August 2022 Newsletter

Fall 2022 | Published Quarterly | Vol. VII


THE LENEXA HISTORICAL SOCIETY 
Progress, Projects and Plans

During the past three years, and despite COVID, Lenexa’s Historical Society has worked diligently to upgrade its operations and expand community outreach. The LHS mission of preserving, presenting and promoting Lenexa’s history has been enhanced in the following ways: 

  • A new website with maps and graphics that includes links to other historical sites
  • Successful membership drives that added lifetime and annual members
  • Participation in the Spinach Festival, Chili Challenge and Barbeque Battle
  • Social media promotions and a Facebook page
  • New, high quality digital newsletters 
  • Murals and photographs depicting Lenexa’s history in the new Jack Stack Restaurant and Westlake Hardware stores
  • Renewed and improved “Learning About Lenexa” presentations at all Lenexa grade schools
  • In depth, entertaining articles for each issue of Lenexa’s Town Talk magazine
  • An ongoing project with Parks & Rec for interpretive signs in the Historical Complex
  • Creation of a new “Front Desk Book” for policies and procedures at Legler Barn
  • Numerous in-museum displays — recently, an Indian Artifact project by Canyon Creek Elementary School students

 Moving Forward

Recently, Lenexa’s Governing Body approved an agreement with LHS that is beneficial to both parties. It insures ongoing, sustainable support for initiatives that will showcase Lenexa’s rich and interesting history.  

  • Artifacts previously held by LHS will be owned and curated by the city
  • A comprehensive inventory of all artifacts will be undertaken
  • LHS will continue to operate as an independent 501c3 organization 
  • Technology improvements will be expanded — collections management software, computer / printer needs and interactive display options
  • A long range strategic plan for the operations of the Historical Complex will be developed
  • The History Videos Program will be expanded
  • Increased presence at Lenexa grade schools

LHS will focus its energy on educational outreach, civic involvement, fundraising for worthy projects, partnerships with other historical organizations, and partnering with local and regional businesses.


Now Showing:
When Summertime Was Drive In Time

During their 1950s peak, over 4,000 drive-in theaters operated in the United States. Around 300 still exist, including a small handful in the Kansas City metro area. Today, choices for visual entertainment are extensive. Television is available by cable, subscription or using an old-school antenna. Movies are viewed in theaters, online, and through streaming services. TV and movies are accessed via large screen, small screen, tablet and even your phone. 
But those modern conveniences seem nearly lifeless compared to the unique, incomparable drive-in movie experience, when summertime was drive-in time! 

You’d pay at the front booth and find a spot to park your vehicle. Then, with on-window speakers in place, the gigantic screen would blossom with previews, maybe a news clip, double and triple features, and often a cartoon or two. And (bonus) there was always a nearby concession stand loaded with popcorn, candy, refreshments and ice cream. 

 Lenexa’s “New 50 Drive-In” (later the “Fox 50”) made its debut in 1953. Northeast of what is now I-35 and 87th Street (NE corner of 87th Street and Lenexa Drive), the 29-acre site had space for 900 cars. One newspaper column stated that the drive-in “offered a kiddie playground, sizable concession stand, and restrooms patterned on the latest Hollywood type. A special milk dispenser was even installed for ‘bottle babies.’” 

Over time, the drive-in fell victim to declining revenues, and closed at the end of the 1977 season. During its 24-year existence, the site also operated as Sunday services for the Overland Park Christian Church, and a Swap-N-Shop. Eventually, the highly valuable site was razed for development of retail, restaurant and office buildings.


LENEXA SPINACH FESTIVAL

Sept. 10, 9 a.m.–4 p.m., Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park

One of Lenexa’s signature festivals returns the second weekend in September and the Lenexa Historical Society will be back again. Spinach is a big part of Lenexa’s history as it was hailed as the “Spinach Capital of the World” during the 1930s thanks to the excellent spinach crops grown in the area.

Stop by the LHS booth to partake in some of the festival’s favorite food traditions like spinach balls and the world’s largest spinach salad. For all event details visit the City of Lenexa’s website.


Want to be a member of LHS?
Lenexa has a long-running and continuing story — we’d love for you to join the Historical Society and help preserve its history.
Sign up at lenexahistoricalsociety.org/membership

Have a Lenexa History Story? 
If you have a Lenexa history story that you think would be a good fit for this newsletter, email it to us at lhsnews@leglerbarn.org

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