Archive for Saturday, May 24, 2008

Potpourri of specialty shops dot De Soto

May 24, 2008

— Although De Soto's two-block core no longer serves as the town's retail heart, it is home a growing number of specialty shops.

Anchoring the district at the east in Abbott Hall, a community museum containing donated items from the community with a 150-year history.

But the real jewel of the collection is the building itself, a two-story limestone structure built in 1868 by James Abbott. Know in Lawrence for his active role in the Free State cause, Abbott moved to De Soto as an agent to the Shawnee Indians.

Through the years, the building has been the home to the local chapter of the Civil War veterans organization the Grand Army of the Republic and various merchants before being subdivided into apartments and sleeping rooms during the peak production at the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant.

The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. Call Dot Stevens at (913) 583-1212 or visit her at De Soto Flowers and Gifts at West 83rd Street in downtown De Soto.

Two blocks to the west of Abbott Hall is Dean Weller's garage. The garage dating from the early decades of the last century comes complete with a Ford sign of the same vintage.

The garage is neither a museum nor a business, but his "hobby shop" with no set hours, Weller said. Nonetheless, Weller does enjoy talking with those with an appreciation of antique automobiles and respectful of the shop environment that is home to his collection of nine Ford Model A's, a hand-built replica of a Mercer Runabout and other vintage cars.

Four doors to the west at 33041 W. 83rd St. is Gil Rumsey's Gallery. The artist opened the gallery in De Soto late last year to complement an Overland Park store he has had for years. He sells his watercolors, prints and other works of art and offers custom framing. Hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.

A few more doors to the west is Round Trip Imports. The store is filled with pottery, kitchenware, antique furniture, and other objects its owner Mary Lies collects on her frequent trips to Italy.

Many of Lies customers are interior decorators looking for a special piece, but she does welcome walk-in customers. Downtown De Soto is also home to the Bleu Tomato at the corner of Wea and 83rd streets. Co-owner Karen Mitchell defined the menu as "America fare with a bit of an eclectic taste."

Those looking for more outdoor activities will find opportunities in De Soto ranging from equestrian trails to access to the Kansas River.

The city completed a concrete boat ramp to the Kansas River two years ago. The ramp is off 79th Street east of downtown via Ottawa Street and can be accessed from the west from the Edgerton Road exit on Kansas Highway 10. The city of De Soto is currently constructing the first phase of the De Soto Riverfest Park immediately to the east of the boat ramp. It is to be finished in October.

The 3-mile long Kill Creek Streamway Park can be accessed from 95th Street at 33460 W. 95th St. just south of Kansas Highway 10 or at two locations in De Soto. The most convenient access point in town is at the eastern-most Lexington Avenue-Commerce Drive about a mile north of K-10.

The trail hugs the western bank of Kill Creek, with the walkway passing under K-10 and 95th Street. The 95th Street access has restrooms, shelter, drinking fountain and an off-lease dog area.

The Johnson County Parks and Recreation District plans to connect the streamway later this year to Kill Creek Park. The 880-acre park is about 3 miles south on Homestead Road. It can be reached from K-10 by taking the Kill Creek Road exit south to 115th Street and then turning west about 1/2 mile to Homestead Road.

The newest of Johnson County three developed parks, Kill Creek Park also gets far fewer visitors than Shawnee Mission or Heritage regional parks. Kill Creek Park has a 28-acre lake that is available for fishing and has a marina and swimming area with bathhouse open from Memorial Day weekend through Aug. 12.

Kill Creek has 17 miles of hiking, bike and equestrian trails and four shelters.

Finally, the 60-acre Sunflower Nature Park offers a nature trail, fishing pond and shelter. Developed on property that was once part of the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant, the park is near the plant's four landmark towers south of K-10 near just east of the intersection of Edgerton Road and 103rd Street.

Information on shelter rental at all three parks is available by calling (913) 831-3359 or online at


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