Fort Scott, Kansas (September 16, 2014)—By a vote of 5-0, Fort Scott City Commissioners have approved the transfer of land at the corner of Wall and Main streets to the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes to construct a new 6,000 square foot exhibit hall.
According to Heather Griffith, Director of Economic Development, “The Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes is truly one of the great assets of Fort Scott and enriches our entire community. We at the City fully support the Center’s mission to educate our youth through the powerful stories of unsung heroes who change the world. We are dedicated to the growth of the Center as it expands its mission worldwide. A new exhibit hall in the heart of downtown Fort Scott will be a great contributor to the revitalization of our Main Street.”
The Lowell Milken Center (LMC) for Unsung Heroes is an international education nonprofit that discovers, develops and communicates the stories of individuals in history who have made a profound and positive impact on the lives of others. Through a unique project-based learning approach, LMC works with students and educators across diverse academic disciplines to develop history projects that take the form of student-driven plays, documentaries, exhibits and websites to highlight role models who demonstrate courage, compassion and respect. By championing Unsung Heroes, students, educators and communities discover their own power and responsibility to effect positive change.
Since its inception in 2007, LMC has reached over 1,000,000 students and 7,320 schools in all 50 states, with growing global reach. In addition, LMC’s Fort Scott headquarters have hosted visitors from every state and 68 countries, demonstrating the truly universal relevance of its mission. The prestigious Lowell Milken Center Fellowship Program attracts award-winning educators for a unique summer program of professional development, and has grown from two LMC Fellows in 2008 to over forty in 2015.
LMC is located in the historic downtown district of Fort Scott, a community that shares common values with LMC, including the recognition of the importance of teaching and honoring the lessons of history. Due to the growth and momentum experienced over the past eight years as well as rising demand for its services, LMC has outgrown its current headquarters, located at 2-4 South Main Street. It is thus embarking on an exciting expansion to accommodate a vibrant future.
With a commitment to the revitalization of Fort Scott, LMC contracted Susan Richards Johnson & Associates, Inc. (SRJA), an architectural firm with ties to Fort Scott, to design a new, single story building located on the prominent corner of Main and Wall Streets. The building will be placed on the site of a vacant lot where, in 2005, a devastating fire led to the loss of seven historic structures and damaged many more properties, making a significant impact on the character-defining elements of Main Street’s historic core. The site has been vacant for the past nine years. Out of the ashes will grow a truly global educational institution, broadening Fort Scott’s reach to the rest of the world.
In keeping with its unique historic context, SRJA generated a timeless design that situates the building so as to create a harmonious “edge” to the block. South of the building, the site will feature green space for the city. Plans feature masonry walls harmonious with the architectural language of the downtown with high parapets to keep the height consistent with surrounding buildings. Expansive storefront will be used to connect with the public, street and adjacent green space. The interiors will contain exhibit gallery space, offices, and meeting facilities. The exhibit area will accommodate Unsung Heroes displays with multimedia capabilities as well as a small theater for student-driven performances.
From its Kansas location close to Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma, Fort Scott is at the crossroads of America’s heartland. LMC is deeply involved with the Fort Scott community as well as organizations and schools throughout the region, and will continue to work with the city to generate interest in Fort Scott as a place for business and destination point for visitors.
As LMC Executive Director Norm Conard – a 1992 Milken Educator Award recipient and National Teachers Hall of Fame inductee – says, “A passion for education has always been the cornerstone of our work. Our vision and goal for the new facility is to continue having a profound impact on American education as we expand the reach of our work from Fort Scott to the world.”
“In every endeavor, people make the difference, and just one person has the power to make a profound difference in the lives of so many people.” - Lowell Milken