WAYNESVILLE, Mo. — Pulaski County, Missouri brings visitors from all over the world to explore the area’s history. The Old Stagecoach Stop House Museum in Waynesville is one of the attractions that bring curious people to the county.
The museum has been home to numerous people and businesses over the years, and now its displays take visitors on a journey of the building’s impact through the years.
Jeanie Porter, President of Old Stagecoach Stop, is one of nine volunteers on the board. She said the building is the oldest publicly accessible building in Pulaski County.
“We’re very proud of the history here,” Porter said. “In the 1980s this building was condemned by the city and was going to be torn down and a group of our citizens knew the value of the history here and saved the building.”
The building was built in the 1850s by a man named William Walter McDonald, who saw opportunities for business in Waynesville. He built one cabin for living quarters and one for the business to serve the stagecoach stop. Parts of the museum contain the original logs from that initial build, and the original hearth from the living quarters is intact.
In 1861, the Union Army used the building for a hospital. 32 men died on the property over 17 months. Visitors interested in Civil War history will be able to get insight into the role Waynesville played in the war. There are artifacts and reproduction artifacts on display, including a Civil War surgeon’s kit and a replica of weapons soldiers used.
McDonald resumed his stagecoach business after the war, but the new railroad took away the busy traffic.
The structure started as a one-story cabin but builders added on to make it a two-story building. The building served many purposes over the following decades, including as a hotel and apartments. It fell into disrepair in the 1960s. It was abandoned for almost 25 years until it was condemned by the city and restored in the 1980s.
The Old Stagecoach Stop House offers a hands-on tour through ten rooms that were restored to reflect various periods in the building’s history.
“What we feel like makes us a little unique, we like our visitors to have a hands-on experience,” said Mark Zurbrik, Old Stagecoach Stop board member and Tour Guide. “Some of our artifacts are original artifacts but nonetheless we allow people to touch them, pick them up, ask questions about them.”
“As we take people through the museum, they can learn about the history by going from room to room,” Porter said.
The museum has welcomed visitors from more than 50 countries and from all 50 states.
It is open for tours every Saturday, April through September.