By Micah Wilkins
July 2, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – A celebration like this only comes around once every hundred years.
More than 100 community members gathered in front of the Garrison Community Center on Saturday, June 28, to celebrate the building’s 100th anniversary. Complete with a bounce house, live music, face painting, drill team performances, health information and resources, the celebration was an event for children and adults alike. Bikers Who Care, a group of community-oriented motorcyclists in Kansas City, helped sponsor the event.
The development of the Garrison Square area began in 1908 with the selection of property to create a playground between Fourth and Fifth Streets, Troost and Forest Avenues. It was located near the Garrison School, built in 1890. The school was named after William Lloyd Garrison, an abolitionist and journalist who strongly spoke out against slavery and was one of the founders of the American Anti-Slavery Society. The playground was also named Garrison. George Kessler worked on the design of the property.
The Kansas City Parks and Recreation department’s oldest community center was built between 1913 and 1914 as a gymnasium with showers, meeting rooms, a library and stage. It was designed by noted Kansas City architect Benjamin Lubschez. Swimming and wading pools were later added. In 1960, the center was rededicated after more remodeling was done to the building.
Both the building and the community surrounding Garrison have changed over the years, according to Carol Green, Garrison’s Director.
“[The neighborhood] has changed,” Green said. “It’s a very ethnically diverse community.”
Today, the Garrison Community Center continues its service to the citizens of Kansas City and the Northeast in many ways with adult and children’s athletic activities, educational classes, games, vocational training, health-related activities, a sprayground and arts programs. The celebration’s face paint, bubbles, bounce house and the band of kids playing “Brick House” on stage all point to the community center’s current focus on children and families.
“It’s in the heart of the public housing, within walking distance for a lot of these kids,” Green said. “It’s definitely a community center that reaches out to families and kids.”