Old Statecoach Stop, Courthouse Museum open Saturday on the Waynesville Square
Ever wonder why it’s called the historic Waynesville Square? Two local landmarks are a big part of the reason, and will soon open their doors to begin a new season of tours.
The 1903 Courthouse Museum on Route 66 and the Old Stagecoach Stop will be open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday, giving visitors from across the country, as well as those closer to home, a chance to take a step back in time. It’s the first of many weekly tours that will continue Saturdays through the month of September.
“Most of our items date from the late 1800s to the early 1900s and on from there,” said Denise Seevers, who serves as co-curator of the museum and president of the Pulaski County Historical Society, which runs it.
Built in 1903, the old courthouse served Pulaski County for more than 86 years before the current courthouse was completed in 1990. The museum holds a trove of artifacts, including historic farm tools, mechanical items, a camera collection and a large collection of arrowheads. However, the main attraction is the museum’s upstairs courtroom, which remains intact and is still used on occasion for proceedings, such as weddings.
“One of our best features is our upstairs courtroom, which has hardwood floors and a hardwood ceiling,” Seevers said. “We also have a huge collection of old tools, farm implements and household items on display, as well as an old schoolroom with desks set up for children to explore.”
Admission to the museum is free, although donations are accepted for ongoing maintenance and renovations.
Seevers said volunteers offer guided tours, or visitors can browse the museum on their own.
“We offer self tours now,” she said. “People can come in, take a handout, and if they want to wander around and take pictures, they are more than welcome to do so.”
A few feet away from the historic courthouse is the Old Stagecoach Stop, which remains the oldest standing structure in Pulaski County. Originally built in the 1850s as a settler’s cabin, it served the area as a stagecoach stop, a tavern, a Civil War hospital, a restaurant, dentist’s office, apartment building and more. Each Saturday, volunteers with the Old Stagecoach Stop Foundation offer tours, with guides dressed in period costume and versed in the history of the building’s various stages.
“We love to share the rich history there,” OSS Foundation President Jeanie Porter said, adding that the museum will feature two new historically significant pieces this year.
“We have some Civil War water kegs, that originally were stored underneath ambulance wagons,” she said. “Those are significant, since the Union Army came in and commandeered the building as a hospital during the war. We also have a pot-bellied stove that was common at that time. Both of those were donated to the museum by our first foundation president, Bob Dodds.”
The effort to open the museum itself is an interesting chapter in Pulaski County history.
“This building was going to be destroyed by the city in 1982, until the foundation was formed to save and restore it,” Porter said. “We’re just so thankful that the foundation, led by Maxine and Gene Farnham, was able to save the building for our community and for future historians.”
Because they are both located along Historic Route 66, each year, both museums are visited by travelers from across the country and around the world.
“I wish we had an interpreter sometimes,” Seevers said. “Especially for our visitors from Germany, Poland and the former Yugoslavia. We get folks in who sometimes don’t speak any English. Sometimes, we end up using a lot of hand gestures to make conversation by showing them different items.”
For more information about the 1903 Courthouse Museum, call Seevers at 573.855.3644 or visit www.Route66Courthouse.com.
For more information about the Old Stagecoach Stop, call 573.336.3561, visit the museum website at oldstagecoachstop.org or see the organization’s Facebook page @oldstagecoachstop.
For more information about the 1903 Courthouse Museum, call 573.855.3644, visit www.Route66Courthouse.com or visit the @pulaskicountyhistoricalsociety page on Facebook.