Want to help rebuild the Wishing Bench? Here’s how to get involved

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Just a day after East Lawrence awoke to find its beloved Wishing Bench burnt and devastated, the phoenix has begun to rise from the ashes.

Informally, locals have begun to redecorate the bench, which was destroyed by a fire overnight Sunday. A sign that read “Sit and make a wish. You will not be disappointed” has been replaced. Another small sign reads, “There is nothing wrong with you ♡ Shine on you crazy diamond!” Other items placed there include a painting, flowers, an office chair, a plant, a sock and a license plate.


More formally, however, plans are already in the works to rebuild the nostalgic landmark, and this time, it will include a ramp to allow wheelchair access from the sidewalk, according to an East Lawrence Neighborhood Association Facebook post on Monday.

“With gratitude in our hearts, East Lawrence Neighborhood Association (ELNA) acknowledges the outpouring of grief and love from across the community in the wake of Sunday’s fire at the beloved Wishing Bench at 9th & Delaware, and vandalism of the Art Box at 9th & Pennsylvania,” the post began.

“We appreciate your generous offers of money, materials, artwork, time, talent and ideas so together we can build back the Wishing Bench to be more resilient and accessible than ever before,” it continued. “ELNA will be engaging with interested stakeholders in the coming days and weeks to do just that.”

Donations of funds can be made to ELNA’s PayPal account, eastlawrencena@gmail.com. All funds will be used for the Wishing Bench, and any excess funds will support public art in East Lawrence, according to the post.

Those who wish to volunteer other resources can email eastlawrence@yahoo.com with the subject line “Wishing Bench.” ELNA thanked those who reach out in advance for their patience — “We’re all volunteers but don’t worry – we will get back to you!”

The group also recalled Quantrill’s Raid on Lawrence on Aug. 21, 1863: “The legacy of East Lawrence was forged by fire 158 years ago, and fire remains part of our DNA. Ad Astra per Aspera!”

Follow ELNA on Facebook to stay up to date on plans as they materialize.

August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical personnel talk in front of the charred remains of the Wishing Bench at Ninth and Delaware streets on Aug. 15, 2021.

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