Atchison County Memorial Building

Atchison County Memorial Building

(Rock Port) -- Atchison County residents celebrate the renovation of a historic building this weekend.

Rededication ceremonies for the Atchison County Memorial Building take place Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. Janet Griffin is a member of the Atchison County Memorial Building Foundation's Board of Directors--the organization spearheading the venerable building's rejuvenation. Griffin retraced the building's origins on a recent edition of KMA's "Morning Routine" program. Griffin says the building was constructed in 1921 after the county received one of the first thousand-dollar grants from the state of Missouri to building a lasting memorial to the veterans of World War I.

"They decided they didn't just want to put up a memorial, but a building," said Griffin, "that would be a living memorial for the citizens of Atchison County, to have like a gymnasium, and an auditorium with a stage, so that it could be used for many, many years, and many different aspects of community life."

Among other things, the building was used for Rock Port school activities.

"They used it for all their school functions, plays and dances, any many different kinds of school activities," she said. "But, it was also used as a roller rink, and monthly, orchestras came in--including Lawrence Welk. When I talked to older citizens of the county, they said they can remember coming as young people, and looking forward to these dances, because they met other kids from other towns, too."

In addition to professional wrestling and stage shows, the building was also the site of Atchison County Fair events, offices for state and federal agencies, as well as the home for the county's Ralph Greer American Legion Post #49. Griffin says the first building repair efforts took place in the 1980's, after the facility showed signs of deterioration.

"We've been chunking things off a little at a time," said Griffin, "made sure all the bricks were chinked and cleaned--everything patched on the outside. We moved inside on phase two, with electrical work. That building didn't have a firescape. We made it all code-safe, put in an elevator. Nothing had been done, though, cosmetically. She still looked like she did back in the '70's--so, she looked pretty rough."

Thanks to additional funding, Griffin says phase three of the renovation process--involving the structure's exterior--was completed earlier this year.

"We've had options, we've had MAP (Monetary Award Program) grants from the government, we've had donations," she said. "All of these things kind of trickling in. We've been able to keep a little bit of things going. And just this year, we were able to come together for the last phase of it, which was the cosmetic phase of it."

Guided tours of the facility--located on Main Street in Rock Port--are from 2-to-5 p.m.