Crews tear down Merriam community center, find time capsule inside

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MERRIAM, Kan. — While construction crews tore down the Irene B. French Community Center off of Merriam Drive, they found a time capsule hidden inside. 

The community center was built in 1911, and at that time it was an elementary school.

The time capsule had a written roll call of the first kids to attend the school, and a book on laws for common schools in Kansas published in 1909. 

Several years later, the elementary school became the first campus for Johnson County Community College.

It eventually became the community center in 1989. 

But in recent years, it became more expensive to maintain this building as floodwaters caused a lot of damage. There were 19 sump pumps, which failed to keep all of the water out. 

“It’s a really cool old building. It has a lot of history in our community, the architecture is really interesting, it felt like maybe something we needed to put some thought into, but once you got inside the building there was a lot of damage,” Meredith Hauck, Assistant City Administrator, said. “They didn’t make decisions 50 years ago that would allow us to keep it.”

Merriam recently built a new community center nearby, and are no longer using this building.

After crews tear it down, it will be replaced with a park and amphitheater.

The artifacts found in the time capsule now sit behind glass at the Merriam Visitor’s Center for all to see. 

City officials decided to put their own time capsule in the cornerstone of the new community center. 

Not wanting to disappoint people 100 years from now when they find it, they put in many more artifacts so people in 2120 can better see what life was like for us today. 

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