Sunday, March 08, 2009
Enthusiasm is contagious
I want to tell you about the little museum in Excelsior Springs, and a kind and enthusiastic man who opened it up for us. When Cliff and I reached historic downtown Excelsior Springs, we noticed the museum on a corner. We pulled over in front of it and saw a sign on the door stating that it closed at 3 P.M. It was ten minutes till three, so we went down the street to a parking lot, figuring we'd just look at the Hall of Waters and some of the other buildings. As we stood there, a gentleman approached us and said, "Where are you folks from?"
We explained that we lived not so many miles away, and that we've been exploring local areas of interest on our motorcycle.
He told us a few things about the Hall of Waters, and then said, "I'm so well informed about this because I work in the museum on the corner."
"We noticed that place," I told him, "but it closed at three, right?"
"Oh, I'd be glad to open up for you and show you around," he said.
Cliff started to politely decline, but I could see that the guy genuinely wanted us to see "his" museum, so I said, "Let's just take a quick look."
I had intended to get a closeup of the plaque on the left there; it has the name of the bank that used to inhabit the building.
In this picture, he's explaining how deteriorated these two buildings were when they decided to try and restore them. Floors were rotted; the roof leaked. Their lowest estimate to get it fixed up was over $150,000.
But local businesses started donating material and labor, and the necessary things got done for under $50,000 in less than six months. It was great hearing how all these things came together as if it were meant to be.
The vault looks shiny as new.
I wish I had gotten that gentleman's name. He made the place come alive for us, explaining in detail various aspects of the restoration of the place.
This is the ceiling of the bank. It was the first building in town with electric lights, and there were plenty of them.
The museum has a website, but it leaves much to be desired, in my opinion. If you live in the Kansas City area, it's worth your time to visit this place... especially if our friend is there to tell you about it.
Here's a picture of the bank in 1908, taken from an old postcard.