The property I’ve always known as “Ten Acres” is now municipally owned, It’s the green space on the east side of South Sixth Street in Osawatomie.
I think of it as a former entertainment venue and athletic practice field. For some years now, it has sat, earning complaints from neighbors when overgrown and neglected and applause from those same people when mowed and tended.
I don’t know what the future holds for that property now. Its past usage has been varied. It was a large accessible place for chautauquas, visiting carnivals and even Booster Ball games. Much of that changed 100 years ago when a new ballfield was built to the south, taking those games and crowds away.
John Brown Park was improved with a fountain, bandstand, sidewalks and roadways. The new Memorial Hall offered indoor amenities for special events, and both attracted locals and visitors that once flocked to the old area.
Those weren’t the only changes. All around Osawatomie, there were signs of optimistic growth and activity. The Doctors Speer opened their new 25-bed West Highlands Hospital at Twelfth and Pacific streets, advertising treatment for “surgical, medical, neurological and maternity patients” in a “new, modern facility with high class accommodations.”
The city and Park Board constructed a natatorium in John Brown Pak, adding to the improvements there and catering to the campers driving the Cannonball and Jefferson Highways. That swimming pool was destroyed in the 1951 flood as were the fountain and part of the roadway. The Empress Theater was built on Main street, and the Osawatomie Country Club was organized south of town.
George Goudie offered both “staple and fancy groceries” as well as fresh meats, and Joe S. Johnson expanded his furniture store to include undertaking. He advertised furniture, rugs and linoleum and reminded shoppers to “watch our window.”
M.A. Zakoura’s dry goods specialized in “ladies’ ready-to-wear at the lowest possible prices.” The City Bakery promoted Mama’s Malted Milk Bread, and the Youngberg Drug Co. promised “Everything in Drugs.” Its competition — Meek’s Drug Store — countered with “Drugs and Patent Medicines of All Kinds.”
D.D. Hackler invited customers to come in for pool, billiards, cigars and tobacco, and the White Way Garage offered both taxi service and repairs. The Remington Lumber Co. boasted the advantages of Beaver Board as inexpensive, attractive and never needing repair, while the Busy Bee Cafe promised meals at all hours and “the best cup of coffee in town.”
The directors of the Farmers and Mechanics Bank (mechanics being a name used to denote railroaders) affirmed that deposits there were guaranteed for the full amount. Those at the Osawatomie State Bank promoted thrift as a “duty,” urging savings accounts.
Despite all this activity back in 1921, there remains one salient fact. Of all the places named here, only John Brown Park, Memorial Hall and Ten Acres remain today. The park was the property of the state of Kansas before being given back to the city. Memorial Hall has always been city property. Only Ten Acres survived intact despite different ownership. The City of Osawatomie is now responsible for all three.
Park upkeep is ongoing. Memorial Hall is undergoing repairs for its centennial. The future of that “green space” has yet to be determined.
I’m hoping Ten Acres will once again be a vital part of Osawatomie, and I wish our present-day urban planners success.