Awards of Excellence:
Arvonia Historic Preservation Society

Year(s) Listed:
Location Class:
Built: N/A | Year Saved: N/A
Contributor: Kansas Preservation Alliance

Arvonia, Kansas, was established in 1869 as a Welsh settlement. In 2014, the Arvonia Historic Preservation Society was founded to keep the history of the settlement alive, and has accomplished much in the short time since its inception. The settlement is home to two historic properties, the 1872 Arvonia School and the 1883 Calvinistic Methodist Church. The School was designed by pioneer Kansas architect John G. Haskell, and is one of the earliest known architect-designed schools in the state. The building was constructed by Welsh craftsman James Rice, and has become a Kansas icon, immortalized in the art, photography, and legend of the region. The Church is an example of the simple architecture commonly used by the Welsh congregations. It was the center of religious and social activity in the community until the church disbanded in 1968. As part of the mission of the Arvonia Historic Preservation Society to preserve the history and heritage of the settlement, both buildings have had restoration work performed, and fundraising is ongoing to provide floors in both buildings, restoration of the ceiling in the school, and the restoration of the desks and pews as well as electrical work. Signs for the site have been made, and the Society has placed a visitor box so that guests to the site can register. Tours are provided at least twice a year, and the community has played host to a fall festival in October for the surrounding area for the past four years. Members of the Society have ranged far in their promotion efforts, with members building a float for the Lebo 4th of July Parade, manning a booth at the Kansas Sampler Festival in Wamego in May 2015, and even communicating with a Welsh actor who participated in a BBC Wales program on Welsh Ancestry that traced a group of his ancestors to Arvonia. A part of Osage County is and will be better for the work this group has done and will continue to do in the years ahead.

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