Step beyond the doorway

6/18/2014

By ASHLEY BOOKER

By ASHLEY BOOKER

abooker@gctelegram.com

Step beyond the red 1884 door that leads into the William Fulton House, and you take a giant step back in Garden City time. Glide through the living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and parlor and you will glimpse intriguing moments of history that go back to one of the city's four founding fathers.

After stepping inside, the parlor is located to the right. You can read about the four founding fathers and the early-days of Garden City, which originated in 1879, just five years before Fulton built his home.

The Fulton House is located southwest of the Finney County Historical Museum, and tours of the house are now open until mid-August, from 2-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. They are free to the public. The only day it's closed is Saturday, July 12, for the Flea Market, Art, Craft and Antique Festival held in Finnup Park that day.

"The house, along with a lot of other artifacts that we have in the museum, is a tangible link to the past," said Steve Quakenbush, executive director of the Finney County Historical Society.

This two-porch Folk Victorian-style home is 130 years old, and before being relocated to Finnup Park in 2003, it sat south of Garnand Funeral Home on Seventh Street. It was occupied until then. The grand opening of the Fulton house was July 4, 2005, and tours have been given every summer since.

Gunnner Hebrlee will be giving the tours of William and Luticia Fulton's home this year. The soon-to-be sophomore of Garden City High School gave his first tour last Saturday.

Twenty-five people visited on Saturday, and another 65 visited on Sunday, Hebrlee said. His favorite part is sharing the history of this historic house with its visitors.

"It's really interesting when people are walking through and seeing the house," Hebrlee said. "It's a lot of fun, it really is."

Hebrlee has been studying the history of the Fulton House every spare moment he has. He's studied about 20 hours so far, and even though he's only given one weekend of tours, he knows his forensics skills have helped him engage with the house's visitors.

He has an inviting aura about him, and the way that he explains the history of the Fultons is just as full of life.

His favorite piece of information thus far is that William Fulton hired John Stevens, and then, soon after Garden City was founded, Stevens married Fulton's daughter, Ciddie, Hebrlee said, laughing at the situation.

The home is surrounded by gardens that resemble flowers that would have been planted in the 19th century, like hollyhocks, daisies and irises, The furniture within the house resembles what would have been used every day in that period. Quakenbush says there isn't even one piece of furniture that belonged to the Fultons inside the house. If anyone believes they have furniture from the Fultons, he'd be very interested in seeing it and possibly using it for the house.

History surrounds not only everything about this house, but also the artifacts inside the Finney County Historical Museum.

The museum is under renovations, and Quakenbush just knows after the renovations are done its visitors are going to have an even greater museum experience. In the meantime, he hopes museum visitors will bear with the saw horses, barriers and a few closed exhibits. Even though the renovations are underway, the museum will continue to be open during its regular hours. The work is to be finished this summer, Quakenbush says.

A few elements of the renovation are already done, like the relocation of the Santa Fe Trail Exhibit, and the exhibit recognizing the Finney County Pioneer Award Families.

"We have a lot of, I'm not calling it dust, I'm calling it trail dust in the museum," Quakenbush said, laughing.

The largest part of the renovation is the Spirit of the Plains Gallery, which shows cultural history going back thousands of years before settlement in Garden City.

The museum has doubled the size of their Front Door Gallery, by moving it south. The Front Door Gallery is changed about every other month.

In the Front Door Gallery's old location they are going to create a small visitor's center, where people can use a pin to place on a map where they are visiting from. Brochures will also be available here — possibly about the Historical society, the museum, Garden City, Finney County, the Lee Richardson Zoo, Chamber of Commerce and other attractions.

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