After successful upgrades of two of its three main buildings, the Shawnee Indian Mission in Fairway is embarking on a renovation and addition to its west building, which is in need of repair.
The north and east buildings were re-opened in 2007 after being closed for three years for renovation. They now play host to thousands of visitors each year, especially area school children who get a full history lesson at the site. Now, the SIM Foundation is focused on raising money to fix the west building, says Foundation Chair Nancy Wallerstein.
The first step is stabilizing the building with foundation work and essential repairs. That work starts this year with money from the Johnson County Heritage Trust Fund — which gave $50,000 grants in 2010 and 2012 — and private donations. That money also paid for plans for the new additions, which Wallerstein says are still open for public feedback.
The west building plans include two additions. The first is a small connector building that will house an elevator and bathrooms that will make the building accessible. The second would be a larger addition that could serve as event space both for educational presentations and for private functions such as weddings or meetings that would generate revenue for the Mission.
The only alteration on the historic west building would be opening one doorway to the connector. The new buildings will be inside the footprint of original Mission buildings, according to site administrator Anita Faddis. The foundations were found in surveys this year. The first phase, stabilization and the connector building, is estimated to cost $750,000. The second phase event building is estimated at another $500,000. The plans include a technology upgrade for the entire building for teaching presentations.
The Kansas Historical Society must approve all of the plans. The Mission is owned by the state and gets operating funds through state appropriations. Except for the site administrator all of the work is volunteer. The current $110,000 annual appropriation is just enough to keep the doors open, Faddis said. State appropriations have dropped in recent years and may be cut again this year.
The Foundation has both a capital fund, where the building money is being raised, and an operating fund that helps with shortfalls in the state funding. A small endowment fund does not generate much income at current interest rates.
The Foundation, which consolidated several Mission supporting groups, has representatives from four surrounding cities plus Friends of the SIM, the Patriots and the SMI Historical Society.