SPRINGFIELD, Mo.–A piece of Springfield history is stumbled upon.
It happened during renovation of Ophelia’s Tapas Bar and Restaurant on East Commercial Street.
Back in June, when it was time to excavate the basement floor for more head space for the bar, construction crews made a discovery dating back to the 1800’s.
Don’t let the boarded up building fool you. There’s more to it than what meets the eye. Just ask Springfield historian John Sellars.
“Uncovered this beautiful 8 foot tall arched stone cellar, stone basement which is almost 40 feet long. What an amazing discovery. I mean you had no idea it was there,” says Sellars.
“A lot of excitement. I got text messages almost immediately,” says Tom Muetzel.
Reaction from Ophelia’s Co Owner Tom Muetzel when renovation work led to an unknown dimension of his restaurant.
“What we believe this is is a cold storage whether it was used for just simple dry goods or whatever,” says Muetzel.
What is known is that the cellar dates back to the 1860’s as part of a grocery store that suffered fire damage and was torn down.
“Apparently this was just covered up in the debris under the building and it wasn’t uncovered,” says Sellars.
Until restaurant owner Muetzel decided to excavate the basement’s floor to create more head space for a bar.
“They had been driving over the top of this repeatedly and seen the rock work, but it was only when the front of the arch kind of appeared out of the mud that they realized that there was something bigger,” says Muetzel.
A hidden treasure that can now be turned into…
“Both as private dining and as another room for the bar that’s being built. I think we’re the only building in town, the only restaurant in town that’s actually developing down rather than up,” says Muetzel.
So the next time you drive by boarded up buildings, remember first impressions shouldn’t always be lasting.
Tom says they plan on opening the renovated restaurant next spring.
The only other known historic cellars are said to be where the old Dingledine Brewery used to be which is now the Route 66 Roadside Park.