Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Historic Sites - Headed West from St. Louis Missouri

The visit with Laurie’s family and our friends in the St. Louis area was over and it was time to head west to our next destination…the Kansas City Missouri area. 

Whenever we aren’t under any particular time constraints or deadlines, we avoid the Interstate System and use secondary highways.  In this case, I decided to follow US 50 across Missouri.  As is my norm, I’d plotted out a number of depots and historical buildings to check out along the way…

This is the former Gerald Missouri Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad depot.  It’s now located next to a very nice Veteran’s Memorial and park just south of US 50.  The tracks are just north across the highway. 

Gerald was platted in 1901 along a railroad line.  I’d guess that the depot was built between 1903 and 1908 but I couldn’t determine an exact date. The town was named for a local family of pioneer settlers, the Fitzgerald family.  The current population of Gerald is about 1,350.  The Chamber of Commerce now occupies the depot.

This is the Zewicki House at 402 East Main Street in Linn Missouri.  This nine-room house was designed by Dr. E. T. Zewicki, a Linn dentist, and his wife, Amy. Construction was completed in 1895.  The porch was added prior to WWI.  Before 1927, the home didn’t have either plumbing or electricity.  The family owned the home until 1986 when it was donated to Osage County Historical Society.

Linn was first organized/platted in 1843 and the town is named after former Missouri US Senator, Lewis F. Linn.  Linn has a population of roughly 1,400 and it is the County Seat for Osage County.  Back in 1870, Osage County had 10,793 residents and the 2010 census recorded a population of 13,878.  The county has about 1,000 farms, averaging 266 acres each…and for those of you who love touring wineries, Osage County has 3 of them!

This is the Moniteau County Courthouse on Courthouse Square in California Missouri.  Note the domed octagonal cupola behind the round dome that's part of the entry portico.  The Courthouse was built in 1867 and it’s now one of the oldest courthouses in Missouri.  

Nearly all of the county’s business is still conducted inside this building.   Moniteau County has a population of a little over 15,600.  The county was named after Moniteau Creek.  Moniteau is a French spelling of “Manitou”, Algonquian for "the Great Spirit."

Factoid: In 2016, the Moniteau County Fair will celebrate its 150th anniversary. It is believed to be the oldest continuously occurring county fair west of the Mississippi.

This is the Finke Opera House with the attached Finke Building to the left.  The opera house is located at 315 North High Street in downtown California Missouri.  It was built in 1885 and the adjacent building was built in 1899. 

The two-story brick Opera House was California’s main entertainment center for the community.  From 1885-1897, it was known as the California Opera House and then the Finke Opera House from 1897-1922.  While it was the opera house, the building was home to stage shows, plays, musicals and school performances.  ‘Blind’ Boone played the piano at the opera house in 1893.  Cole Younger, an associate of Jesse James, lectured at the opera house in 1909.  The theater was reopened in 2010 for special events…

I discovered that John William "Blind" Boone, 1864 – 1927), was an American pianist and composer of ragtime music.  Boone was born in a Federal militia camp near Miami Missouri to a contraband slave, Rachel Carpenter, who had been owned by descendants of Daniel Boone.  His father was a bugler in the 7th Missouri State Militia Cavalry (Union). Doctors removed both of Boone's eyes when he was six months old in an attempt to cure his brain fever.  To learn more about Blind Boone and his life’s trials and tribulations, you can just go to

These are the Gray-Wood Buildings at 401 – 407 North High Street in California Missouri.  They date back to the late 1890s.  Due to their architectural significance, these buildings were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. 

The County Seat of Moniteau County was founded ca. 1845 and it was originally known as Boonesborough.  In 1947, the town was renamed California after the new US territory on the West Coast that, in 1847, had just been annexed by the United States.  The current estimated population of California Missouri is a little over 4,300.  

That’s about it for now… Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

1 comment:

  1. Cool, taking the back roads, sure beats the monotony of interstates! Lots of interesting info here, Dave! I love old houses with great architecture, like the Zewicki house. That front window and all the angles are great. The court house is nice too, with the cupola and dome and the arched windows, similar to the door. Blind Boone had quite a life, and the sculpture is quite unique with the keyboard! I enjoyed reading this, thanks and have a good day!