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Tourism 2020

Learn about the Truman Library renovation and more

A man takes a photo of a woman on the steps outside of the Truman Library.
A man takes a photo of a woman on the steps outside of the entrance of the Truman Library.

The year 2020 will see several tourism attraction enhancements in Independence. 

From the $30 million renovation of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum to the restoration of the historic Pioneer Spring Cabin, we’re excited to share details and updates about these projects.

There are several major projects underway at historic sites in Independence: the renovation at the Truman Library, a restoration and relocation of the Pioneer Spring Cabin, a renovation of the Truman Depot and renovations at the 1859 Jail, Marshal’s Home & Museum

We’re proud of our historic sites in Independence. Whether you’ve visited before, or you’re considering a trip, keep an eye on 2020, as we look to reveal these new and improved attractions. 

Browse the tabs below to read and see more about each project.

Many people who visit Independence do so to see the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum. The facility is undergoing a major renovation to better tell the Truman story and bring the museum experience into the 21st century.

Start date: Museum closed to the public on July 23, 2019. Groundbreaking ceremony hosted on Sept. 5, 2019.
Estimated completion: Fall of 2020
Total cost: $30 million
Lead organization: Truman Library Institute

President Truman at the dedication ceremony for the Truman Library in 1957. Truman Library Archives.

The Truman Library is the presidential library and final resting place of Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States (1945–1953). It is one of just 14 presidential libraries in the country and the first presidential library to be created under the provisions of the 1955 Presidential Libraries Act. Opened in 1957, the Truman Library is often cited as one of the best presidential libraries in the nation. 

The museum closed to the public in July 2019 for its renovation. A fundraising effort by the Truman Library Institute is aiming to raise $30 million toward the project, which will see the installation of a new permanent exhibition and upgrades to the visitor experience, including improved storytelling, enhanced interactive and technology-based experiences and a comprehensive educational strategy.

Image links to video fly-through of Truman Library renovation.
Click the thumbnail to see a fly-through of the renovation of the Truman Library. Truman Library Institute.

According to the Truman Library Institute, “There is no better place in the United States to tell the story of America’s 33rd president than the Truman Library. This campaign will make the Library a hub for exploration and experiential learning that achieves Truman’s goals for his ‘Classroom for Democracy:’ create more informed and engaged communities, teach the next generation about our history, and inspire citizens to participate in shaping our future.”

We couldn’t agree more and look forward to helping share the Truman story, with the library as our biggest asset, in 2020.

Built in 1913 for the Missouri Pacific Railroad, this red brick train station is most commonly called the Truman Depot in honor of President Harry Truman. In 2020, the City of Independence will add a Whistle Stop Tour museum to the space.

Start date: To be determined
Estimated completion: 2020
Total cost: $350,000
Lead organization: City of Independence

A photo of the Truman Depot in the 1950s.

The Truman Depot serves four Amtrak trains daily as part of the Missouri River Runner route, connecting Kansas City and St. Louis. While the depot is functional, the City of Independence hopes to utilize a $350,000 TAP Fund grant from the Mid-America Regional Council to restore and improve the train station in 2020.

The scope of the restoration includes minimal exterior work, and instead focuses on the interior of the building. In addition to improving the amenities available to travelers, the project calls for the development of a Whistle Stop Tour exhibit, full-time staffing of the depot and construction of a trail to the historic sites around the National Frontier Trails Museum.

President Truman waves to a crowd on campaign train in Topeka, Kansas,

Not only does this project add to the historic assets operated by the City of Independence, it allows Amtrak to better market the station as a destination for travelers.

 This little train depot is an important tool to tell the Truman story in Independence. The Truman Depot was the final stop in Truman’s successful 1948 Whistlestop Campaign and the location where 8,500 admirers welcomed Harry and Bess back home after leaving the White House.

The Pioneer Spring Cabin represents the very earliest of the history of Independence. Constructed in the mid-1800s, and saved in the 1970s, the City of Independence is aiming to again restore and relocate this unique piece of history in 2020.

Start date: Monday, Sept. 30, 2019
Estimated completion: 10-12 weeks
Total cost: To be determined
Lead organization: City of Independence

Click the thumbnail to learn about the Pioneer Spring Cabin project.

The City of Independence recognizes the Pioneer Spring Cabin’s significance to the history of Independence and its potential as an attraction and education tool. Unfortunately, the structure has been neglected for several years.

This project aims to protect the integrity of the nearly two-century old structure and this restoration protect the nearly 200-year-old cabin from any further physical deterioration and to reintroduce it to the variety of historic city-owned and -operated attractions.

Over 10-12 weeks, the cabin will be carefully disassembled, evaluated and cleaned, then reassembled in a new location.

The City has contracted with Hagood Construction for about $75,000 to fulfill those duties. Owner Aaron Hagood has been building and restoring log cabins professionally for nearly 30 years. As a part of the process, Hagood will replace rotten logs with healthy, period-accurate logs, held over from previous projects. He promises to rebuild the Pioneer Spring Cabin as it was constructed originally, correcting for mistakes when the cabin was restored and relocated in the 1970s.

The most recent plans for the Pioneer Spring Cabin.

Upon completion, the City of Independence expects to reopen the Pioneer Spring Cabin near the National Frontier Trails Museum as an attraction and educational tool. The interior of the cabin will be programmed to tell the story of those who came to Independence as merchants for those planning to brave the overland trails.

Keep tabs on the latest updates on the Pioneer Spring Cabin project here.

The 1859 Jail, Marshal’s Home & Museum is one of the oldest buildings on the historic Independence Square. One-hundred-sixty years later, the Jackson County Historical Society is embarking on a major restoration of the structure.

Start date: Restoration work began in 2019
Estimated completion: Phase 1 – Fall of 2020. Total scope – 5 to 7 years
Total cost: Estimated $800,000
Lead organization: Jackson County Historical Society

Window holes on the 1859 Jail are boarded up during restoration work in Sept. 2019. JCHS.

In conjunction with the 160th anniversary of its construction, as well as the 60th anniversary of its opening as a museum, owner-operator of the 1859 Jail, Marshal’s Home & Museum Jackson Country Historical Society initiated a significant restoration project on the historic structure in late 2019.

The project began in late 2019 with Phase 1 of a multi-phase restoration. Phase 1 includes a restoration of the building’s west-facing windows, fixing up plaster walls and completing masonry repairs on the chimney and load-bearing walls. JCHS is covering most of the cost of Phase 1 with a $75,000 Sunderland Foundation grant and covering the remaining costs out of pocket. 

JCHS is working with STRATA Architecture + Preservation, of Kansas City, to develop a full scope of work. While phases beyond Phase 1 are still being developing, initial estimates total about $800,000 in repair work to be completed over a five- to seven-year period. The organization is leaning on donations to help it reach its goals.

The drawing of the 1859 Jail depicted in 1877. JCHS.

The building, or sections of it, have been restored several times since the historical society purchased and opened the jail as a museum in 1958-59. In keeping with its values as an organization, the JCHS says it’s simply looking to protect the building from going the way of demolition by neglect, the very position the building was in when it was saved in 1958.

You can learn more about the restoration project, as well as how to donate, here.

Coming soon.