Bates County Museum Building celebrates 100 years

Bates County Historical Society News Release

Contact: Peggy Buhr, Museum Director (660) 679-0134 museum / (816) 392-4756 cell

Bates County Museum Building to Celebrate 100 Years

The Bates County Museum, a partner in Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area, is housed in the old Bates County Poor Farm that received its first residents in the spring of 1916 and was later known as the County Infirmary. By 1950 it was Pine Tree Rest Home. As the decades went by, Pine Tree was finally closed in 1981 and the building then housed a succession of facilities, none of which lasted long. In the mid-1990s, the doors were closed for the last time. Locked doors on a building were an invitation to delinquent and adult activities that caused damage. The place had become very creepy, and yet, there was still something special about the grand old building that served to remind everyone that it played an important role in the lives of Bates Countians for many, many decades.

Fortunately the Bates County Historical Society’s Museum Curator, Nita Thompson, could see beyond the overgrown weeds, broken windows, trashed hallways and every other eerie sight and sound alive in an old building. Nita saw a grand old red brick building with potential, with huge potential. She and a handful of others in the Society knew the Bates County Museum had found a new home. Through coordinated efforts and great determination, the Society purchased the property and was able to also purchase additional acreage, thus creating a beautiful and spacious setting. The grand old building had a new purpose, a new opportunity to continuing serving the people.

After many years of literally blood, sweat, tears and money, the Bates County Museum opened to the public in 2006. Work never stops. As with any old building there are always maintenance issues requiring attention but the end result is excellent. Time and again we receive high praise from visitors who admire the building and our Museum. It is with pride that we retell the story of this building and let people know that her purpose has always been a noble one.

That is why we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the laying of her cornerstone. The Cornerstone Centennial Commemoration Ceremony will be held on Saturday, December 12, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. Butler Masonic Lodge #254 is hosting the event and Masonic Officers from the Grand Lodge of Missouri have agreed to travel to Butler to participate in this extraordinary re-enactment. Freeman Stanfill, of the Amsterdam Lodge, is a Grand Officer and we are proud to have him and his Brother Masons perform this time-honored tradition as a way to pay tribute to this building and to our ancestors who first dedicated it.

The official records of the Butler Masonic Lodge in Bates County from the year 1915 states that in March of that year, two brother Masons traveled to Jefferson City to witness the laying of the cornerstone of the new Capitol building. It continues with, “Soon after that we had a cornerstone laying ceremony right here at home. It was at the County Infirmary or the County Home as we know it. On November 27th, 1915, a special meeting was called to consider buying the stone and paying for the inscription, which we did. With the help of all the lodges in the County, the stone was laid on December 6th 1915. There were 56 members of the order present.” 

The public is cordially invited to join us on Saturday, December 12th, 2015 at 2:00 pm for this very special event that offers everyone an opportunity to witness the beginning of the second hundred years of service this building will be providing the citizens of Bates County. The Museum also extends a special invitation to all Masons and to the relatives of Masons, past and present, to attend this ceremony. We will be making history as we are re-living history. Refreshments will be served following the ceremony and the Museum will be open for touring. For further information please contact the Museum by phone at (660) 679-0134 or via email at director@batescountymuseum.org. The Museum also has a FaceBook page: Bates County Museum.

Museum Director Peggy Buhr serves as a member of the Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area Advisory Committee, and also on the Board of Trustees.

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