Seeing one of the area’s most historically significant sites – the Truman Home in Independence – just got easier. It’s free.
“The way we’ve been putting it is we’re going back to the late 1980s,” said Doug Richardson, chief of interpretation and visitor services at the Harry S Truman National Historic Site, which includes the home on Delaware Street and related buildings as well as the Truman Farm Home in Grandview.
The home is where Bess Truman grew up and where she and Harry lived for much of their married lives. It’s where they came home to when he left the presidency in 1953. After her death in 1982, the family gave the home to the government, and since then more than 2.1 million people have toured it, including nearly 33,000 last year.
The National Park Service was pressing for an increase in ticket prices from $7 to $10, and officials here thought that would be quite a barrier for many visitors. So they asked the Park Service to move the Truman Home into the same category as about three-fourths of the nation’s 400-plus parks and historic sites – free. That’s the same as it was in the first few years the home was open to the public.
“It wasn’t cost-effective” to keep collecting the fee, Richardson said.
In the past, Truman Home fees went back into maintenance and improvement of the site, but Congress changed those rules. Now fees go into a national pot of money, allocated by need, and Richardson said that approach works well too.
Free admission also means more visitors, a chance to tell the Truman story to more people.
“It’s so wonderful, we get people from all around the country, and, being Mr. Truman, from all over the world,” Richardson said.
He said visitors tend to pick up at this time of year and said that’s happening now. He also expects a bump in visits when the Truman Library closes sometime in the coming weeks for a nearly year-long renovation and expansion.
The process of touring the home remains the same. The Park Service has to limit visits to small groups, all day starting at 9 a.m., taking guided tours. That’s to protect the home for the long term. (Tours are Tuesday through Sunday, and Mondays are added after Memorial Day.) To get a time and ticket, go to the park visitor center at 223 N. Main St. You can call 816-254-9929 ahead of time to inquire about what tours are available for the day.