Old Abilene Town

Year(s) Listed:
Location Class:
Built: 1957 | Abandoned: N/A
Status: Saved
Contributor: Kansas Preservation Alliance

Old Abilene Town is an example of an early heritage tourism site founded to help promote the western heritage of the town.  Following the national model of Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village, Old Abilene Town represents a collection of buildings that were moved from their original sites in the early 1960s.  Though the practice of moving historic buildings from their original context is viewed as controversial among historic preservationists today.  Old Abilene Town as an outdoor museum represents early efforts of community-supported heritage tourism.

Old Abilene Town is a collection of about 20 buildings including:  log cabins, churches, train depots, commercial buildings and barns.  In its heyday, Old Abilene Town treated thousands of visitors to Old West shootouts and other lively historical adaptations.  Old Abilene Town prospered in the first 20 years of existence until it encountered financial challenges in the late 1970s.  Changes in ownership and a plan to move the town closer to I-70 caused community support to wane while the buildings deteriorated.  In 2006, Historic Abilene, Inc. reconstituted its board and developed a business plan that includes preserving the historic buildings on site and providing living history programming.  Currently the group is raising awareness about the plan and seeking funding sources.

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