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Charles Sheldon Study Restoration

Impact Area: Social Equity
Region: Mid West

SCPR Foundation wants to restore Rev. Sheldon’s garden study. Contribute toward the museum and preserve his legacy for future generations.

$11,000 Raised out of $45,000
44 Donors
0 Days Remaining

About this project.

The Shawnee County Parks and Recreation Foundation in Topeka, Kansas, aims to preserve Reverend Charles Sheldon’s garden study through several phases of restorations. Sheldon is best known for his novel In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do? which lead to the coining of the popular phrase used by people of faith. His small study, now located in the west corner of Old Prairie Town, was primarily used by Sheldon to compose sermons, to draft and edit articles for The Topeka Daily Capital (now The Topeka Capital-Journal) and to write novels. It is our hope the restored study will be visited by many to help preserve and promote Sheldon’s legacy and thoughts.

Beyond the restoration, the study will also be updated with the addition of a climate control unit. Our goal is to create a museum-quality site to promote all of Sheldon's messages to the thousands of guests who visit, including area school children and worldwide visitors. The installation of a climate controlled unit will be necessary to preserve Sheldon’s desk and typewriter as well as future artifacts in the new museum that will be donated by his Central Congregational Church.

How will this impact your community?

Preserving and promoting Charles Sheldon’s legacy will draw locals and visitors alike to Old Prairie Town to learn about his work on social equality – work that was relevant in the 1800s and is just as relevant today. This project will reach beyond Shawnee County, Kansas, to remind people both near and far of Sheldon's messages.  With its close proximity to I-70, the project to restore the study will generate and renew an interest in making a stop to visit the Charles Sheldon Study at Old Prairie Town.

The restoration of the monumental site, completed over several phases, will contribute to Topeka’s rich history. Sheldon himself was a Topeka native. It is important to preserve Sheldon’s study because it is the location where he wrote and developed numerous projects highlighting inequalities in society. He even wrote a top-selling novel, “In His Steps,” in 1896. The book has been translated into 23 different languages and has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide.

Sheldon had an impact on generations. Among many notables, he started the first kindergarten west of the Mississippi to allow African American students to attend. This made such an impact that one of these students (Elisha Scott) named a son after him. Charles Sheldon Scott, was that son, and he grew up to be one of the attorneys who argued the historic Brown vs. the Topeka Board of Education case to end segregation in public schools.

Preserving the study and Sheldon's legacy is just the beginning. Artifacts connected to Sheldon are currently being collected and will be placed in the museum-quality study. It is important to showcase his many works and messages to all.

About us!

The Shawnee County Parks and Recreation Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that was formed in 2008. Our mission is to enhance the park and recreation experience in Shawnee County through charitable contributions of time and resources. 

The Friends of Ward Meade, our SCPRF Board of Directors and appointed ex-officio staff wish to see Shawnee County lands and facilities remain first class for many generations to come.

For updates on the project, follow:



"Sheldon's Legacy Lives" https://www.facebook.com/SheldonsLegacyLives/

"Shawnee County Parks & Recreation Foundation"  https://www.facebook.com/Shawnee-County-Parks-Recreation-Foundation-1759624654276060/

"Old Prairie Town at Ward-Meade Historic Site and Botanical Garden"  https://www.facebook.com/OldPrairieTown/

"Shawnee County Parks + Recreation" https://www.facebook.com/ShawneeCountyParksAndRecreation/

-Twitter: @SnCoParksRec

-Instagram: ShawneeCountyParksRec


Phase I:

-Finish roof and exterior wall repairs - Currently in progress

-Install HVAC - Immediately upon donations being secured

-Research interpretive signage and museum displays - Fall/Winter 2017

For the next month, it is our goal to raise $45,000 for the phase one portion of the preservation of Sheldon’s study. Throughout this month, there will be social media posts, media and public engagement, along with other various events to promote the campaign.

Phase II:

-Artifacts preserved - Fall/Winter 2017

-New exhibits/signage installed - Fall/Winter 2017

-Exhibit opens to the public with ribbon cutting ceremony - May 2018

Phase III:

-Identify partners and sponsors to create an endowment fund - Summer 2018

Additional project phases and the establishment of an endowment fund will require a total of $350,000.

Rachel Meyer
Partnership Development Coordina
John Bell
Recreation Program Supervisor
Roger Houck
Friends of Ward-Meade Volunteer

About Rachel Meyer

With a Master of Science in Recreation Administration from Aurora University, Rachel has spent 17 years of her recreation career in various industries from park districts to resorts to senior living communities. In her current position Rachel is an Ex-Officio Board Member of the SCPR Foundation and is enjoying expanding her non-profit knowledge. Please contact Rachel at rachel.meyer@snco.us or call 785.251.6885 for more information about the project or the Shawnee County Parks & Recreation Foundation.

About John Bell

John Bell supervises Old Prairie Town where the Sheldon Study is located. He works closely with Friends of Ward-Meade volunteers who work to make improvements to the historic park through special events and fundraising efforts. John has over 20 years of experience in the recreation field and was named one of Topeka's 20 Under 40 by the Jayhawk Area Council in 2014 for his commitment and contributions both professionally and personally to the Topeka/Shawnee County Community.

About Roger Houck

Roger is a recently transplanted Rhode Islander with an extensive business background. He currently volunteers at Old Prairie Town with the Friends of Ward-Meade. He saw the NRPA's Fund Your Park campaign as a perfect opportunity to preserve and promote Charles Sheldon's legacy worldwide.

November 29, 2017 - Upcoming Program with Laird Kelly

Reverend Sheldon and his Christian Newspaper, the Topeka Daily Capital


After gaining worldwide popularity for his book “In His Steps” the Rev. Dr. Charles Sheldon, a Topeka Congregationalist minister edited the Topeka Daily Capital for one week “As Jesus Would Do”. Circulation jumped from 16,000 to more than 375,000 copies. Join author Laird Kelly who will share the story of Charles M. Sheldon, whose study at Old Prairie Town is being renovated as a museum.


Date:        Feb. 12, 2018     

Time:       7-8 p.m.

Fee:         Free

Location: Old Prairie Town

July 27, 2017 - Great Article by Tim Hrenchir with The Topeka Capital-Journal

Read the article here:


Tim also reported about the Charles Sheldon Study being moved from Gage Park to its current location at Old Prairie Town exactly 31 years prior to this article and our campaign launch party.

July 24, 2017 - Generous Donation!

A huge thank you goes to Cynthia Heath for her generous $5,000 donation which has helped kick start our campaign. Cynthia makes this contribution in honor of her mother, Mercedes Schmidt, who walked in His steps. 

August 10, 2017 - Our Launch Party

Our Launch Party was a great success!  We introduced the crowdfunding campaign to the attendees and media, auctioned rare books signed by Sheldon, displayed artifacts and raised over $1,200 at the event.