Special to the Gardner News
Gardner’s past is rich with historical events that many residents aren’t aware of, according to Mica Marriott. Marriott, who also works for The Gardner News, was in charge of planning the Gardner Historic Downtown Walking Tour as part of the Festival on the Trails.
The tour, sponsored by the Gardner Historical Museum, will give walkers a look into the past of downtown Gardner and of both the buildings still standing and those that have long since been demolished.
“It’s similar to the cemetery walking tour, except instead of just talking about people, we’re talking about places, too,” Marriott said.
Marriott recounted that many events in connection with the Civil War took place in Gardner. The city was raided three times by Missouri Bushwhackers, and many of its buildings were destroyed by fire, including an armory.
Along with those touched by the Civil War, the tour will include other structures and homes with past importance and significance.
“We’ll talk about when some of the buildings were built, who they were built by and their prominence in Gardner’s history,” Marriott said.
Some of the buildings to be reviewed include Bruce Funeral Home and First Baptist Church in addition to places that exist only in memory, such as the Gardner Bowling Alley.
Not only will tourists learn about the structures in downtown Gardner, they’ll also learn about the people whose pasts are tucked inside. Some of these people include Leonard Sebring, an employee of Walt Disney and the artist and animator of Snow White; Harold Sebring, a Florida Supreme Court justice who was present at the Nuremburg Trials of German war criminals after World War II; and actor Buddy Rogers’ father, who taught the first graduating class of Gardner High School.
Tour guides will also discuss Gardner’s role as the final place ‘before the trails divided’- a place where pioneers made the decision of whether to follow the Santa Fe, California or Oregon Trail on to new lives.
“Come walk back in time with us,” Marriott said.
Tours will take place at 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 12 during the Festival on the Trails.
The tours will start from the northwest corner of Elm and Main Streets. Admission is free.