Kansas House Advances Last Chance Store Bill

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By John Celock

The Kansas House of Representatives advanced legislation to allow the state Historical Society to acquire a piece of history.

The House gave preliminary approval Tuesday morning to allow the Historical Society to acquire the Last Chance Store in Council Grove. The store was the last supply store along the Santa Fe Trail and has been maintained in a variety of uses since the 1850s in Council Grove.

“The Historical Society wants to accept the gift to them but does not have the statutory authority,” Rep. Susan Concannon (R-Beloit) said as she was presenting the bill on the House floor.

Concannon explained that the building was the last time travelers along the Santa Fe Trail would have the ability to buy supplies and developed a historical reputation from that role. Since the 1850s the building has been used for a variety of uses including as a post office and a polling place.

The Historical Society plans to keep the building in its 1850’s state with no running water, electricity or gas, according to Concannon. She explained that with another historic site in Council Grove, the Historical Society has those facilities on site.

Concannon said that by adding an additional property to its portfolio in Council Grove, the Historical Society does not see a cost rise.

Rep. Annie Tietze (D-Topeka) endorsed the bill by noting the existing historical presence in Council Grove. The Morris County community is home to the state’s oldest continuously operating restaurant, Hays House, which is also the oldest continuously operating restaurant west of the Mississippi River.

“If you have been to Council Grove there are numerous places to visit with regards to history,” Tietze said. “This is one more place that ties it together. It is a wonderful idea.”