The objective of the Burlingame Historical Preservation Society, Inc. will be to preserve and maintain the Burlingame area history, oral and written, buildings, Santa Fe Avenue, historical sites and artifacts, and make it available to the public to further their education and knowledge of the Burlingame community and its history.
It was the spring of 2001 when the Schuyler Elementary School was vacated due to the scheduled Fall opening of the newly completed elementary school. Schuyler School was built in 1902 on the site of the first Osage County courthouse and had served as the Burlingame community’s elementary school for nearly a century.
Seven individuals shared a common concern for the future of the historic school and clearly wanted it to remain intact. So it was that Kurt Kessinger, Kathy Kraus, Karen Smart, Carolyn Strohm, Mitzi Patterson, Sheila Curtis and Dennis Klumpe came together to form the non-profit organization known as the Burlingame Historical Preservation Society (BHPS). Their vision was to preserve and celebrate the history of Burlingame and surrounding area by transforming Schuyler school into a free museum and repository for artifacts and local history.
This was the beginning of the journey, and over the course of the next year, the non-profit organization was established, money was donated, the building was purchased, repairs and minor renovations were completed, artifacts were received and a membership drive was launched. Many individuals and businesses eagerly donated their expertise and many hours of time to accomplish the necessary tasks. The Burlingame Schuyler Museum’s Grand Opening was celebrated on June 22, 2002 with two modest rooms of displays.
Soon a research room was established in the museum and continues to grow. Resources include most of the Osage County tax assessment records for 1872 to 1930, criminal record index, cemetery interments, county marriage index, high school yearbooks, funeral service folders, contributed family histories and an obituary collection. A vertical file of various topics and individuals is also available, as well as some church and organization records and publications on the history of the area and county. Although not for general public use because of age, bound volumes of old Burlingame newspapers have been loaned by Kathy Kessinger and the current owners of the Osage County Herald-Chronicle, Chris and Amy Faimon. Email requests and personal visits from researchers from several states have been received. It is such a joy to meet and assist visitors whose names of interest are those that have long since disappeared from the community. Even Anson Burlingame’s relatives have contacted us and visited.
Today the museum consists of ten overflowing display rooms. Artifacts are added on a regular basis and some displays are rotated. Class composite photographs beginning in the 1940’s line the central hallway. Local photos taken by Allen Community College photography students are displayed each semester. One classroom houses an extensive military memorabilia exhibit. A restored 1938 fire engine truck is on loan from the Burlingame Fire Department, displayed along with other fire department items in another exhibit room. Native American artifacts, including the extensive arrowhead collection of Robert “Swede” and Shirley Masters are on exhibit. Other displays include items from Dr. Fred Schenck’s office and Patterson’s grocery store. A bed and other personal items belonging to long-time elementary teacher Miss Pearl White has found a nook. A selection of household items, furniture, toys, photos, grange history and farming related items, coal mining relics and school related memorabilia also contribute their part in revealing our local history.
Car clubs, care homes, day travel groups and individuals, former residents, descendants of former residents and school groups are among those who have scheduled reservations to visit the museum. Travelers have come from nearly all 50 states, many areas of Kansas and several foreign countries to visit.
BHPS proudly supports and participates in the community’s annual events in the spring and winter and was instrumental in coordinating the 150th anniversary celebration of Burlingame in 2004.
Beyond the community’s annual events, we have strived to become an important asset and leader in the community and provide educational opportunities in addition to the history the museum itself provides. Our presence and events bring into the community visitors who would not otherwise come and many who spend a few dollars within the community while here.