SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Walking through the front door of a mid-century home is a different kind of time travel.
The house at 1325 South Jones Mill Lane sits atop the waterfall that spills from Jones Spring. A Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired beauty, it feels like an homage to multiple facets of Springfield’s history, including the days of the grist mill, a well-known physician and even the spring itself.
A history of Jones Spring
Like many places in the Ozarks, Jones Spring has some of its own folklore and maybe even tall tales.
In a newspaper from November 1931, a brief article describes a saloon inside a cave near the spring. The cave owned by Henderson Jones, a farmer and distiller who established a saloon using his own home-made whiskey.
At the time, liquor sales were legal in Greene County, so Jones opened the saloon to capitalize both on his skills as a distiller and the influx of laborers who were working to build the railroad.
While the article does not indicate when the bar was in operation or when it might have closed, it does say it was “…a long, dry cave and is still to be found.”
After the days of Henderson Jones, Jones Spring was the site of the first grist mill west of the Mississippi River. A letter from the Greene County Historical Society outlines this history and more, describing the 200-feet long, 20-feet tall limestone wall constructed by slave laborers in 1823 as an anchor for a flume that directed water from the spring into the mill.
Over the years, the spring has served as a backdrop for other events. It was the polling place for the first election ever held in the Springfield settlement in 1833. In Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book “On The Way Home,” she describes stopping at Jones Spring as she and her family traveled from South Dakota to Mansfield in 1894.
Eventually, the spring and the land surrounding it were purchased with the intent to build homes in the area. Dr. Paul J. Busiek would return from World War II in 1949 to buy five acres near the spring for his own home.
The life of Dr. Paul J. Busiek
Paul Busiek grew up in a house on Walnut Street in Springfield. He was the son of Dr. Urban Justus and Erma Marie Busiek, and he had three siblings – Angie, Kurt and Erwin.
According to Paul’s widow Mavis, he and his childhood best friend regularly rode their bikes in the Jones Spring area.
Mavis says the lime quarry that owned the land at the time held onto a piece at Paul’s request and sold it to him after he returned from his Army service in Germany.
While he was best known as the man who made Busiek State Forest possible, Paul was commissioned in the Army-Air Force and served in student medicine. During his service he was decorated with the Victory Medal, American Theater Ribbon and the Good Conduct Medal before his honorable discharge in March 1949.
He returned to Springfield and spent the next 39 years practicing as a pediatrician like his father, who was Greene County’s first pediatrician. According to his obituary, Paul helped thousands of kids and families and championed the polio vaccination program in southwest Missouri. He would later run for office and serve District 145 as a representative in the Missouri House.
Apart from his public service, Paul also loved being outside, which prompted him to purchase five pieces of land south of Springfield long before U.S. 65 was built. He spent countless hours clearing the land and spending time in the woods.
The Missouri Department of Conservation purchased the 740-acre property from Paul Busiek in 1981. According to the MDC, Paul Busiek donated about a quarter of the purchase price back to the department and sold the property at a discounted rate on the condition the area would be named for his parents. And so it came to be called the Busiek State Forest and Wildlife Area.
The house that Busiek built
With his love of nature evident in the home’s details, Paul was his own contractor when he built the house at 1325 South Jones Mill Lane in 1961. Constructed during the height of mid-century modern’s popularity, the architectural style of the home is certainly influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright with its floor-to-ceiling windows and sleek lines.
While Wright himself didn’t design the house, local architect Ed Waters was able to invoke the clean, crisp look due to his training under professors previously taught by Wright.
Some features of the house, like the large eat-in kitchen, aren’t typical of Wright’s designs, Mavis said, but it’s why she calls it “…a Wright house with a Busiek twist.”
According to Mavis, most of the materials in the house were repurposed or recycled from somewhere else. For example:
- The bricks inside and outside the home were once hotels of “ill-repute” that were located on Campbell Avenue and later demolished.
- The stairs leading up to the bedrooms and down to Paul’s study were his own creation, Mavis says, and made from cherry, oak and walnut trees harvested from the lot where the house sits.
- The stair railings came from the local YMCA after the building was remodeled.
- Some stones lining the driveway came from Greene County’s first jail while others came from the land that became Busiek State Forest.
- Beams from a riverboat and yellow pine ceilings that were brought from Arkansas can be found inside
The Busiek home today
Over the years, Mavis said she and Paul made changes to the house. Wool carpeting was replaced with nylon carpet, and carpet was later removed altogether in favor of hardwood floors.
The space downstairs was previously two rooms, with one being Paul’s study and the other being a bedroom for one of Paul’s sons. Mavis says she’s remodeled a bit by removing the wall separating the rooms, installing built-in bookshelves and new ceiling tiles in the study.
Now, the home is for sale and waiting for its next owners. It’s listed with John Hopkins of J. Hopkins and Associates, Inc.
The house has just over 4,000 square feet of living space, with four bedrooms, two full bathrooms and one half bathroom.
The living room, master bathroom and screened-in porch all overlook the water that flows from Jones Spring, including the waterfall that spills over the rocks just outside the living room.
Built-in storage is tucked throughout the house and the kitchen has features synonymous with a classic 1950s kitchen, like hidden steps the size of small cutting boards, tucked between drawers to help homeowners and cooks reach the highest cabinets.