Downtown Museum & Gallery

Liberal’s new Downtown Museum opened in June 2023.

The museum highlights various aspects of downtown Liberal history with exhibits that will change every six to twelve months. The largest item in the opening exhibition is the mechanical horse, Thunderbolt, which has been repatriated to the Warren Hotel, now Landmark Center, by Todd Stanton after an absence of over forty years. Many seasoned Liberal residents recall riding Thunderbolt at the Warren Hotel in their youth. Back in the day, a ride on Thunderbolt was ten cents and though still fully operational he’s now retired from giving rides.

Other fun items on display include both American and Mexican original window cards for the 1947 RKO Pictures movie “Trail Street” which is set in Liberal, Kansas. The world premiere of the movie occurred in Liberal at the Tucker Theater (now American Title & Abstract) with Hollywood stars, a parade that drew floats, bands and spectators from five states, and the biggest BBQ event ever held in Liberal.

There are a number of interesting small items from our history including a Buster Brown comic book from Brown’s shoe store, a bottle of Liberal’s own soda pop “Liberal-Hi”, items from several of Liberal’s original banks, and items from the John Baughman real estate and land office which was located in the Warren Hotel for many years.

An unusual item loaned by the Clerk of District Court Donna Odneal is Seward County’s original county seal. The cast iron hand-operated seal weighs five pounds and no doubt traveled by wagon between Fargo Springs, Springfield and eventually to downtown Liberal as the county seat was moved.

Following the grand opening, the museum will be open to the public during regular Monday-Friday business hours. The photo exhibitions of early Liberal and Seward County remain on display in Landmark Center.

Gallery at Landmark Center

The Landmark Center Lobby and ground floor hallways are Liberal’s largest gallery space. Gallery exhibits are free admission and open Monday-Friday 9am – 5pm and Saturday 12 noon – 4 pm.

Currently on display in the Landmark Center are “Images of Kansas Avenue 1888-1930”; “Ghost Towns of Seward County”; and “Maps 1857-1913”.

Kansas Avenue between 1st and 2nd Streets mid-1890s. Image courtesy Seward County Historical Society
Fargo Springs was the Seward County seat for nine months in 1886-87. Image courtesy Kansas State Historical Society.
Map of the Kansas Territory in 1869