INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — After visiting the LDS Church's Independence Visitors Center and Liberty Jail, there are a few more things — both historical and quirky — to possibly see and do in this Missouri community that may be of interest to Mormon visitors.
Independence Visitors Center (937 W. Walnut St. Independence), Liberty Jail (216 North Main, Liberty) and Far West (Highway D, Far West): These are the official sites that are run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The visitors center, which was remodeled in 2003, includes a Christus statue, displays about Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon and the "Home Front" commercials and the story of the Mormons in Independence and the surrounding area.
At the Liberty Jail, visitors can see the restored jail where Joseph Smith and others spent five months awaiting trial and where he received three revelations that are in the Doctrine and Covenants. See www.lds.org/placestovisit for more information.
The Church of Christ Temple Lot (200 S. River Bvld., Independence): When Joseph Smith was killed in Carthage and Brigham Young led the majority of Mormons from Nauvoo west, followers who remained in the Midwest included two groups who would eventually return to Independence. One group, now called The Church of Christ Temple Lot, returned in 1867 and purchased the temple lot property kitty-corner from the Visitors Center, which can be toured today. In their visitor's center located on the lower level of their church, you may watch a video and view historical artifacts, including two original marker stones laid for the temple in 1831. See www.churchofchrist-tl.org for more information.
The Community of Christ (1001 W. Walnut, Independence): Members the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, began returning to Independence in the late l880s. In 1920, Independence became the church's official headquarters, where it remains today. Now known as The Community of Christ, this church built and maintains two major Independence landmarks.
The Community of Christ Auditorium, next to the Visitors Center, boasts a 6,000 seat conference center with one of the largest free-standing church organs in the United States. There is also a free Children's Peace Pavilion, on the third level, a hands on interactive experience created to foster peace through creating art, playing with puppets and crawling into a "nature" cave.
The Church's Temple, across the street from the Visitors Center, with its modernistic silver spire, echoes the shape of a nautilus seashell and houses a sanctuary in which the ceiling rises 200 feet from the floor and includes another world-class organ, Japanese meditation garden, and worshipper's path filled with artwork. For a self-guided tour, check out a free audio guide at the reception desk on the main lower level. The Temple also includes a museum and gift shop/bookstore. A "Prayer for Peace" is 1 p.m. daily in the sanctuary. Free organ concerts are also daily in the summer and every Sunday in the fall, winter and spring. See www.cofchrist.org/visit for more information.
Missouri Mormon Walking Trail: A marked "Missouri Mormon Walking Trail" includes 14 sites, from the 1827 Log Courthouse (which is open for tours) to sites of former homes (like Gov. Liburn W. Boggs), jail, schools and businesses, including the print shop, significant to the era. Free brochures with a map are available at Mormon-related sites or from the city's Tourism department. It is also available online at www.indepmo.org/comdev/HP_WalkingTours_Mormon.aspx.
The National Frontier Trails Center (318 W. Pacific, Independence): This the first museum in America established to honor and preserve the memory of westward expansion trails, celebrates not one, but five trails. The Santa Fe, the Oregon and the California trails all began in or near Independence, as soldiers, merchants and pioneers outfitted their wagons, hired blacksmiths to shoe horses and purchased weapons and ammunition for their long treks west. Because of the thriving trails industry, Independence earned the name Queen City of the Trails. The museum is also authorized to interpret the Lewis and Clark trail, and more recently, the Mormon Trail. A viewing of a movie on the Mormon Battalion in the museum's theater is available upon request. The center also includes a children's activity room where children learn how to "pack" their own covered wagon or a mule saddle. See www.ci.independence.mo.us/nftm for information on hours and admission fees.
Fort Osage (107 Osage St., Sibley): This historic fort was originally built under the supervision of William Clark in l812 following his return from the West and served as a trading post, military garrison and center for Indian relations. See www.fortosagenhs.com for information on hours and admission fees.
Missouri Town 1855 (8010 E. Park Road, Lee's Summit): Those who enjoy the hands-on Family Living Center demonstrations in Nauvoo will appreciate another nearby attraction, Missouri Town 1855, at Lake Jocomo in Blue Springs. This 30-acre village, portrays rural life from 1820-1860. Costumed interpreters, authentic crops and livestock are on site, and families can take a self-guided tour of 25 buildings, including period mercantile, blacksmith shop and surrey, a church, law office, livery stable, school and stagecoach stop. Special activities also abound here, including a day learning how to shear sheep, children's games and pastimes of the frontier, an old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration, and a Halloween evening of sipping hot cider while telling spine-tingling ghost stories of ages past. See www.jacksongov.org/content/3279/3838/3863.aspx for hours and admission fees.
1859 Jail, Marshal's Home and Museum (217 N. Main Street): Although most of the twelve cells in this limestone jail with two foot thick walls were dark, bare and cold, the cell of Frank James, the older brother of Jesse James, is still furnished today. Step next door into the Marshal's restored and furnished home and office, then view period clothing, artifacts and weapons confiscated from prisoners in the museum. See www.jchs.org/jail/museum.html for information.
The Bingham-Waggoner Estate (313 W. Pacific, Independence), sat next to the Santa Fe Trail and was built in 1850s by saddle maker and in 1864 was acquired by Civil Ward artist and activist George Caleb Bingham. Then in 1879, the home was bought by the Waggoners, a prominent milling family known for their "Queen of the Pantry" flour. Almost 95 percent of the furnishings on display today are orginial to the Waggoner family, who lived in the home until 1976. (see www.bwestate.org for information about hours, admission and upcoming events.)
Vaile-DeWitt Victorian Mansion (1500 N. Liberty, Independence): Built in 1881 by Col. And Mrs. Harvey Vaile, the home is a second empire/French revivial style with 112 windows, original gasolier chandeliers, nine marble fireplaces and hand-painted ceiling artwork. See www.vailemansion.org for information about hours, admission and upcoming events.
President Harry S. Truman Legacy: Independence is the hometown of the 33rd president of the United States. See www.visitindependence.com/TrumanSites.aspx for a list of all of the sites.
The Truman Home (219 N. Delaware): This Victorian home has recently reopened about a six-month renovation. It was childhood home of his wife Bess and her family. He lived in the "Summer White House" from their marriage in 1919 until his death in 1972. See www.nps.gov/hstr/index.htm for information.
Clinton's Drug Store (corner of Maple and Main): Here at the Square is where teenate Harry worked sweeping floors and dusting counters for $3 a week.
Harry S. Truman Library and Museum (500 U.S. West 24): One of the stops along the Truman walking trail. It is one of 12 presidential libraries in the country and includes a life-size replica of his Oval Office, 10 interactive stations for children and the final resting place of Harry and Bess in the courtyard. See www.trumanlibrary.org for information about hours, admission and events.
Truman Depot: This is the site of Truman's 1948 Whistlestop Campaign where 9,000 people met him here when he returned home. Truman's boyhood farm in Grandview is about a 20-minute drive away.
Puppetry Arts Institute (11025 E. Winner Road): Highlights include the International Room, with authentic ethnic puppets of all types from around the world, the Punch and Judy display, gathered from the United States, Canada and England and the Hazelle Room, an incredible exhibit of over 200 individually hand-crafted puppets from the personal collection of famous puppeteer and manufacturer Hazelle Rollins. See www.hazelle.org for information.
Leila's Hair Museum (1333 S. Noland Road): Founder Leila Cohoon began collecting hair wreaths, jewelry and artwork in l965 and currently has on exhibit over 400 wreaths and 2,000 pieces of assorted jewelry, all made of hair or containing hair that date from the 1680s to 1906. (See www.hairwork.com/leila for information.)
Midwest Genealogy Center (3440S. Lee's Summit Road): It's one of the largest public freestanding family history library in the U.S. See www.mcpl.lib.mo.us/genlh/mgc.htm for more information.
Janeen Aggen is the media contact with Independence, Mo., Tourism. See www.visitindependence.com for more information.