Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New Exhibit at the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum: City on the Plains: A Look at Abilene Architecture

The Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum is pleased to announce a new exhibit highlighting the architecture of Abilene.  The exhibit, City on the Plains: A Look at Abilene Architecture, will be featured now through January 9 at the museum. 

Abilene has had a varied history, and was originally settled by Timothy and Elizabeth Hersey in 1857 along the bank of Mud Creek.  The area saw some growth, with a few brave settlers deciding to build homes near the Hersey stagecoach stop.  It was not until 1867 though, that the community saw substantial growth.  That year, a man named Joseph G. McCoy came to the area and decided to build a shipping point for Texas longhorn cattle.  Abilene quickly became the first Kansas cattle town and saw much growth over the next four years.  After Abilene’s cattle town days were over in 1872, the city saw a sharp decline in business.  Many stores that catered their wares to the cowboys moved elsewhere.  However, Abilene slowly began to grow again and develop into the town that it is today.

Many homes and business buildings that continue to stand in Abilene today were constructed close to the turn of the twentieth century.  Buildings such as the Seelye Mansion, Lebold Mansion, Shockey and Landis building, Sunflower Hotel, Union Pacific Depot, and United Telephone building made their mark on Abilene history and serve as reminders of the past to this day.  While this is the case for many historic buildings in Abilene, there are several that no longer remain. 

The Belle Springs Creamery was a staple of the community for several years, providing customers with a place to purchase milk, butter, ice cream, cheese, and ice.  Another historic piece of Abilene architecture was the Henry House, also known as the Union Pacific Depot and Hotel, a multi-level central hub for the community.  There were many other such buildings that no longer exist in Abilene: the Plaza Theater, Vacu-Blast Dome, C.W. Parker Amusement Factory, Toothpick building, original City Hall, and various residences.  As times change, so do the buildings that form a community, however photographs do remain as a reminder of what happened before.

While the Jeffcoat Studio primarily worked in portrait photography during their business days of 1921 to 2007, they did take many pictures of the Abilene community and the buildings that make up the “city on the plains.”  The Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum’s photography exhibit, City on the Plains: A Look at Abilene Architecture, will feature the images and stories of many of the community’s historic buildings.

The Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum is located at 321 N. Broadway St. in Abilene, and is open Monday and Tuesday 9:00am-4:00pm, and by appointment any day of the week.  For more information about the museum, or to schedule a private viewing, please call (785) 263-9882, or find the museum on Facebook at

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