Last December, I wrote a travel blog about the small town of Weaubleau, Missouri.
Driving through I had sensed there was something special about it. That was the reason I chose to write about it out of all the towns we drove through.
I posted the blog for my friends and family and left it at that.
Last week the blog post suddenly took off. I was contacted by many residents saying they enjoyed the blog post and offered additional information on the properties I had photographed.
I wanted to write a follow-up post and share the stories of the people along with a little color to the photos. They deserve that.
I was right when I sensed there was something about the town – it’s the people.
I was wrong when I suggested it was forgotten. Dead wrong.
Current and former residents have a love and pride for this town that we could all learn from.
The most exciting information I received was about this house:
I photograph abandoned and dilapidated structures all the time. I find beauty in them and enjoy imagining what joy and life they used to hold.
I never get to hear the real stories. Ever.
But this time, I did, and I am so thrilled.
The house was built by John Whitaker (1842-1910) circa 1903 according to a date stamp on the pavement. John was an Ordained Christian minister and prominent citizen of Weaubleau. He organized the Weaubleau Christian Church and founded the Weaubleau Christian Institute (What is now the Weaubleau Congregational Christian Church. See below).
Among other things, he was appointed Supervisor of the Census under President Taft.
He died in his Weaubleau home on January 6, 1910.
I don’t know if THIS is the home he died in. Maybe a resident can clarify.
The house was later owned by a woman named Virgie Baker who passed away a few years ago. Several people reached out to me about her. Her sister said, “to know her was to love her.”
“Thanks for acknowledging this house. There were many great, loving memories lived here.” – Anonymous
The current owner, Cynthia Cahalan, contacted me with most of the above information. She says they have struggled to tear it down because of the memories it holds – and it would cost too much to restore (around $200k). She started a family in the home and spent many holidays and celebrations under that roof.
After I spoke to her, someone suggested she contact the historical society and see about getting it registered and possibly restored through them. Considering it’s age and who built it, I agree that she should pursue it.
When I wrote the first blog about Weableau, I didn’t know what this used to be. Turns out, it was a variety store:
“In my memory I can still see Glenn Jennings smiling, standing in the store on the hardwood floors with all the knickknacks, small household items, and items that kept you wandering and looking for a long time. Unlike the local box stores, visiting the little stores was a social experience where the shopkeeper asked, “How are you today,” but really meant, “How are you? How are Bill and Beulah? How are their kids?” You just don’t get that at the big stores.” – Patti Hutton
It is now owned by a woman named Jessie who hopes to restore it and return it to its former glory. I hope she does. I hate to see history fade.
The town of Weaubleau was a booming town in the early and mid-1900s, still being notable in the 1970s. In 1985 a fire devastated the town and hard economic times closed many of the small local businesses.
The Weaubleau Methodist Church:
The property and church are currently owned by Marvin and Saiyohn Stewart. Marvin reached out and told me he bought the property in 2010 from the local school district, and it will be up for sale this Spring.
I would love to go inside and take photos if the structure is stable.
I kind of wonder if this would qualify for the Historic Register as well (maybe it’s already been checked?).
The Weaubleau Congregational Christian Church:
Formerly the Weaubleau Christian Institute. You can see more of the history in my first post!
“The Old Mill” and the bus. I still don’t know the stories behind these.
I want to thank the current and former residents of Weaubleau, Missouri for all of this information. 100% of the credit for this blog entry goes to them.
I will be back through Weaubleau next Friday, February 23rd. If you have any suggestions for sights or areas with an exciting history you think I should feature, please reach out.
Overall, you are all amazing. It was my pleasure to write the first blog, and this one too.
Thank you, Weaubleau.