SPRINGFIELD, Mo — If you’ve lived in the Springfield area for a while, you know that things are changing quickly.
“It’s really changed a lot in 50 years,” said Linda Rabe, a Springfield resident.
“None of this was here,” she said, pointing to a map south Springfield, specifically the corner of Campbell and Republic, and all that land up until Weaver Road – the land south of and behind the Library Center.
And more is coming soon to that area. RW Development who is planning this project says The Ridge at Ward Branch will include a full-service hotel, office spaces, restaurants, and entertainment.
“It’s fascinating to see how it’s developing,” Rabe said.
She says that entire 100-acre property was once owned by her great-grandfather, Augustus Ward, who made some history of his own back then.
“He was on the first Federal Grand Jury in Greene County,” Rabe said.
Ward had five sons, one of which was Rabe’s grandfather, Blond Ward.
Rabe’s family dug up some old documents when they heard the property was going to be developed. One of those pieces of paper was Ward’s will dated January 27, 1912.
“It’s his actual handwriting. His last will in testament as to how he divided that property up,” Rabe said. “It mentions his wife, my uncle Walter, who lived on that piece of property. And he and his wife had that big dairy farm.”
Rabe remembers going to that farm when she was about 6 years old.
“They had chickens and cows. We would always get the milk from them. And my dad would always go down to the creek and get the water crest and make watercress salad,” she said.
Rabe says she hopes some of that nature is saved.
“I was always hoping that they would just make a big open park area. A park to walk down through around the creek and all through there,” she said.
Trip Rhodes, co-owner of RW Development, says they intend to keep much of the original landscape, including the creek and the ridge. The plan is to add a walking and biking trail, too.
The entire project is estimated to cost about $500 million. The construction in that area is expected to begin next year.
“Times change so you just gotta change with it,” said Rabe.