Manhattan, KAN. (WIBW) -- Construction is nearly complete on a new tourism attraction in Manhattan.
Workers are putting the finishing touches on the $25 million Flint Hills Discovery Center, an interactive science and history learning center.
On Friday, members of the state and local Masonic lodges were on hand for the dedication of the building’s cornerstone.
It’s the first time a cornerstone has been placed on a Manhattan building since 1962.
As part of their time-honored tradition, the Masons spread corn, wine and oil on the cornerstone- the three things they say are needed to sustain life. Corn represents nourishment, wine represents refreshment and oil represents joy. They also helped seal the stone with cement.
“Masons are knee deep in tradition and we hope that this also symbolizes traditions for the Flint Hills area because it is one of the most beautiful places not only in the United States but the whole world,” said Tracy Bloom, Grand Master for the Grand Lodge of Kansas.
Robin Jennison, Kansas Secretary for Wildlife. Parks and Tourism, was also on hand and called the Discovery Center the “treasure of the Tallgrass Prairie.”
“One of the most important things about tourism is critical mass- to have a number of things in an area for people to view and that is one of the things this is going to do. This may just be the first of a number of attractions that are part of the Flint Hills to begin to bring people in so they can learn to appreciate and understand the Tallgrass Prairie,” he told 13 News.
“There are less and less people who actively get out and enjoy the outdoors and if we can’t get the next generation to understand the outdoors, to understand the importance of our natural resources, we are not going to have people that want to protect them,” he added.
It will take several months for crews to install the Discovery Center’s permanent displays. There will also be a hands-on kid zone, interactive family learning area and a triple high definition theater.
It is set to open in the spring. It will double as Manhattan’s Visitors Center.