The picturesque Square — a Paola gem
My eyes widen as I set sight on the Park Square in Paola Kansas. I wonder, am I standing on the corner of classic Americana?
The answer’s a resounding Uh-huh! before I complete the thought.
As by now the thought is consumed by “Currier & Ives” lithographs and Normal Rockwell paintings. Both known in their day for capturing glimpses of ideal American culture. Images that now refer to bygone times.
Yet here I behold one in reality. I gaze at a city block dedicated to trees and park benches, with two walkways that crisscross through the square, and a gazebo. A Christmas tree stands tall at center.
Streets that flank the square are lined with boutiques, restaurants and other locally owned businesses. Most are closed this late Sunday afternoon. Downtown has a quietude* that is calming and inspiring.
I return over the next few days, meet business owners, Chamber of Commerce staff, and people at the Miami County Historical Museum. And I learn about the Park Square and other Paola gems.
I’ll elaborate on the Park Square history, and on more Paola gems in upcoming articles and VIGNETTES weblog posts.
Yet now I’ll elaborate regarding the Park Square.
A brief background — Indians preserved the Square
In the early 1800’s Indian Tribes that inhabited the Paola area, named it “Peoria Village.” They used the stretch of land that is now Park Square for pony races. By the mid-1800’s “Peoria Village” became named Paola, and drew an inflow of settlers.
In 1855 the Paola Town Company was incorporated. Baptiste Peoria was elected president. He was the chief of the Allied Confederate Indian tribes. These were tribes from different parts of the United States, that were relocated by treaty to this area.
Eventually Baptiste and his tribes were subject to another enforced treaty to move to Oklahoma. He gave the Square to the city, with the provision that no building be built upon it. This to ever* reserve that stretch of land for recreational purposes. If a building were built on this stretch of land, the land would revert back to ownership of his ancestors.
Today, the Paola Park Square has swings and bouncing teeters for kids at two areas, a monument for Veterans on one side, and busts of Baptiste Peoria and his wife, Mary Ann on another. Paola is the Miami County Kansas seat, and while county courthouses tend to be built on the local town square, the courthouse in Paola stands two blocks south.
Streets named for Indian tribes Kaskaskia, Piankashaw, Peoria, Wea (pronounced WEE-ah), Miami and Shawnee cross east-west throughout downtown, with Peoria and Wea flanking the Square. Only a few blocks north is Baptiste Drive that connects downtown to US Highway 169.
In summary …
Yes, standing at the Paola Kansas Park Square, one stands among echoes of Americana.
To view photographs of Paola Town Square, and to see a list of businesses in the vicinity, visit here.
Images provided are snapshots by Jacquee T.