High praise is in order for the Sunflower Foundation, which is rehabbing two prominent buildings on the former Menninger campus in Topeka. While The Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth owns one of the three remaining structures there, the foundation has stepped forward to overhaul the other two as new headquarters and extra office space.
The Sunflower Foundation, which supports health efforts across the state, has had its eye on the former Menninger site for some time.
“It took us a while to find the right plan and design for this,” foundation president and CEO Billie Hall told The Topeka Capital-Journal’s Tim Hrenchir earlier this month. “We also had to make sure our plan fit the financing.”
In honoring the history of Menninger — and its predecessor at the location, the forerunner to Security Benefit — the foundation had a big job. And that’s why the time spent to get the planning and details right was worth it. There’s a statewide and national legacy attached, and sustaining and furthering that inheritance in a sensible way was imperative.
The plans certainly sound impressive. The buildings will be expanded, with an eye toward providing affordable office space and creating a collaborative culture.
And that’s not all. According to Hrenchir’s story, “The facility being developed will also include walking trails and space dedicated to documenting the hill’s history, explaining how the buildings there played a role in shaping health care in Kansas and worldwide, and recognizing donors who supported the renovation project.”
That frankly sounds magnificent. For all of the nonprofits that make Topeka their home, and whose work makes an important difference, seeing the Sunflower Foundation step forward like this for the benefit of the city and state leaves an impression. Their role should be celebrated.
We look forward to seeing what comes of the renovations, and who joins the foundation in the new quarters. Most of all, we look forward to writing a new chapter in the impressive history of Topeka and that iconic hill near S.W. 6th and Wanamaker Road. As important and lasting as the legacy of Menninger was, we must set our eyes on new legacies, new futures, and new accomplishments to benefit us all.
Or as Hall put it to Hrenchir: “When we collaborate, a new energy is created, the best ideas emerge and we achieve better results.”