Last weekend, I was briefly able to attend an event that I suspect was a fundraiser/open house to drum up attention for the restoration of an old building that holds some pretty big significance to the city of Independence, Missouri. This property is being called “The Mill Office” and was open to visitors for the first time in many years during the event. The organizers also opened up an old cabin nearby to allow foot traffic as well, something I knew I could not miss as it was closed off when I was last here. Both of the highlighted buildings could end up being something pretty special one of these days, but a lot of work has to be done to make them “good” for tourists and historians. I say that because they are at varying stages of the preservation process, and aren’t much to look at right now.
I did not have much time, and sadly missed live music that was planned, but the organizers were very generous with their time nonetheless.
Mill Office and Pioneer Spring Cabin; Independence, MO
Both buildings are located on the original grounds of the Gates-Waggoner Milling Company, a former flour mill that produced Queen of the Pantry Flour for many years. A large mansion across the street, The Bingham -Waggoner Estate, was the home of the very same Waggoner family that ran the flour mill. Most of what I know of this family and their history is housed at said mansion, as is a lot of Queen of the Pantry Flour memorabilia. As you can guess, “The Mill Office” was the administrative office for this company, and many of the buildings in the area a former parts of this factory complex. Sadly, The Mill Office has fallen into disrepair after many years, as the company ceased operation many years ago, with the building even being used as some sort of tavern in the past.
The Pioneer Spring Cabin was previously located in an entirely different part of the city, but was recently moved to the same general area. It was felt that it could be better preserved, and protected in an area of historic sites and it “fit better” in its current position. This building, the Mill Office, The Frontier Trails Museum, and the Chicago and Alton Depot buildings are starting to become a pretty slick little historical complex that I hope many people enjoy for many years to come, especially after renovations are completed. Having these all next to each other, and the mansion across the street makes the site a popular stop for travelers driving through, and I can only imagine these new additions will help that as well.
I normally recommend a book, but sadly I don’t have one since this is such a new site, I suppose you could go back and read about the book for The Bingham-Waggoner Estate, as it talks about the flour company. More information can be found in the links above or by visiting the Mansion’s website. As for the cabin, The Jackson County Historical Society has a page detailing the restoration as it stands as well as some information on how the site looked in the past.
Pioneer Spring Cabin:
I will definitely be keeping an eye out on these projects, as both appear to be the start of some really cool historic sites. As you can see, the Pioneer Spring Cabin is largely nearing completion and will get some furnishings at some point according to the museum staff. Since it’s original restoration was a project some fifty years ago, I wonder how much of that will carry over? On the flipside, The Mill Office is pretty rough, but has no obvious structural damage and is only hampered by a drainage issue from modern sidewalks. It will take some work and money to get everything going, but saving the building will be amazing rather than allowing it to decay and collapse as other cities allow their historic buildings.
Stay tuned for more, I’m sure this isn’t the first time I will visit these.