Jackson County was honored last week for preserving the 178-year-old Truman Courthouse in Independence. Four things to know:
1 The county was given the Preserve Missouri award in a ceremony last Thursday at the Capitol Rotunda in Jefferson City. It was presented by Missouri Preservation, a group based in Boonville, and it was one of about a dozen awards. The group cited work to restore the interior of the building, including “the removal of all non-original construction” and the “restoration of the original high plaster ceilings.”
2 The county saved and then renovated the courthouse over several years, reopening it in 2013 with county offices, a city of Independence tourism center, new space for the Jackson County Historical Society and a gallery of paintings by George Caleb Bingham. The aim was to put the building back to the look it had when Presiding Judge Harry S. Truman oversaw a renovation in 1933, and the county preserved such spaces as the Brady Courtroom upstairs and the Truman Courtroom, popular with visitors.
3 Two statues stand on the courthouse grounds. On the west side is Andrew Jackson, the nation’s seventh president and the county’s namesake. On the east is Truman, the nation’s 33rd president and the county’s most famous resident.
4 Preserve Missouri noted some of the outdoor work, including the restoration of the bell tower, also in 2013. The county keeps that well lit at night, and the bell in the cupola – silent for many years – once again rings at the top of each hour. It can heard across the Square and beyond.
– Jeff Fox