Sunday, December 25, 2011

Strawberry Hill Museum & Cultural Center

Sigrid, Edel, and I toured the Strawberry Hill Museum and Cultural Center in Kansas City, Kansas on December 18, 2011. Sigrid had wanted to visit for quite some time after seeing several articles in the paper and mention made of Strawberry Hill at the Slavic Festival we went to several months ago.

Lewis & Clark spent some time on Strawberry Hill as they traveled on the Missouri River. In their notes on the trip, they mentioned all the wild berries growing in the area so I suppose that is the origin of the name. That was in about 1803.

This part of the Kansas City metro area really boomed quickly as the west was settled. The Missouri and Kansas Rivers meet just below Strawberry Hill and there was lots of river commerce to grow the area. Strawberry Hill is actually located in Kansas City, Kansas. This part of KCK became an ethnically diverse part of the city with European immigrants working at industrial jobs in the river bottoms.

In 1887, the Victorian home shown in the photos was built for John and Mary Scroggs. I won't attempt to give the entire family history in this posting but you can Goggle if you want more information. The family lived in the house for 32 years until the house was sold to the Sisters of St. Francis of Christ the King in 1919.

There was a severe flu epidemic in 1918 and many children were orphaned. The Sisters added to the home with a structure to house the orphans, provide school rooms and living quarters for the nuns, and of course a chapel for services. About 3,000 children passed through the orphanage during its 69 years of operation.

In 1988, the children's home was closed and the Sisters sold the buildings to the Strawberry Hill Ethnic Cultural Society. The Society opened the museum shortly thereafter. The museum has lots of fascinating old photos and exhibits on the Polish, Slovenian, Slovak, Russian, Serbian, Ukrainian, German, Native American, and Belgian immigrants that lived in the area.

I would have loved to show you photos of the museum and chapel, but photos were forbidden. Why, I don't really know after having seen the museum. We have toured cathedrals and museums all over the world and rarely do we run into a place that bans photos. I could understand the concern if they were worried about degradation of ancient art work, but they don't have any. If flash was a concern, then ban the use of flash in the museum. Thousands of people read this blog, so they missed a great opportunity to get some free PR.

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