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The City of Manhattan hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday to celebrate the opening of the new Douglass Activity Center.

Dozens gathered in the facility’s gymnasium to take part in the festivities, which included speeches from mayor Wynn Butler, Douglass Activity Center director David Baker, Douglass Center Advisory Board chair Debbie Nuss, city manager Ron Fehr and Parks and Recreation assistant director Wyatt Thompson.

“Today is a historic moment,” Butler said. “We have the honor of participating in the opening of the new Douglass Activity Center – a facility that will encompass education, recreation, fellowship and kinship for all members of the community.”

The facility features a fitness center, yoga room, an indoor walking track and courts for basketball, volleyball and pickleball.

According to Thompson, the last time the city opened a comparable facility was the commemoration of Peace Memorial Auditorium in City Hall in 1955.

Beyond its significance as the newest public recreation center in Manhattan, the Douglass Activity Center also has a historical connection to the city’s Black community.

The Douglass School, which was named after Frederick Douglass, an American politician and abolitionist from the 1800s, served as a place of learning for Black students before desegregation. It would eventually become what is now the Douglass Community Center.

The Douglass Activity Center, located at 925 Yuma St., is the latest addition to Frederick Douglass Recreation Complex, which includes the community center, Douglass Annex and Douglass Park.

“Many people have heard me say this, but history goes away – it does not come back, ” Baker said. “Today, history is preserved for the Black community and for all citizens of Manhattan.”

The ribbon-cutting ceremony also featured a free-throw competition involving employees from the Manhattan Fire Department, Riley County Police Department, Riley County EMS and Trinium Contractors.

For more information about the facility, visit


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