City Hall

Here’s one more building from downtown Manchester, Kansas, where my husband’s grandparents lived their whole married lives. Lonnie remembers the building as a church with a steeple and stairs in the front, but it appears to be the city hall. I don’t know if it is currently in use, because so many buildings in the downtown have been abandoned. It was a sad trip down memory lane.

More on Main Street

This is downtown Manchester, Kansas- Main Street. Although there are some small farms and homes within walking distance of these old buildings, the tiny downtown is becoming a ghost town. My husband remembers the building on the left as a hardware store and the telephone company on the right. Out of the frame is what remains of a building his grandfather owned- all that is left is the crumpled metal awning lying amidst the rubble.

My husband’s grandparents died in 1982, and I had only driven through the town once since then. In searching for photos of what Manchester used to look like, I came across a wonderful website-

The website is run by photojournalist Vincent Johnson who is documenting the abandoning of rural America. There is a photo of Manchester’s Main Street on the home page- taken maybe ten years ago. The buildings in my photo can be seen as well as Lonnie’s grandfather’s building next door. You can explore Vincent’s excellent photographs of America’s abandoned towns state by state on the website. My genealogist heart loves this project, although it makes me sad.

Kansas Memories

We have just returned from Kansas, where we took some time to visit the remains of the very small farm community where my husband’s grandparents lived and his father was raised. My husband’s family drove to this little town every week for Sunday dinner, and Lonnie spent weeks there during summer vacations. He knew almost every inch of town- and most of its inhabitants.

The grandparents both passed away in the early 1980’s, and since then much of the town has seen a terrible decline. The last time we drove by, we noted that their front porch was sagging and was coming away from the house. This time, we saw that the old farmhouse had burned to the ground, and only the garage remained. The downtown buildings are either gone or falling apart. Yet, in some parts of town you can see that people are still living- like on this road where there seems to be enough traffic to warrant a lopsided stop sign.