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Fans of East Lawrence 'Wishing Bench' launch crowdsourcing campaign to repair it

The East Lawrence Neighborhood Association has organized a crowdsourcing campaign to pay for repairs to the Wishing Bench, pictured here at its home near Ninth and Delaware streets in East Lawrence. After nearly 10 years, some portions of the bench's wooden base have rotted away, while other planks have become warped and unstable, neighbors say.

How the Wishing Bench arrived at its perch isn’t quite clear. Lane Eisenbart, who lives near the quirky structure’s home at Ninth and Delaware streets, has heard “lots of stories” over the years about the shrine-like creation.

“Everybody loves the Wishing Bench,” says Eisenbart, a longtime East Lawrence resident leading the charge in fundraising efforts to repair the bench after nearly 10 years of wear and tear.

Eisenbart, who serves as coordinator of the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association, launched a crowdsourcing campaign last month to support the project. She and other neighbors are hoping to collect $650 to restore the Wishing Bench’s now rickety and rotted wooden base.

“I think when it was put on that platform, it was untreated wood,” Eisenbart said. “It’s been almost 10 years now, and the wood has just degraded … it’s become unsafe.”

Restoration efforts have been discussed at ELNA board meetings for a few months now, with several well-known East Lawrence figures voicing their support for the project, Eisenbart said.

Artist Dave Loewenstein is one of them.

“I think what’s sort of interesting about this is, this is something that’s beloved in the community, and yet it doesn’t have formal ownership,” says Loewenstein, who lives and works in East Lawrence.

Loewenstein isn’t sure how the Wishing Bench arrived in the area, but his best guess suggests the structure began as a temporary University of Kansas School of Architecture project that eventually was “adopted” by the surrounding neighborhood.

Over the years, people have decorated the bench according to the seasons, leaving various tokens and wishes at its "altar." Recently, the structure has sported holiday-themed knitwear. A Christmas tree also decorated the bench not too long ago.

“Those of us who live over there have seen lots of people enjoying and taking photographs over there, and we want to make sure it keeps going,” says Loewenstein, who describes the bench as a kind of “community trust.”

Eisenbart has a different understanding of the Wishing Bench’s origins — that it was given to the neighborhood nearly 10 years ago by the property’s former owner and the developer of the nearby Hobbs Taylor Lofts, Bo Harris.

However it came to be, the Wishing Bench “means different things to different people,” says Eisenbart. That’s why she’s now calling on the entire community to help repair it.

“For me, it’s almost a spiritual place,” Eisenbart says. “I’m not really a church-going person, but I will often go there (to the bench) when I need a place to think or a place to worry.

“It’s a public place like a church, but it’s also a personal place like a church,” she says.

Eisenbart also said the current property owner, Warehouse Arts District developer Tony Krsnich, has allowed the Wishing Bench to remain at the intersection of Ninth and Delaware streets despite his plans to eventually build a pair of multistory apartment buildings on the site.

“There might be a time when we have to move it,” Eisenbart said of the Wishing Bench, but that’s another discussion for another time.

In the meantime, Eisenbart and her friends are hoping to raise enough money to repair the bench in the spring, when the weather heats up. Eric Jay, an ELNA board member and an owner of East Lawrence’s Struct/Restruct construction company, has already pledged to supervise repairs, Eisenbart said.

So far, as of Wednesday, the Wishing Bench campaign had raised $195 toward its $650 goal. Donations can be made online at www.gofundme.com/wishing-bench-repair-fund.

For more information on ELNA’s efforts, follow the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association on Facebook.

Comments

David Holroyd

Have to beg for money. Some neighbors they are. With that pile of junk, I am sure they could get some stuff from Habitat for Humanity and volunteer labor. SAD!

But why not go to the city commisson or the Arts Center and get a grant...it's free money !

But it is a "wishing bench" and just sit on it and wish.

Meanwhile the MAUSOLEUM sits waiting for a grant and Toni Wheeler said the city had $10,000 for it...and now Stuart Boley is the numbers guy and he can't even get the job done.

Soden didn't get it done, Amyx didn't get it done and now Boley...? Fat chance , he is like the others they go begging for a grant....

I'd give $10 for the bench if the community would recognize Mr. Amyx with it for his service.

Lawrence should be ashamed and if it were anywhere else in town, McCullough's department would be out citing it as blight.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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David Holroyd

Tony Krsnich has sucked enough money from the City HE CAN FIX IT...Just how much did Krsnich suck from Lawrence? I dare someone to come up with the total figures. His tax credits alone were sold for enough he could pay the $650...why pay $650, he has the crafts persons to repair it and he can claim it cost $16,500 and take a donation of his tax return. After all the East Lawrence Neighborhood group is a 501 c isn't it? If not, they should be...or the donors on crowdsourcing can't take a tax donation for their $$$$$$.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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David Holroyd

Is it on city right of way? Is it on private property?

It should have an historic review and environs review. As well as an assesment of the structural soundness of the "thing". An engineering study if you will.

And most of all , if on private property, is it allowed under the zoning and "sign" laws. ?

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Dorothy Hoyt-Reed

David, they aren't asking the city for money. They are doing a crowd sourcing fund raising. If you don't want to donate, then that's your business. Why haven't you started one for the mausoleum. You might have gotten enough donations by now, and not needed any grants. If you don't know how to do the crowd sourcing, then befriend a young person who can teach you how it's done.These are people who are trying to raise the money themselves, instead of waiting for someone else to do it for them. Try it.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Bob Summers

Seriously?

$650?

Good lord. Someone in coveted East Larryville doesn't have a paltry six n half bills to part with to fix this chair?

I carry twice that on my ventures to the Bird.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Kathleen Christian

This is ridiculous. Tear the junk collector down and build a bus hut there and have a bus route go through there. This is not a holy place and to covet it is to worship a false idol. This bench does nothing but collect junk and anyone who think wishes could come out of it has been smoking too much weed. La-La Whoop-whoop. There are more important needs in this town than this eyesore.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Tony Peterson

Bet that not a single negative post here comes from anyone who actually lives in East Lawrence. The Wishing Bench has become something of a landmark in the neighborhood and is used a lot as a background for portrait photography. The reason it's lasted so long is because it's constantly changing and a collective effort. People add and take things from it regularly.

If you don't like it that's fine but there's no need to trash the efforts of individuals raising money for the repairs.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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David Holroyd

Dorothy, I offered a matching gift of $l00 dollars for the mausoleum...don't you recalll...short memory. And anyway the city had according to Toni Wheeler $10,000 toward it. BUT Soden failed to get the job done. Amyx failed to get the job done. Mr. Markus is too busy courting out of town developers like Gllbane who has a record of bribery.

Tony Peterson.....If it is a Wishing Bench...then you go sit on it and wish..

Other areas of town will remember your attitude when the East Lawrence folks don't want something in another area..

If it is a collective effort can't you Tony Peterson have East Lawrence "residents' make a collective donation. INSTEAD of going public to beg.

The Journal World should not have written a story..about it. The bench is news?

If Farmer were still in town he would have a Food Truck festival and raise that much.

Where is the Chamber of Commerce...arent' there members flush enough to "fix" the "bench?.

After all all the money for tourism I should think that the bench would be a tourist attraction.
Maybe Tom Fritzel would donate. He has made enough money from the city..but wait , he can't make hotel decisons...ask Sandy Praeger since she is in charge of the hotel...

Bob Summers is right. East Lawrence cannot raise $650? Then it is true, the folks in east lawrence are poor....seems to indicate that.

tony and dorothy ,could sit on the bench with coffee cans for donations... for that I would donate just to get a picture of them...

Again,,,,is it in the right of way, city right of way. The writer Joanna needs to find out...

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Tony Peterson

The total amount needed for the repairs has already been raised through donations.

5 months, 2 weeks ago

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Kevin Elliott

Just curious as to what makes you think your opinion on this is of any importance? You are not being asked for money, it is not public money, it is a community using a community based approach. Your curmudgeon opinions are, as usual, totally irrelevant. I am really sorry if you feel belittled, it isn't personal, it is just factual, you have no horse in this race so you are just being a busybody, not a valid participant on any level. you are free to rant and spout, but it is pointless. Just saying.

5 months, 2 weeks ago

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