The Old Stagecoach Stop on the Square in Waynesville, Missouri is closed due to coronavirus and stay-at-home orders. You can still visit this beloved Pulaski County landmark online though!
Pulaski County Tourism Bureau caught up with the Foundation’s president, Jeannie Porter, and past-President Jan Primas, on how the organization is still meeting their mission- and how you can teach your kids Pulaski County history during the pandemic.
Pulaski County Tourism Burau: It is easy to see that the coronavirus crisis has brought travel to a standstill. How has that affected your organization?
Old Stagecoach Stop Foundation: Sadly, we were not able to open the Museum on April 4th as scheduled. Nor were we able to complete our cleaning and preparations for opening. We always look forward to the many traveling visitors and military families who are looking for things to do while here for graduations.
PCTB: The Old Stagecoach Stop Museum usually opens the first Saturday in April. What was it like for the docents when they learned they would not be able to throw open the doors and welcome visitors on schedule?
OSS: We were disappointed but knew that delaying our opening was the right thing to do. At least one county in Missouri had put a “Stay at home order” in place when we made our decision. Docents at the OSS are all volunteers, many are Seniors, we have no paid staff and our visitors come from all around the US and overseas. Considering all those factors, it seemed a sound decision. We all look forward to our tourist season which runs from April thru September. We were beginning to fill out our calendar for the 6-month period and dates were filling up. We will need to do some adjusting to the calendar when we are able to set our opening date, after allowing time to do our spring cleaning.
PCTB: Your organization has transformed the Old Stagecoach Stop building from an unloved crumbling mess to a beloved Waynesville treasure. How is the building being cared for during Missouri’s Stay-At-Home order? What are some of the associated challenges?
OSS: Stay-at-Home order or not, our old building takes lots of loving care year-round. Luckily, we have talented board members that can help with the maintenance of the building. The Old Stagecoach Stop is 165 years old. It seems there is always something to be done. The front exterior of the building was painted this fall, and the chimneys had some sealant applied. This summer/fall we plan to have the rest of the building painted. A new water heater was also installed this spring. Building maintenance is a never-ending process.
PCTB: Does the OSS maintain any other buildings on the property? How do they fit into the Old Stagecoach Stop’s story?
Yes. In 2003 the Foundation purchased the lot behind the Old Stagecoach Stop. It had been a part of W. W. McDonald’s property in the 1850’s. The yard extends back to highway 17. A.S. and Lulu McNeese built the two-room brick building during WW II to provide rental rooms. When acquired, the McNeese Building, as it is now named, was used for storage. Plans were to eventually make it part of our tour after some restoration. We soon discovered that not to be feasible. In the past year we have been working to make it the monthly meeting place for our Board of Directors meetings. Some repairs and painting the interior and a new roof have made that possible.
PCTB: When the OSS can open again will you continue to offer free admission?
OSS: Absolutely. We have never charged our Saturday visitors an admission fee, though we do accept donations and we sell souvenirs. We do however charge for tours scheduled at times other than our scheduled hours. We try our best to accommodate tour requests from groups, bus tours, and families. We charge $2 per person for those tours.
PCTB: Do you have any projects that volunteers can help you with virtually right now? Historical research, grant opportunities, transcription work, brochure design, etc.? If so, what are your needs and how can someone sign up to pitch in?
OSS: Currently, due to COVID 19, there is nothing. Once we reopen, there will be opportunities. If interested you could stop by on a Saturday or contact our President, Jeanie Porter at (573) 336-3561.
PCTB: For parents who wish to add more Pulaski County, Missouri history to homeschool lesson plans what parts of your website would you recommend they use? Any other sections of your website that would be especially interesting and helpful?
OSS: There are three sections of the website that could be used to develop lessons. They are: Route 66 Auto Tour, Old Settlers Gazette Archives, and the Podcasts. All lend themselves to the lessons of history and one could develop some interesting lessons around them. Even the Vintage Image Gallery could be used for some creative writing activities.
PCTB: How happy would it make your heart to see pictures of the OSS from past visits prior to the COVID-19 crisis? How can they get them to you?
OSS: We would be delighted to accept photos visitors have taken during a visit. Contact our webmaster by email at email@example.com. He can let you know the best way to send them.
PCTB: How can people stay in touch with the Old Stagecoach Stop during this time? How can we find out when you are ready for visitors again?