Historic KCK building in need of donors for restoration following fire

Published: May. 25, 2023 at 9:51 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KCTV) - The Franklin Center in Kansas City, Kansas, is in need of repairs after a fire damaged the historic building on Wednesday.

“This act of vandalism is going to set us back,” said Amber Booth, who is on the Board of Directors at the Franklin Center.

The Franklin Center first opened in 1898 as a four-room schoolhouse that served eight grades. It had been empty since 2009.

“It kind of touches your heart because it goes back a long way,” said Gary Schliecher, who went to the school in the 1950s.

The damage to the building is evident. There are burn holes in the roof, busted up and broken windows, and a sign on the door that reads “unfit for human use or habitation.” The Franklin Center’s board still plans to restore the building, but their challenge is greater than ever before.

“There’s a lot of hopes and dreams for it, but we do know that we can’t do this alone,” Booth said. “We need the help of people outside the community now.”

Some in the community doubt the restoration will ever get done.

“I’m worried about the dangers,” said Alice Garcia. “I don’t think that they’re going to repair it. There is a lot of talk, but no action.”

“I’d like to see them redo it and get it back to where it was, eventually, and get somebody in here that can use it,” said Schliecher.

The building has deep roots in the community. In the 1970s, it stopped being a school. It eventually became a community center before being vacated in 2009. Now, after the fire and vandalism, it’s going to take a lot of work to get it back to its former glory.

“The vandalism does not define our community,” said Booth. “Argentine is full of culture and dreams. We just need some major donors, some major gifts to get behind it, to set us off on a good foot and to get the rest of the funding.”

Franklin Center’s Board of Directors will hold a community meeting on Tuesday, May 23, at 6 p.m. in the building’s parking lot. The future of the building will be discussed.