History of the Liberty Memorial BuildingLiberty Memorial Central Middle SchoolFormerly Central Junior High School, Liberty Memorial High School
Liberty Memorial High School - completed in 1923, the building has served as a monument to the Lawrence High School students and graduates whose lives were cut short by World War I. Three hundred young people from Lawrence fought in the war, 144 which had not graduated from high school yet. Nineteen of these students were killed; six in France and others from disease either home or "over there.". Six high school girls became nurses; two did not return.Old High - built in 1889 at 9th and Kentucky, Old High was severely overcrowded with three times the maximum occupancy. It was also in the heart of the business district. The bell in the steeple is reminiscent of Lawrence's first high school in the Unitarian church.
Bell -This bell, purchased by the Unitarian Church in the early 1800's, is presently mounted at LHS. The bell was cast in New England, and they shipped the bell to the Gulf of Mexico to be sent up the Mississippi by boat. However, before it arrived at the Gulf the ship wrecked and the bell sat on the ocean floor for three years. It was eventually recovered and sent to Kansas City. By then, the Civil War was on the verge of breaking out and Lawrence was an intense hot spot. The bell was hidden in a horse-drawn hay wagon and sneaked into Lawrence where it was mounted in the Unitarian Church. Since then it has been passed down to each new high school. It was moved to its present location in 1976.School Board - Superintendent H.P. Smith observed the need for some sort of monument to commemorate the deceased and came up with a brilliant scheme to solve the overcrowding problem at Old High. In 1919, the board decided to build a "functional monument in grand style." Pictured are the school board members - Hosford, Pine, Hill, Kirchoff, Boynton and Guisea.Cornerstone - $16,500 was the price for the plot of land south of town. The building construction cost was $500,000 and $70,000 was spent on furnishing it. Architect Raymond Ittner from St. Louis designed the building. "...to provide the highest possible educational service, safety, successful lighting, ventilation and sanitation; wide community uses, expansion for future requirements, beauty and utility." (Ittner)Front of Building - The building was dedicated on August 27, 1923, the fifth anniversary of the American defense in the Argonne. Three tablets were presented: The Grand Army of the Republic (Civil War Veterans) was presented by General Theodore Gardner; the Daughters of the American Revolution, represented by Mrs. Joseph W. Murray, presented the plaque bearing the American Creed; George O. Foster, Registrar at the University of Kansas presented two plaques with names of LMHS graduates who were killed during the war. The name plaques are still on display in the memorial auditorium.The outside of Liberty Memorial holds many symbolic figures such as men in military garb, and grain shocks in the keystone of the middle arch represents Kansas as the Wheat State.When built, the building had the capacity of 1,100 students. On the first day of school in fall of 1923, 680 students attended. (184 seniors, 192 juniors 222 sophomores and 77 freshmen). Josephine Kline, a senior at that time wrote, "My first impression of the new high school was that of a vast, seemingly unlimited space; strange and bewildering. The halls seemed endless-like the streets of town, so wide and long they appeared to me." When the school first opened, 27 classes were offered including: domestic arts, ethics, manual training and normal training.Auditorium - The auditorium is the most important part of the memorial as it was planned as a memorial hall, for the entire community to use.
The auditorium boasts 1500 seats - it was the largest in the state when it was built.Poem - Above the stage is the state emblem with poem by Rudyard Kipling selected by teacher Miss Kate Riggs to remind all who read it of the sorrows of war:
All that they had they gave - they gavein sure and singe faithThere can be no knowledge reach the graveTo make them grudge their deathSave only if they understoodThat, after all was doneWe the redeemed denied their bloodAnd mocked the gains it won.
The plaques presented by George Foster were donated by more than 600 alumni and parents of students.
This left plaque bears the names: Max Brown, Aretus McClure, Clark McColloch, John tupper, Sgt. Willford Charlton, Corp. Everett Demeritt, Corp. Ralph Ellis, Lieutenant Mark Beach, and Lieutenant Chas Cone.
The right plaque bears the names: Cromwell Tucker, Thomas Kennedy, Jr., Ross Rummell, Theodore Rocklund, Corp. Glen Otis, Lieutenant Otto Dingelstedt, Lieutenant Harry Ziesenis, Lieutenant Eli F. Dorsey, and Lieutenant Herbert Jones. Also note the American Legion Symbol on the ventilation screen.
Stained Glass - Eighteen beautiful stained glass windows made in Belgium; they were donated by an early 1930's class. The windows represent the regiments of the 18 honored men. There is a window with the regiment crest of the six men killed in action in France. The six windows are spread out - one in the middle of each of the six sets of three. The left window of each set is identical. There are a total of eight different designs representing the regiments of the 18 honored men.
Lights in Auditorium - All the lights in the Auditorium ceiling are wreathed with bay laurel. The Ancient Romans put bay laurel crowns on their heroes.Library - Originally, the library could house 5,000 volumes. The library expanded to the south and claimed a former study hall for the current Fiction Room. The current library holds 9,000 books and 36 computers, and an impressive art collection.
Gym - The original gymnasium (Duver gym) had room for 700 spectators. Previously student travel to Haskell for school games. This gym was renovated Fall 2006 and now houses the music departments, the hardwood floor was retained.
Tennis Court -Old Church - Until the 1940s behind the main building was an old church used as a study hall and print shop. The journalism students produced a bi-monthly paper, The Budget. The tennis court sits in the footprint of the old church.
Original text by Alison Smith for 75th Anniversary modified by Charlotte Anderson for webpage 2/8/2007, Laura Leonard 11/7/14