Dark for decades, Westwood Hills lamppost shines again at entry to ‘most beautiful little city in Kansas’

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A project months — and thousands of dollars in donations — in the making came to fruition Monday in Westwood Hills, where a historic street light once again illuminated an entryway to the “most beautiful little city in Kansas” for the first time in decades.

Mayor Paula Schwach was flanked by dozens of the small municipality’s approximately 400 residents when with the flip of a switch light came back to a lamppost at the corner of 50th Street and State Line Road that was part of the initial 1920s construction of the Westwood Hills Shops. Electrician Chris Hedges guesses that the lamp would have been operational through the late 1960s or early 1970s, when transition to new types of electrical infrastructure would have rendered it inoperable.

It had sat dark since then, but as part of a push to beautify Westwood Hills’ public spaces in the wake of its designation as a Kansas Historic District, members of the Westwood Hills Foundation decided to investigate what it would take to get power flowing to the lamp again.

With the help of significant donations from residents —Schwach estimated that the cost to restore the lamppost was around $10,000 — the group had enough funds to hire crews to restore power to the lamp. Hedges’ company began work last week, tapping into an electrical post behind the Westwood Hills shops, and then burying new electrical cable approximately two feet under the pavement through the parking lot. When crews went to install new power cables into the pole itself, they found that the anchor bolts had rotted away. They ended up having to reset the pole in new concrete.

The pole had a plaque put on honoring Westwood Hills resident Karen Shelor, who organized efforts to make the project a success.

“With just 175 households and these shops as our tax base, it can take a lot of work and generosity to get things done,” Schwach said. “

The pole is now fixed with an energy efficient LED bulb.