Memorial Hall, first dedicated in 1921, is a public facility located at 411 11th St. It was restored in 1982 with city funds, county funds, and private donations. It is intended for the use and enjoyment of the people of this community.
The facility is used regularly for City Council meetings, Municipal Court, local organization meetings, and community functions. The hall includes a meeting room, stage, kitchen, and service area.
The facility is available to be rented for family reunions, birthday parties, wedding receptions, and other activities. Please call 913-755-2146 ext 105 or 109.
“Anna January, then the President of the Board of Trustees of John Brown Memorial Park, came up with the idea of a Soldiers and Sailors Memorial at the end of World War I. Planning for what was then referred to as “Victory Hal” began in 1918 with a successful local bond issue for the estimated cost of $20,000.
January led a contingent to Topeka and convinced the legislature to contribute another $17,000 for improvements to the park, the surroundings for the memorial. George Washburn and Son of Ottawa designed the building. Park improvements included an improved entrance, a bandstand and water and sewage service to the park itself. Local donors raised the final $870 needed for completion.
Early plans called for the dedication to be held on May 30, the anniversary of John Brown’s birth, but no suitable speaker could be found for that date. Instead, the building’s gala was held conjointly with that of July 4.
A full program of events included a parade, a basket dinner, band concert, a reading of the Declaration of Independence, a speech by the Hon. Fred Volland, former Kansas legislator, races and games, a baseball game, fireworks display and dance. Many of those did not happen as planned.
It rained. The parade went on, showing the same spirit that kept morale up during the war. Its highlight was the firing of the two model 1908 Howitzer cannons that had been loaned for display in the park. Merchants were well represented in a variety of floats and the comic features entertained. Volland’s address was considered to be masterful in its eloquence.
The races and other field events such as the fat man’s race, the boy’s sack race and greased pig chase were canceled because of the weather. The rain dwindled, though, and loyal fans and players worked to make the Ten Acres ball field ready for the 4 competition. Advertised as a real battle between Osawatomie and Paola for the title in a three-game series, the game brought out the crowd. They were not disappointed. After trailing Paola for eight innings, the home team caught fire and won, 6-5.
The crowds for all events were smaller than expected because of the rain but, in all, with the fireworks and the dancing that evening, 1,200 people attended.
The Hall was used heavily over subsequent years as a meeting place, concert hall, teen town and even the first senior center. In 1982, the local PRIDE committee organized to complete needed renovations, both inside and outside the building.
The centerpiece of that effort remained the original marble slabs inside the building on the north wall. Those contained the names of all Osawatomie residents who had served during the war. Those who had died in service were marked with gold stars. A later donation completed that list of names, making the building truly a memorial. The PRIDE efforts were funded by city, county and individual donors whose names appear on another plaque. Many of those donors were part of the crowd that assembled to honor restoration efforts on January 16, 1983. Though OHS Alumni members have repainted the interior and completed several other improvements since, there has not been another celebration.
During the 37 years since the last major restoration, the building, used now more than ever, including as both municipal court and city council meeting place…”
As of January 2021, plans are in motion to rededicate the building at its 100th birthday this summer!