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Heritage and History

Stephen Hill has a personal and family heritage of business and community development. He is President of Bowersock Mills and Power Company, a long time Rotarian, a Bishop Seabury Academy Board member, a Watkins Museum Board member and a Trustee of the Kansas City Symphony Foundation. Hill is a first generation Lawrence native and traces his roots to the Douglas County Mills, established by his family in 1874. By the 1870s coal and wood had become too expensive to power early city businesses and the economy suffered. Ferry Operator Orlando Darling proposed building a dam to capture the power of the river. He negotiated a deal with the City but was bankrupted when an ice flow took out the dam he built. Justin Bowersock rebuilt the dam and initiated a period of business development. The dam washed out again in 1903 and it was rebuilt to produce electric power. An impressive period of business development ensued. In the late 1970s a new contract was secured which permitted the development of the south bank of the river and the construction of City Hall, Abe and Jake’s Landing and the present Marriott. The historical damming of the river, the generation of hydro power and subsequent business development played a major part in the growth and prosperity of Lawrence.