Frances Hose loves challenges.
She and her husband of 52 years moved to Blue Springs in 1995, and both were faced with a housing project like no other.
"I showed the house to my husband and he thought I had lost my mind," Frances recalls.
She is referring to the pink house at 18th and Main streets near downtown Blue Springs. Nearly 20 years ago, it was far from its bright and noticeable color. Virtually aspect of the home was in dire need of repair, she said.
"The first three months we slept on the floor. We didn’t bring our furniture from Indiana until the dust settled."
For Frances, the project was an opportunity to put her interior decorating skills and overall love of old homes to the test.
"It was really in bad shape. I remember when I walked in, it said to me, ‘I am yours.’"
Sure enough, the Hoses completely renovated the 119-year-old home where it still stands bright in color today.
"I picked the paint out and it was supposed to be a light cream color. When I returned home one day, it was the pink that it is today."
Ironically, Frances discovered that the wife of the former home owner, E.E. Montgomery, a prominent banker and lumber seller in Blue Springs at the turn of the 20th century, had a favorite color -- pink.
Not only does Frances thrive when confronted by difficult tasks, she also has a deep affinity for anything old: architecture, antiques and history in general.
This particular fondness eventually led her to become president of the Blue Springs Historical Society, in which she aims to preserve multiple historic sites throughout Blue Springs by coordinating several fundraising efforts.
But before we discuss the future plans of a historical society, let’s chronicle the life of Mrs. Hose to see how she became what she is today...
Frances grew up in a kind of home that would serve as the foundation, so to speak, for her affinity of old homes.
"I lived in a big, white Victorian house with a wraparound porch and a turret that went all three stories in Huntington, Virginia," she recalled.
There isn’t anything in particular that attracts her interest in old homes, she says. It’s really everything about them: their durability, style, decor and interior craftsmanship. Perhaps it is also partly due to having met her husband right off the beach near her front porch.
Soon after their marriage, the Hoses moved across the country due to her husband’s vocation. And, of course, they and their four children lived in old homes throughout the country. After her children had grown, she became an interior decorator and later a Realtor. Homes became Frances’ life, and that interest later blossomed into history.
After landing in Blue Springs and renovating her historic house, Frances welcomed her granddaughter to live with them.
"When she was in kindergarten, I found myself with not much to do. I decided to visit the Dillingham-Lewis Museum one Wednesday afternoon."
And as they say, the rest is history...
"The ladies -- and I mean ladies -- invited me into the museum and we became friends."
It turned out the ladies inside the Dillingham-Lewis Museum were members of the Blue Springs Historical Society. The society was founded by the same group of women in 1976 that Frances had met. Their goal at the time was to preserve the Chicago & Alton Hotel, located at 101 S. 15th Street. It is the oldest business building in Blue Springs as it was built in 1878, before the actual city of Blue Springs became incorporated on Sept. 7, 1880.
"The historical society found out that the Chicago & Alton Hotel was going to be torn down. They started having bake sales and anything that would make money that would save the home. Sure enough, they moved the house to the lot behind the Dillingham-Lewis Museum."
Frances became a member of the historical society since her meeting that one Wednesday afternoon in 1995. Over the years, she delved into the history of Blue Springs with her fellow historical society members.
"You see, the town of Blue Springs started at where the Burrus Old Mill Park is now on Woods Chapel Road. The train made this town, and it couldn’t make it up the hill if it had to stop at Old Mill Park. So that’s why they moved the town to its present location, where it is now on Main Street."
This is what led the Blue Springs Historical Society to save the one-story train depot built in the 1920s. They realized Kansas City Southern Railroad was going to tear it down in 2012, but fortunately were able to raise $20,000 to relocate the building to the City Park at 10th and Walnut Street.
"That’s what the historical society does: Save history."
Also, Frances learned about the Dillingham-Lewis Museum, where the Blue Springs Historical Society have their meetings and host events. The homeowner, Morgan Dillingham, was a wealthy businessman who raised mules and built the home in 1906.
"In that day, people used mules for everything."
She says the home has an Arts and Crafts style, an aesthetic filled with flora and fauna patterns yet without excessive decoration, along with a touch of Victorian style.
The Dillinghams were related to the Walker family through their children’s marriages, she says. The Walkers are well-known for being pro-Confederate bushwackers, particularly referred to as part of Quantrill’s Raiders.
Later near the mid-20th century, Miss Nora Lewis, a world traveler, bought the home.
SAVING HISTORICAL BLUE SPRINGS
The Blue Springs Historical Society owns three historic sites: The Chicago & Alton Hotel, The Dillingham-Lewis Museum, and the train depot. These particular sites, however, need the community’s -- or history lover’s -- help, as they need renovation in order to keep lasting through the next century, she says.
"If you drive by the Dillingham-Lewis Museum, you’ll see what needs to be done."
The white paint is rapidly chipping away, the roof needs to be replaced, the porch’s concrete is cracking and so much more, she adds.
"This project is estimated to cost $60,000."
Of course a challenge does not deter Frances and her historical members in the least. She and the organization have planned many fundraisers and events in order to help save the Dillingham-Lewis Museum, as well as the Chicago & Alton Hotel, which she says needs significant interior work.
"Plus we plan to relocate the city’s archives in that building, too."
On April 5, there will be a wine tasting event at Dillingham. Originally scheduled during last month’s Mardi Gras, the inclement weather postponed the event. The event is $10 per person at the door.
However, the biggest fundraiser for Dillingham’s preservation is the annual Garden Tour. There will six gardens to tour near the museum and children are welcome as well. The tour is scheduled for late spring through summer and will be featuring poets and painters exhibiting their work throughout the season.
Another big endeavor the historical society is developing is a history book of the Golden Regiment, the Blue Springs High School marching band. They are in the process of collecting material to add to the project. Proceeds of the book, when published, will be contributed to scholarships as well.
For more information about all these events, Frances says to call
816-224-8979 or visit the group’s website at www.bluespringshistory.org.
These days the Blue Springs Historical Society is 300 members strong. They all hope Blue Springs residents, along with others from Eastern Jackson County, acquire the same appreciation for history as they do, Frances says.
"Preserving history is preserving culture," she adds.