Written by Phil Hammond, edited by Molly Hutson
Referenced in Lenexa’s Town Talk magazine Issue #2, March 2020
The Legler Barn was constructed in 1864 by the Adam Legler Family just west of the Santa Fe, Oregon, California, and Military Historical Trails. It was reported that the Legler Homestead was constructed west of the Historical Trails so that it would be free from the dust caused by the many wagons using the Trails. The location today is better known as the northwest corner of 95th and Quivira. According to historical aerials of the Legler Farmstead and Barn, the Legler Barn was located at the current location of Well Fargo.
Adam Legler was born in Canton Glarus Canzley, Switzerland in September, 1816. He came to the United States in the 1840’s with his wife Elizabeth Landolt and daughter Margaretha. They entered the United States through the Port of New Orleans and first settled in the area of Beaufort, in Franklin County, Missouri, just southwest of St Louis. In 1847, he applied for citizenship and, after five years of good moral conduct, the court admitted him as a citizen in 1852. In 1861, the Legler Family traveled by steamboat up the Missouri River where he then worked in the Kansas City, Kansas packinghouse until 1863 when he came to Johnson County and purchased 240 acres just west of 95th Street and what would become Legler Road (and is now Quivira Road).
In 1864 the Adam Legler Homestead was constructed on both the north and south side of 95th street including the stone barn. Adam and his three sons, Fred, David and Henry built the 28 FT by 39 FT 30 inch thick stone barn from limestone mined near what is now 97th and Monrovia. There were six small windows on the south side that were used for ventilation (not gun holes, as some believed). In the winter, the windows were stuffed with hay so the animals would have protection from the wind and snow. 12 inch walnut timbers made up the rafters of the barn. The timbers came from the area south of 103rd Street along Indian Creek, now known as Flat Rock Creek. Adam had to trade cabbages with the local Indians for the timbers. The well at the Farmstead was constructed by a negro man named Abe Green along with Gus Weber and George Gerner. An implement shed made of wood adjoined the barn in the early days where wagons and machinery were stored. The original barn door was known to have many initials carved into it over the past century. An attempt was made to save the door, but was too damaged.
It was reported that since the Legler Barn was on the Historical Trails, many wayfarers camped on the farm and slept near or in the barn. Some of the people rumored to have stayed there included Cantrill, and Jesse and Frank James. A few years after the barn was constructed a cyclone hit and lifted the original roof, carrying it 300 feet to the east. Over the years the roof was replaced by a metal roof.
In the early 1970’s the area around the Legler Barn began to develop commercially. Gus Bogina, John McNerney and Commerce Savings V.P. Gary Roehr spearheaded an effort known as “Save The Barn” to collect money to raise the barn and store the materials. In 1971, the roof of the barn was removed by the Lenexa Jaycees and the remainder of the barn was dismantled, stone by stone, and stored in the Holland Caves.
In 1974, Gus Bogina and Bob Rose, along with several other community individuals, led the efforts on to get the old stone barn reconstructed. They met at Bernice Harvey’s home, Lenexa’s Postmistress at that time. From there the Lenexa Historical Society was formed with a concentration on resurrecting the barn, and someday turn it into a museum in what is now Sar Ko Par Trails Park. At the beginning, they calculated that the reconstruction would cost about $100,000. On March 15, 1981 ground was broken in the park and the Legler Barn would later be reconstructed to join the reconstructed Lenexa Bandstand already in the park.
In 1983, the Legler Barn was finally reconstructed, enlarged to 36 FT by 50 FT, with the support of the City of Lenexa grant of $25,000, in kind work donated by many companies, contributions from other civic groups, companies, individual and a loan of $100,000 from then County Hill Bank. After reconstruction, the Legler Barn was opened as a museum displaying the history of Lenexa. The driving force to make the reconstruction a reality during construction was Bud Thompson, the Lenexa Historical Society President at that time. He acted as not only the architect, but also the project manager. The Legler Barn Museum opened with many antiques, historical documents and memorabilia, including the Lenexa Centennial Quilt, plans from the original Lenexa Hotel and recordings of Lenexans with knowledge on Lenexa’s history.
After the Legler Barn was reconstructed and opened to the public, the Lenexa Historical Society held annual Soup Luncheons, Pork Chop Dinners, and Miss Lenexa Contests that succeeded in raising the funds to pay off the loan at County Hill Bank.
Currently, the museum is open to visitors on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Also joining the Legler Barn and Lenexa Bandstand are the Lenexa Train Depot, Wiedemann Strang Line Waiting Station, Northern Pacific Caboose, and a Prairie Schooner Wagon.