The Downing House Museum complex is getting ready to reopen for the 2018 season on May 1, 2018. The facilities will be open each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday through September from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. with volunteers available to provide guided tours to visitors.
“We also try to accommodate visitors on other days by appointment,” said volunteer Rhonda McBee.”
The museum phone number is (660) 465-2259, if there is no answer call (660) 465-2195 or 2510.
Workers recently replaced the roof on both the Downing House and the Boyer House, replaced the guttering, and have begun to clean and rearrange for those who wish to visit during this year’s season.
“The museum is very fortunate to have excellent volunteers to provide informational tours to our patrons and to help with the everyday upkeep and maintenance of our complex,” said McBee.
During 2017 volunteers provided tours to more than 450 patrons during the regular season.
The “Soldier in the Field” also known as the Barnett Statue found a new home on the northwest corner of the Memphis Depot. Many volunteers worked to get the monument moved and erected. It was officially dedicated on Memorial Day.
“In observance of the annual Scotland County Antique Fair we opened the doors to visitors for a ‘free will offering’ and were happy to see visitors of all ages enjoy our artifacts, buildings and grounds,” said McBee. “We also hosted descendants from the Downing Family in August 2017. They came from all over the United States and Central America. We were happy to provide them a tour and they provided our volunteers with information and background from their family tree.”
“An Evening at the Museum – a Candlelit Tour of the Past” was held on October 13 & 14, 2017. This marked the second year the complex hosted the event. Guests experienced actual local history provided by characters from the past.
“We are planning a 3rd annual event and have tentatively scheduled this year’s evening tour for October 19h and 20th, said McBee. “We will be adding some new characters to the local favorites. Look to see Ella Ewing, Tom Horn, William G. Downing, and others. Mark your calendars and watch the Facebook page for more information.”
Also new for 2018 will be a Townsend Wagon that was manufactured right here in Memphis, MO in the late 1800s and on loan, a Circus Wagon from Billy Hall’s (Lancaster, MO native) traveling days with a circus. More information will be available at a later date.
The complex continues to collect aluminum cans as a fundraiser. If you have cans, they can be left on the north porch of the Downing House. There are also rag rugs and coverlets for sale at the museum gift shop.
“We rely heavily on the generous contributions from our loyal patrons to keep the museum functioning and the repairs made and we appreciate the contributions made by our patrons and the volunteers who give so freely of their time,” said McBee.
If you haven’t visited recently, the volunteers urge you to stop by for a tour. Admission is $5 per person over aged 10. The museum tour requires walking and climbing stairs, so keep this in mind and wear comfortable shoes and clothing.
“Our Mission Statement is: Working to preserve the local history of Scotland County for future generations, and we strive to do this for all of our patrons,” said McBee.