Lane University’s Christmas Exhibit

(Frank) Back again. (Deb) Back again. And we want to take you over to Lecompton, of course, one of my favorite places. The territorial capital and as you were saying November, such great month to get out and see stuff, because the weather’s not too bad yet. And it’s a little on the cool side. So, it’s a great time to go out to Lecompton. They’ve got the two museums out there and this segment is going to be about one of ’em. But what were you about to say Frank? (Frank) Well, I mean yea, Lecompton itself, because there’s a recreational part of the river there. There are a lot of people that go there and canoe and kayak and all that. And of course, it’s the place where there are a bunch of bald eagles that roost there along the bank. So, it’s a beautiful place to go see and also learn some history about the state of Kansas. (Deb) Learn some history and you’ve got the State Historic Site there, Constitution Hall, that’s going to be celebrating a major anniversary in 2016. And you’ve got of course, Lane University where Eisenhower’s parents met. And Lane University’s got a fantastic exhibit going on and that’s what this next segment is about. You are going to love this. So, you’ve got to put this one down on your calendar to take advantage of. Get over to Lecompton. They’ve got a nice little cafe that’s open there on Main Street now, which is wonderful. And then over in Perry, just across the river, you’ve got a little pizza place and there’s places over there. So, you can find a place to get out, walk around, enjoy the history, and enjoy nature. You gotta go see it. An enthusiastic crowd assembled at the Riverfront Park in Atchison. It’s already looking a lot like Christmas at Lane University in Lecompton. Volunteers have spent hundreds of hours decorating 40 trees with thousands of ornaments, many of them historic, many of them donated by the local families. Paul Bahnmaier, president of the Lecompton Historical Society, showed me through the boxes and cartons of decorations that gave the appearance of Santa’s workshop rather than a history museum. As Paul pointed out, though, there is history in the ornaments and trees, too. He opened the glass case in which the fragile feather tree is displayed. Like many Christmas traditions, including the Christmas tree itself, the feather tree has its origins in Germany. There were made in the 1880s and 1890s from a center dowel with dyed green goose feathers forming the branches. Many of the fragile glass ornaments are light as a feather and come from Germany as well. Other ornaments are Scandinavian or Czech. The variety of Christmas trees ranges from tiny tabletop vintage trees, including brush trees from the 1940s, a small, pink Barbie tree, and the 15-foot cedar that is the focal point of the chapel upstairs. Volunteers estimate there are at least 5 thousand ornaments used to decorate the trees but add that the number increases because donations continue to come to the museum. This exhibit was very successful last year and the Lecompton Historical Society anticipates large crowds for this one. Group tours are welcome. The exhibit opened November 1 and will be open through New Year’s Day. Lane University was originally intended to be the state capitol and when that honor went to Topeka instead, the building was finished and turned into a university. Kansas senator Jim Lane pledged funds for the school and it was named in his honor. It is now the home and museum of the Lecompton Historical Society.