Places. National Historic Landmark is a rarer designation for historic places.

Only 2,500 historic properties have been named National Historic Landmarks, and only 26 of the properties are in Kansas. They are designated as nationally significant historic places by the Secretary of the Interior, and the National Park Service, because they possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States.

In 2016, committees were formed that include representatives from a variety of organizations interested in preserving the history of Quindaro. The committees are exploring ways to step up the efforts to preserve this nationally historic site. In addition to working to have Quindaro named a National Historic Landmark, the committees have been working on gathering stories about Quindaro, and sharing those stories with the public.

In February, FFNHA partnered with the Kansas City, Kansas Public Library to record oral histories of Quindaro, and collected interviews from 9 people. A second oral history session is planned at the Main Library, 525 Minnesota Avenue, Kansas City, Kansas, on Saturday, May 20, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Quindaro Oral History program is open to the public.

The committees are also working on a Quindaro Symposium, scheduled for 2018. Freedom's Frontier issued a call for scholarly essays about aspects of the Quindaro neighborhood last fall. Selected essays will be shared at the symposium.

Quindaro, which once stretched from 17th to 42nd Street and from Parallel to the Missouri River, was established in 1856 by settlers who sought to create a safe harbor for escaped slaves crossing the Missouri River into Kansas. Abolitionists in Quindaro made it an important piece of the Underground Railroad for those seeking freedom from slavery.

The town was named after Nancy Quindaro Brown, a Wyandot Indian married to the town's founder, Abelard Guthrie. By 1862, with the town's population scattered as a result of the Civil War, the Kansas state legislature revoked the town's incorporation. 

In the 1860s, a Presbyterian minister founded the Quindaro Freedman's School to educate the children of the escaped slaves and other black families that were settling the area. In 1882, the school was acquired by the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1891, it became Western University.

The university was the only one of its kind to ever operate in Kansas. By the early 1900s, the campus had enlarged its campus, and was thriving as a university. In 1911, a statue of abolitionist John Brown was erected on the campus. Today, the statue remains as evidence that Western University and the town of Quindaro once stood. The university closed in the 1940s.

Quindaro's ruins belong to the Allen Chapel AME Church and the City of Kansas City, Kansas, both of which are involved actively in the project to gain National Historic Landmark status for Quindaro. 

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Heritage Area Fast Facts 

Mission: Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area (FFNHA) is dedicated to building awareness of the struggles for freedom in western Missouri and eastern Kansas. These diverse, interwoven, and nationally important stories grew from a unique physical and cultural landscape. FFNHA inspires respect for multiple perspectives and empowers residents to preserve and share these stories. We achieve our goals through interpretation, preservation, conservation, and education for all residents and visitors.

Kansas Counties: Allen · Anderson · Atchison · Bourbon · Chautauqua · Cherokee · Clay · Coffey · Crawford· Douglas · Franklin · Geary · Jackson · Jefferson · Johnson · Labette · Leavenworth · Linn · Miami · Montgomery · Neosho · Osage · Pottawatomie · Riley · Shawnee · Wabaunsee · Wilson · Woodson · Wyandotte

Missouri Counties: Barton · Bates · Buchanan · Cass · Clay · Jackson · Johnson · Lafayette · Platte · Ray · St. Clair · Vernon

Established: October 12, 2006

Web site: www.freedomsfrontier.org

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