McPherson, Kan. — Construction workers have begun tearing down the various wings of the old Cedars home on East Kansas Avenue.
Thane Withrow, who has been leading demolition work at the site, said efforts to tear down the building have been under way since October of last year.
The entire site should be leveled by the beginning of April, with the remaining wings torn down in the next week or two.
Fire personnel and equipment have frequently been seen at the property in recent months, prompting many area residents to fear something had gone wrong in the demolition process.
McPherson Museum Director Carla Barber said everything was fine — the property was volunteered for fire department training.
“We’ve been letting them practice in there for a while now,” Barber said.
The site’s structures must be removed to make way for the new McPherson Museum, which will be constructed on the site.
McPherson, Kan. — On March 3, The Sentinel published a short article discussing the demolition of the former Cedars home on East Kansas Avenue.
Included with the article was a picture depicting a cross on the ground, leaning against a wall among the wreckage of the destroyed building.
That cross, which used to hang in The Cedars chapel, now has a new congregation.
Carla Barber, executive director of the McPherson Museum and Arts Foundation, received several calls after the article ran from individuals concerned that the cross was to be thrown away. Barber said she had contacted The Cedars to see if they wanted the cross, but after being turned down decided to put it into storage until a suitable home could be found.
“It was just sitting there for a day or two while they got ready to take it to store at the ReUse It Center,” Barber said.
But callers pressed Barber, upset at what appeared to be a cross waiting to be thrown away.
“Lots of people called,” she said. “It upsets people when there’s a cross on the ground.”
One such caller was McPherson resident June Switzer. She and her husband, Edwin, are members of Community Church of the Brethren in Hutchinson. They, too, thought it a shame for the cross to be sitting in the abandoned Cedars building and, after the situation was explained by Barber over the phone, received permission to take it for their church.
“We saw it in the paper,” Edwin said. “We knew it came out of the chapel.”
“And,” he said, “we knew Vernon had a connection to the original chapel.”
They were right. Vernon Hornbaker, another member of Community Church of the Brethren, knew the chapel and its cross well. His mother and father, Laura H. and Vernon W. Hornbaker, provided The Cedars a gift of $30,000 to spur the chapel’s construction in 1964.
A big memento
Long before the Cedars opened on East Kansas Avenue, Pleasant View Church of the Brethren maintained the home at its former location in Darlow, a now-extinct town south of Hutchinson.
Hornbaker lived close to the original Cedars as a child and, with his parents and 12 siblings, often helped take care of its inhabitants.
Pleasant View Church eventually closed, its members largely absorbed by Community Church of the Brethren in Hutchinson. The home moved to McPherson and the Hornbakers made their large donation to bring a chapel — and, consequently, a cross — to the Cedars.
After reading about the demolition of the chapel, Hornbaker said he traveled to McPherson to try and find some sort of memento to keep with him.
“I wanted to find something to remember it by,” Hornbaker said, “but all I could find was a brick.”
He returned to Hutchinson discouraged, only to hear later from the Switzers the cross would soon be in his church.
It has not made its way to Hutchinson yet — Edwin has been restoring the cross in his garage, wiping away the dirt of a demolition site and replacing its worn veneer.
And even when it arrives, Edwin said he is not sure where it will wind up in the sanctuary.
But, because of his church’s connection to the Cedars and because of Vernon, Edwin knows that it is where it belongs — with family.
“With our tie to the Cedars,” he said, “we just have to do something with it.”