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Examiner
  • Truman home open again for tours

  • Truman High School Band Director Todd Reinhardt serenaded guests with the national anthem as National Parks Junior Ranger, Madison Davied and World War II veteran, Bill Liddle, raised the flag.

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  • Truman High School Band Director Todd Reinhardt serenaded guests with the national anthem as National Parks Junior Ranger, Madison Davied and World War II veteran, Bill Liddle, raised the flag.
    Friday’s flag raising ceremony signified the re-opening of the Harry S. Truman Home, 219 N. Delaware St. in Independence.
    The home closed in October 2009 for a major renovation including the installation of a HVAC system, installation of a state-of-the-art fire suppression system, extensive repairs to plaster, walls and ceilings throughout the home, removal, cleaning and repair of historic wallpaper throughout the home, replacement of roof shingles and a 3-coat paint of the home exterior.
    $1,175,000 of the $20 million service-wide distribution from the Centennial Initiative, a $1 billion commitment of national funds over ten years for National Parks, was spent renovating the home of the 33rd President, Harry S. Truman.
    The monies allocated for this project were specifically “to bring historical buildings that were in fair condition to good condition,” said Larry Villalva, superintendent of the Harry S. Truman National Historic Site. “And that’s what we were able to do here.”
    Placement of the HVAC system is “not overkill, it is to adequately take care of the interior of the house and the artifacts within,” Villalva said.
    Of the 34,000 visitors the home receives each year, tours will still not be available to any area of the home above the first floor.
    Renovations are ongoing on the second and third floors of the home.
    The only visual change visitors will observe on the tour are flat caps of the drop down sprinkler heads throughout the ceiling and minor plaster work still in the process on walls in the music room and living room.
    For the renovation, 14,000 pieces of artifacts were carefully removed from the home and placed in storage. The president’s study/library took weeks to disassemble properly and accurately.
    Museum technician for the Truman home, Darla Hostetler, remembers this particular part of the home with pride.
    “The greatest compliment I have ever received was from Truman’s grandson, Clifton Truman Daniel,” Hostetler said. “He said ‘it smells and feels just like it did when grandma and grandpa lived here’.”
    Tom Edmondson, conservator of paper and photographs with Heugh-Edmondson Conservation Services, LCC, was hired for the removal and replacement of the wallpaper throughout the home and did so with painstaking care. In most areas of the home, it did not appear the wallpaper had been touched at all.
    The wallpaper was removed to repair plaster damage underneath.
    The home was built in 1867 with the only other major renovation in 1885’s grand addition to the south side.
    The Truman home is open for tours throughout the summer seven days a week. For information on the home and purchasing tour tickets contact Truman Home Ticket Center 816-254-9929 between Main & Truman Road (223 North Main St.). Cost is $4 for adults, ages 15 and under are free.
    Page 2 of 3 - above the first floor
    n On the second floor in the central foyer, a replica of George Washington’s desk, made of the original wood from the white house before the renovation, sits with a pencil sharper Truman stuck on the end.
    n With the same white house wood and next to the George Washington replicated desk, is a corner cupboard made for Bess Truman. The cupboard was so heavy it was never moved before the October 2009 renovation. On the wall behind it, the outline of the cupboard shows three layers of different wallpaper that was used over the years, proving the amount of time the cupboard stood in the same spot.
    • The south side of the home with a special passageway built in to connect to Margaret Truman’s childhood room. Most of the entire second floor was decorated in blue as was both of these rooms. A blue sink also sits in the bedroom of the former President and first lady.
     
    •  The third floor ceiling houses the HVAC and sprinkler systems. The pipes, tubes and entire system are held up by stabilizers screwed to the ceiling to reduce noise and rattle for the touring guests below. The third floor is also loaded with additional insulation to reduce sound.
    •  The back staircase, coming off of the kitchen, leads to a sitting room where wooden crates marked “T-7 Independence House,” re-used from the white house move, are nailed to the walls used for storage units. The Trumans were known for frugality and is a quality displayed throughout the home.
     
    •  Truman’s dressing room, the next room off the sitting room, displays a hole drilled through the wall large enough  for an extension cord to provide electricity to that room; another example of Truman’s ingenuity and cost-effective mind.
     
    •  The only bathroom on the second floor, also decorated in blue, is the place where Truman’s famous fall led to his cracked ribs, head and broken glasses. From that point on, Truman used the first floor bathroom primarily.
     
    •  All smoke detectors were replaced with “smoke sniffers,” an enhanced system for fire detection. No additional holes were drilled as they were able to fit inside the original smoke detectors in each room.
     
    •  Since Truman didn’t like air conditioning, before now, there were three window units installed all within the first floor. There was no air conditioning on the second or third floors of the home.
    •  While walking through the central foyer on the second floor, you can feel in the floor where the grand addition was made in 1885.
     
    •  During the renovation, a “mummified raccoon” and squirrels hideout was found by Lewis McKarnin, National Parks wood crafter, within the old flooring of the third floor. McKarnin removed, repaired and replaced most of the second floors carpet and wood and tells the story of the animal visitors with pride.
    Page 3 of 3 -  
    •  A mystery continuously stumping museum officials is a large wing engraved within the wood staircase that leads from the first floor foyer to the second floor. At the bottom of the staircase and only visible on the first floor behind a chair is a single wing with no indication of its significance, company name, etc.
     

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