First City Museum is firmly committed to the local history of Leavenworth, KS. And that commitment becomes quite obvious when someone enters the door of this museum. Inside is a diverse, yet cohesive, array of exhibits, displays, collections, and collectibles -- more than one thousand! -- that tell a balanced story of Leavenworth, the first city incorporated in the then-new State of Kansas in 1854. Here’s a brief summary of what a visitor will find:
Prison Industry Exhibits
More than 1,100 square feet is dedicated to showplace the overall incarceration background of Leavenworth. Exhibits include: the U.S. Penitentiary, the Discipline Barracks, the Lansing Correctional Facility, the Corrections Corporation of America, and a 10-foot by 12-foot walk-through jail cell from the former Leavenworth County Jail which has been reinstalled in the museum. The jail cell features a hinged cell door, a sliding cell door, two bunk beds, stainless steel sink, mirror, shower, and commode. Also displayed is a section of the visitor’s booth where the inmate and visitor communicated would use a hand-held telephone while being separated by a pane of 1-inch shatterproof glass.
Railroad Industry Displays
A restored 24-foot Kansas Central narrow-gauge boxcar sits in front of the Exhibit Hall East. All metal parts are in place after successful efforts by a volunteer to sandblast and repaint the parts. Very little useable timber was retrieved so the restoration project is used modern lumber where necessary. The boxcar sits atop railroad ties and rails.
Manufacturing Industry Directories and Collectibles
An inspection of our 100-year-old city directories lists dozens of manufacturers that provided freight to the thriving railroad industry -- freight that moved into and out of Leavenworth. One of those manufacturers was the Kramer Manufacturing Company until it ceased to exist in 1972. The museum has a commander’s cupola (the top section) of a Patton tank of which Kramer manufactured a few hundred in the 1960s. It will become the focal point of numerous other manufacturing industries that existed in Leavenworth.
Other Industries Important to Leavenworth
The museum also includes items of interest to those who follow noteworthy people from Leavenworth, and those who enjoy or work in the following:
Public or parochial schools
The banking and insurance industry
The saloon and brewery business
First City Museum Info What: First City Museum Where: 743 Delaware St., Leavenworth, KS 66048 When: Thursday 1:00 PM – 4:30 PM, or by appointment 913-682-1866
Volunteer at First City Museum
The museum is 100% run by volunteers. If you would like information about volunteering a few hours every week or month, please contact us. You’ll find working at the museum a good experience. Working with the public is often rewarding, and our staff is dedicated to making the museum one of Leavenworth's best. Currently we are looking for volunteers that are willing to do numerous jobs. Docents, signage, builders, painters, maintenance - to name a few. If you have the time we will gladly find something for you to help with.