On Jan. 31, community leaders unveiled one of four new neighborhood markers for the Indian Mound neighborhood at the corner of Independence and Wilson Avenues. The markers were made with material from the 115-year-old Thacher Elementary school that was demolished in 2015.
In 2011 the second floor of Thacher Elementary school caught on fire. The fire was suspected to be started by arson, but regardless of how the fire started the building never recovered and remained boarded up until it was demolished in 2015.
Scott Wagner, the director of Mattie Rhodes’ Northeast Alliance Together (NEAT), said that he remembers a time during his tenure as a City Council member that they had three different developers go through the Thacher building, but all said that they wouldn’t be able to restore it.
In his speech, Manny Abarca, Indian Mound Neighborhood Association president, said that this project has been several years in the making, with a grant coming from the Public Improvements Advisory Committee (PIAC) in 2014.
Northeast Kansas City Historical Society President Kent Dicus said during the ceremony, “This is also a day of mixed emotions because this monument came at a price, and it was a high cost, as a result of the sacrifice of one of the Northeast’s few remaining architectural landmarks along Independence Avenue.”
“It’s a hope for the Northeast Kansas City Historical Society that the loss of this structure will be the last loss of the historic building along Independence Avenue because for every architectural building that we lose, we not only sacrifice the building but we also lose the character of the street and its history,” said Dicus.
“I think this is such a great honor to have such a historic structure created here for both the history and the future of Indian Mound,” said Abarca.
“It may seem like a symbolic gesture, it may seem like just a monument in town, but I think things like this really help us create a sense of community, really… help us build a sense of pride in where we live,” said Brynne Musser, Indian Mound Neighborhood Association treasurer.
Abarca said that these neighborhood markers are the first of two projects that are going to use the remains of the Thacher school. The second project will be a memorial for the building where it once stood on Independence Avenue. Abarca said that this second project has had to be rebid several times.
Abarca, along with being the president of the Indian Mound Neighborhood Association, is also a member of the school board and said that within the school board they are pushing to get this second monument finished within a year or two.