As the weather goes from cold and blustery to warm with milder breezes mixed in among the spring rains it is time to begin thinking about venturing outdoors. The flowers are beginning to burst forth while the trees turn green and luscious with their new blooms. This is a great time to renew your acquaintance with the rich history of Geary County and Junction City or if you are a recent transplant get to know your new home.
You can begin under the Memorial Arch in Heritage Park. The Stonework was produced by the Junction City Masons at a cost of $1800 as a memorial dedicated to the sailors and soldiers who served their nation from 1861 to 1865. The Memorial Arch was funded by the citizens of Junction City to commemorate the Grand Army of the Republic. Local churches sold buttons to raise funds for the project and it was a credit to all the people of Junction City. Heritage Park itself holds many interesting and poignant monuments. There are POW/MIA and KIA/WIA monument which was funded by the Rotary club and placed in the park on September 10, 2014. Then there is the Law Enforcement monument with the four pillars that represent Community, Vigilance, Strength and Protection. Take a stroll through the park and discover the many touching tributes located within.
Across from the Arch on the Northwest Corner of Washington and Sixth Street is the building known as the Bartell House which opened in 1880. It once was home to the Junction City Post Office located in the Southwest corner of the building. Across the street is the Rialto restaurant building which once housed the Good Eats Café and is once again an eating establishment. One can meander and see the original George Smith library which was located on the second floor of the 103 West Seventh Street, a Federal style building designed by Architects James C. Holland and Frank Squires.
On your walk through town do not forget to admire the beauty of the C.L. Hoover Opera House. The citizens of Junction City desiring to bring cultural events closer to their Midwestern location raised the monies in 1880 to construct the public house with a limestone foundation and the red brick face. The entire interior was lost to fire in 1889 and then renovated. It was renovated and remodeled several times over the past few years culminating in a grand re-opening on October 3, 2008 after a multi-million dollar restoration. After being on hiatus for 26 years the it was listed with the State Historical Register in 2003. The C.L. Hoover Opera House is now a hub of culture, theatre, and the performing arts in Junction City.
No matter if your interests are architectural, cultural, or historical the walk is not complete without a visit to the Geary County Historical Society & Museum. On the main floor you can explore the past by walking back in time through our Main Street gallery. The General Store display depicts the way life was and gives the viewer a glimpse into how the buildings they just walked by were utilized by our original citizens. A visitor can experience a time gone by. From the Bank exhibit to the Barber and Dress Shops as well as the Blacksmith displays there is something for everyone. There is an extensive collection of Pioneer photos that were once displayed in the courthouse. There is a scavenger hunt for children to enjoy as the whole family explores the exhibits. You can view the Tack Room exhibit with saddles, bridles, and equipment. There is also Grandma’s Kitchen which brings back memories of apple pie on the window ledge.
On the second floor there is a recreation of a One-Room Schoolhouse that was once common as there were approximately 45 school districts in Geary County from 1875-1935. We have a Railroad Station display that provides a glimpse into the major railroads that sent, received and enabled expansion within the Territories. In the lower level of the Museum there is a Firefighter exhibit as well as a Printing Press that was used to teach printing to Junction City high school boys between 1904 and 1929. Then there is the photography exhibit of A.P Trott, Louis Teitzel, as well as Joseph Ludd Pennell whose photographs appeared in such magazines as “Ladies’ Home Journal” and “Truth”.
The warming weather that heralds in spring is the perfect time to rediscover Junction City, Geary County, and the Geary County Historical Museum.