Special to The Gardner News
Ensor Park and Museum in Olathe, which hasn’t been open since last October, will be reopening Sept. 4 for what will be an abbreviated 2021 season.
Normally open for tours Saturday and Sunday afternoons in May, June, September and October, the eight-acre site at 18995 W. 183rd Street remained closed this spring due to “some physical deterioration issues” and “concerns about Covid protocols and/or safety,” quoting here from an email Marty Peters, secretary-treasurer of the Santa Fe Trail Amateur Radio Club, sent to club members following a conversation he had had with a City of Olathe Parks and Recreation Department official during the early part of the year.
For the past 15 years the city has owned and operated Ensor Park and Museum, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
But in July the amateur radio club was informed by the city that it had completed its assessment of conditions at the site and was ready to allow the site to reopen to the public.
“I am glad to see the Ensor Museum opening again for tours,” Gardner’s Jim Andera, also a member of the amateur radio club, said recently. “As one who grew up on a farm, driving into the yard of the Ensor farm or stepping into the kitchen of the old farmhouse reminds me in so many ways of my boyhood environment. There is just something tranquil and refreshing about stepping into a farm-life setting. For anyone who did not grow up on a farm, a visit to the Ensor Museum is an opportunity to get a taste of life in a simpler time, and maybe even enjoy a sample of that tranquility.”
Andera went on to mention Marshall Ensor, who spent his teenage and early adult years on the farm and acquired there the woodworking skills and other related skills that would serve him well as a Manual Arts instructor at Olathe High School (now Olathe North High School) for close to 50 years. The south room in the Peg Barn is filled with shop equipment and tools, equipment and tools Ensor used in striving to pass on to his students the valuable skills he possessed.
As a teenager, Ensor took an interest in the emerging field of wireless communication, or radio, and became a licensed amateur radio operator, or ham, in the early 1920s. “From a ham-radio-operator perspective and from an educational perspective, the Ensor Museum is a treasure,” Andera observed. “It shows the creative thinking of Marshall, not only with regard to early radio technology, but also his creativity in teaching ham radio classes over the air in the 1930s. He was a true pioneer, helping to develop the concept of remote learning involving a very large body of students nearly 100 years before our Covid-driven remote-learning experience.”
Ensor’s radio lessons were transmitted from his home-built transmitter in the Radio Room to students across the United States as they sat in their kitchens and living rooms learning about electricity, antennas, radio regulations and the Morse code. “Many of those students became military radio operators and technicians in World War II, contributing to the Allies winning the war and helping us preserve the freedom we enjoy today,” Andera said.
Members of the Santa Fe Trail Amateur Radio Club will be leading the tours at Ensor Park and Museum in September. In October, that duty will fall upon the shoulders of members of the Johnson County Radio Amateurs Club.
The site will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free, but freewill donations are gladly accepted.
For additional information, visit www.ensorparkandmuseum.org.